Tag Archives: methane

Friday Linkage 5/15/2015

Where did May go? I know that I have a similar sentiment a lot of months, but May really got to the halfway mark pretty fast without me noticing. Here is to hoping that summer can be a slower and lazier season than spring has been thus far.

On to the links…

Iowa Landowner Claims he was Offered Prostitute by Oil Pipeline Rep—This story is getting a lot of play here in eastern Iowa as the debate over a proposed Bakken oil pipeline is really heating up. If anyone is surprised that an oil company would act like this does not know oil companies. Seriously, read about oil company hospitality suites in the 1980s.

Renewables = 84% of New Electricity Generation Capacity in 1st Quarter of 2015—Yes, 84% of the electrical generation capability added in the first quarter of 2015 in the United States came from renewables. For the first time utility scale solar tipped over 1% of the total U.S. generation capacity. Dig it.

Tesla’s Powerwall Home Battery is already Sold Out through 2016—If you wanted to get a Powerwall home battery you are out of luck until sometime after we choose a new president.

MIT Report: Today’s Solar Panels Fine For Tomorrow’s Needs—We have the technical tools right now to supply the world with clean and green power from the sun. Any further efficiencies will only make the economics better in the long term.

Coal Investments are Increasingly Risky, says Bank of America—The real war on coal is occurring between coal companies and the investment community, which sees the industry as an increasingly riskier place to put their money to use. This is truly the death knell because modern corporations run on debt and financing. It is the lifeblood of large scale economic activity.

Oil And Gas Wells Are Leaking Huge Amounts Of Methane, And It’s Costing Taxpayers Millions—Basically, oil and gas exploration companies are allowing a lot of methane to leak out of wells drilled on public lands. Remember that these are the same oil and gas companies that pay lower than market rates for the right to drill on public lands. What a scam.

In Wyoming, Taking A Photo Of A Polluted Stream Could Land You In Jail—Like “ag gag” laws this law is just waiting for court case to blow open the cozy relationship between lawmakers, polluters, and the chilling effect such a relationships have on free speech. Isn’t it amazing how right wingers love the second amendment, talk about freedom constantly, and are the first in line to trample any freedom that does not involve a firearm?

Is Corn Ethanol Breaking The Law?—Uh oh. Inevitably, farm state lawmakers will pass a correction to this little piece of legislation that will remove the illegality.

Buh-Bye, Corn Ethanol: Joule Makes The Same Thing From Recycled CO2—I would love to fill my truck on ethanol derived in this manner.

First Large-Scale Hemp Processing Plant begins in Colorado—One of the overlooked part of the marijuana legalization in Colorado was the concurrent legalization of industrial hemp. Hemp will not be an instant agricultural miracle, but it could become part of a broader portfolio of options for farmers.

Who Controls California’s Water?—The story is a little more complex than Chinatown makes it out to be, but the problems can be traced to policies that can be changed. Maybe.

Monsanto Bets $45 Billion on a Pesticide-Soaked Future—You can buy organic all day long, but the big companies pushing pesticides and herbicides are betting big on a future where we continue to soak our fields in their deadly chemicals. Who do you think will win?

Sri Lanka First Nation to Protect all Mangrove Forests—Mangrove forests are those great unsung ecosystems. Threatened, like swamps, because they seem like a hindrance to development but the value is not realized until the ecosystem is gone.

M&Ms Candy Maker says, “Don’t eat too many”—Sugar is the equivalent of a drug. It’s addictive and it causes health problems. Now, the pushers are telling consumers that it is a bad idea to eat too much of their own product.

The Brutal Reality of Life in China’s Most Polluted Cities—You do not need to spend $10 and see the new Mad Max movie to witness what a scarred hellscape would be like in the future because China has done all the work for you without the explosions or insane cars.

Friday Linkage 4/17/2015

Hillary is in. Marco is in. I am sure that we are going to here from Chris Christie and a host of Republican also rans…Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum really do not have a lot on the calendar about now do they?

The crazy thing is that the national media cares more about this story than any single person in Iowa save for the self-important campaign operatives who act like gatekeepers to the caucuses. Ahhh, the summer before a caucus in Iowa is a beautiful time.

On to the links…

Ocean Acidification Triggered Devastating Extinction—Here is a simple concept: If the oceans die, we probably die. Save the oceans and you have a good chance of saving the human race plus a good chunk of this planet’s biodiversity. Otherwise it is game freakin’ over.

Overfishing in U.S. Waters Hits All-Time Low—We can make policy that helps the oceans. It’s just too bad no one seems to focus on some of the limited success that we have had in modulating our piss poor behavior.

Permafrost’s Ticking “Carbon Bomb” may Never Truly Detonate—A slow leak is better than an explosion, so to speak, but this is still a major problem when considering how to combat global climate change.

Forest Service Sticks up for Coal Mining on Roadless Lands—Why? Why would an agency of the federal government actually encourage coal companies to destroy wilderness in the pursuit of a fossil fuel that is in its long cycle death throes? Oh wait, it’s the Forest Service. This should be their logo:

selling_the_forest_for_the_trees

Are You Ready for Corn-Powered Hydrogen Fuel Cells?—Hydrogen powered transportation was a bait-and-switch from the Bush administration almost as good as Iraq having WMDs. If hydrogen, which is really just an energy storage mechanism, can be produced in a way that is not energy intensive it is a good solution.

Striking Chart Shows Why Solar Power will Take Over the World—This chart reminds me of those I used to see in the late-1990s showing processor power and cost. It was a way to explain the previously unimaginable proliferation of computer controlled objects. Guess what, solar is coming like a freight train of awesome:

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U.S. Predicted To Be Net Energy Exporter In Next Decade; First Time Since 1950s—Maybe we should not drill, baby drill and keep some of that energy in the ground for the time being.

In The Midst Of Toxic Oil Spill, Vancouver Announces It Will Go 100 Percent Renewable—This is not some small city in the sun belt of the U.S., but a major Canadian metropolis in a the somewhat overcast Pacific Northwest. Granted, it’s over the next 20 years but if it happens it will be a big deal.

100% Renewable Electricity By 2050 Possible In France—If it’s possible by 2050, why not get it done sooner? What are the obstacles and how do we overcome them?

Investment In Australian Renewable Energy Industry Plummets 90%–Here is why we cannot get to 100% renewables sooner. Policy makers screw up, insert uncertainty into the planning process, and slow down progress. What a joke.

Dubai Will Invest $3 Billion To Boost Solar Power Project Capacity To 3 GW—Sometimes all it takes is some oil money to get the job done.

4 Ways to Invest in the Low-Carbon Economy—Our personal investment choices are rarely something we think about as a tool against climate change but our 401ks and IRAs may have thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be focused on positive investments for the planet.

How Refrigeration Determined What We Eat and Where We Live—Trust me, millions of people would not move to the Sun Belt if there was no ice cream or ice cold air conditioning.

How to Successfully Grow an Herb Garden—It’s that time of year when everyone has grand garden plans, including myself. Maybe a little herb garden is all we really need:

The-Herb-Growers-Cheat-Sheet-infographic1

Friday Linkage 11/21/2014

Winter blew in with some force. Keystone XL went down in the Senate. Obama pissed off Republicans by leading, taking executive action, and doing something about the mess that is U.S. immigration policy. Remember, every time you hear a Republican moan about the imperial presidency these were the same people who were okay with W using signing statements to change the intent of laws. Every time a Republican screams an angel’s head explodes.

On to the links…

Chicken Abuse Revealed by Undercover Videos at Koch Foods Sites—Well, it looks like the Kochs just don’t hate liberals but they also hate chickens.  I wonder how fast ag gag laws are going to show up in every state with a Koch funded legislator and lobbyist?

Emissions Rules Yield Little Benefit along Colorado’s Front Range—Basically, even if emissions from any one particular well are decreasing the impact of so many new wells swamps the improvement of a single site. If you drive anywhere in eastern Colorado you get a real sense of the boom in oil and gas drilling.

‘Scandalous’ Solyndra Program Actually Earned Taxpayers A $5 Billion Profit—Where is Darrell Issa’s righteous indignation now? Oh right, he’s a vaudeville performer in politician’s clothing. The program, in total, worked even if particular projects failed.

Don Blankenship Charged with Conspiracy over Mine Explosion that Killed 29—Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy or a snappier dresser:

rally12_i0909072049581.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scaleIn case you were wondering, he plead not guilty.

New ‘Solar Cloth’ Allows Solar Cells To Be Stretched Across Parking Lots, Stadiums—The U.S. is covered in an estimated 61,000 square miles of roads and parking lots. Imagine if just a fraction of that were covered in relatively easy to deploy solar cloth?

Google, IKEA, And SunEdison Bought A Lot Of Wind Power This Week—Private companies and utilities are adding a lot of wind to their portfolios. I wonder what the driver of this behavior is right now?

Wave Goodbye to the Two-Car Family—Has there been a bigger driver of bad planning behavior than the American love affair with the personal automobile? Not that I can think of, but the switch away from auto ownership will have equally huge outcomes.

The 10 Biggest Factors Changing Millennial Driving Habits—I was going to blame hipsters, but it looks like there are a lot of correlations driving behavior here.

Why Going to the Library is one of the Best Things I Do—I think I said something similar a short while ago, even using the term “original sharing economy.” It’s good to see people agree with me.

Hellmann’s Are a Bunch of Giant, Eggless “Mayo”-Slinging Hypocrites—These clowns got all huffy with a company using the term mayonnaise in reference to their spread which did not contain eggs, but the plaintiffs also did the same thing. Huh? Oh right, it’s big food trying to smash an upstart. My bad.

Appliance Science: The illuminating physics behind LED lights—LEDs are transforming lighting, but how many of us actually understand how the little buggers work?

You Must Read—The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World

Fracking is either America’s economic savior or one step further along the staircase to ecological doom. In truth, it may be both things at the same time or neither depending upon who you ask and when you ask the question.

9781451692280There is no doubt, however, that fracking—the process by which hydraulic pressure is used to create numerous small fractures dispersing from a bore hole—is controversial. What Russell Gold attempts to do in The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World is clarify some of the misconceptions about the industry in general and put a face to a dynamic that seems to dominate the headlines.

First, fracking as a concept is not new. The technology to “frack” a well has existed almost as long as oil and gas men, make no mistake that this is a male dominated industry, have been drilling holes in the ground to extract dino juice. The actual mechanisms have changed dramatically, replacing explosives with high pressure water and sand.

Second, the concerns are legitimate. To get at most shale gas the bore hole needs to pass through the strata of rock that many aquifers reside. To ensure that this underground water is not contaminated by escaping gas the well needs to be “cemented.” If you remember the Deepwater Horizon disaster and a score of other incidents where wells have failed miserably you will understand that this process if riddled with potential errors. In the race to pull gas out of the ground as fast as possible or get wells drilled before lease terms lapsed, frackers have regularly failed to follow the industry’s best practices and regulators have not held their feet to the fire in order to drive better behavior. While some people were getting rich and our homes were cheaper to heat a lot of holes got put into the ground that will impact our environment for generations to come.

Third, the change wrought by the expansion of natural gas supplies in the United States is somewhat uncharted territory. The U.S. was supposed to both consume more natural gas and produce less as the twenty-first century progressed, yet the opposite happened. Efficiency and production shifts away from natural gas flat lined domestic demand while domestic production soared. Between shale gas and unconventional oil the U.S. is producing more fossil fuels than it has in many decades, which is dramatically reshaping the economy in ways that may not be sustainable.

Lastly, the story of fracking is one about personalities. No single person dominates the story in The Boom more than Aubrey McClendon, the deposed founder of Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Chesapeake was one of the single biggest proponents of fracking and natural gas from the outset of the boom. Its fortunes were made and lost on the backs on the price of natural gas and the markets, which may or may not have been manipulated by people close to McClendon.

Toward the end of the book there is an interesting side bar about the odd marriage of McClendon and Carl Pope, who at the time of the story was the Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Perhaps in exchange for promoting natural gas as a bridge fuel to wean the world off of coal McClendon became one of the Sierra Club’s largest donors. Talk about an odd couple. When Michael Brune took over as executive director the decision was made to cut ties with McClendon at great cost to the Sierra Club’s coffers.

Gold’s book is a breezy, not overly technical, account of how an obscure process to extend the life of oil and gas wells turned out to fundamentally alter the conversation about energy in America. Given how dependent our lifestyle and economy is on hydrocarbons sucked from the ground there can be few stories more central to the history of modern America.

Friday Linkage 2/28/2014

It’s the final day of February and it is cold.  Like polar vortex cold.  I know that global warming is actually global climate change and weather extremes are only going to get worse, but I am really looking forward to some warmer weather.  I’ll probably be complaining about the heat and drought in a few months.

On to the links…

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade—It’s not all bad news all the time.  Maybe all the attention that is being given to children’s activity levels and food consumption is paying off in healthier children.

99 Percent of U.S. New Power Generation Added in January Came from Renewable Energy—The future is renewables and every month new numbers come out proving the point.  Sure, coal and other fossil fuels will play a role in our future energy plans but that role is increasingly marginalized.   Dig it.

Cape Wind Could be First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Operating by 2016—It looks like Cape Wind has secured the necessary financing and could become the first U.S. offshore wind farm in operation by 2016.  I will believe it when I see it because I do not think the legal wrangling and monkey wrenching by moneyed interests is done quite yet.

Colorado Becomes First State to Regulate Methane Emissions from Fracking—Colorado is the first, but it will not be the last.  The willy nilly expansion of fracking in the U.S. has caused a lot of people to reexamine their support of oil and gas drilling.

Oil Spill Shuts down 65 Miles of Mississippi River—I have lived all my life in states bordering the Mississippi River and for almost two decades I lived in a river town along the Mississippi River.  It’s a commercial waterway in every sense of the word, but the way that we treat the river is a tragedy.

How Ultra-Conservative Utah Became a Bastion of Environmental Activism—It’s a disservice to conservatives to lump them into a single bloc.  As if a religious or social conservative is also a fiscal conservative.  We tend to view the right as a monolithic bloc and the left as a patchwork coalition of interests.  As demographics shift and politics shatter, the right is looking more like the left every day.

Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales—Here’s something everyone can get behind.  The real story is not just about the new revenue being brought in, but the funds not being spent on enforcement of petty marijuana crimes.  If there was ever a win-win for states it is a legalization regimen like Colorado.

Giant Slaughterhouse Recalls Fancy Grass-Fed Beef After Processing “Diseased and Unsound Animals”—It’s not just the mystery meat in your Hot Pocket that got recalled, but high end grass fed beef as well.  If all slaughtering operations are centralized in massive facilities then we lose some resiliency in the system.  On a separate note, what is the nastiest Hot Pocket flavor?  Gotta’ be Spicy Beef Nacho.

Just How Much does it Cost Growers to Give us Cheap Bananas?—The high price of “cheap” food is something we should all be concerned about because it is not sustainable and it is not justifiable given the long term consequents to people or the environment.

Colorado Tumbleweed Explosion Creating Hazards and Headaches for Many—The stories about roadways being entirely covered and buildings getting lost in massive waves of tumbleweeds are amazing.  It’s like something out of stories from the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

California Endangered Species: Plastic Bags—There is the old school tumbleweeds clogging Colorado roadways and there is the modern tumbleweed—the t-shirt plastic bag.  When are we going to finally just give up on these wholesale?

Why the Plan to Dig a Canal Across Nicaragua Could Be a Very Bad Idea—The reemergence of a plan to build a canal across Nicaragua to supplant the Panama Canal is like some b-movie bad guy.  It’s a plan that will never completely die no matter how many dreams, reputations, careers, and lives are shattered by it.

Are Elevated Bicycle Highways the Future of Transportation?—I do not think that widespread adoption of elevated bicycle highways is going to be the future of transportation, but used in ways to make bicycling safer and more convenient in areas where cars rule it is a genuine solution.

Friday Linkage 2/7/2014

Damn, February.  Pretty soon I will have to break out the garden porn and figure out what I want to grow this year.  I need to come up with a way to convince my wife to allow me to build a hop trellis on our property.  Homegrown hops in a house IPA…now that is an idea that I can get behind.

On to the links…

Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers—The farm bill is a big deal.  It’s policies shape our food system in fundamental and dramatic ways.  Overall, the bill continues the status quo in many ways but at least hemp is getting a little love.

E.P.A. Staff Struggling to Create Pollution Rule—This is a big deal.  The EPA, without any obstruction from Congress, can limit the amount of carbon pollution from power plants if the agency so chooses.

‘Out-Of-Control’ Rig In The Gulf Gushing Methane Freely Into The Atmosphere—When is the world going to realize that the people we have entrusted to extract oil and gas from the Earth’s crust do not have a clue what they are doing?  In the Gulf of Mexico an offshore rig run by Rowan Companies is spewing methane into the air.  These kinds of “spills” do not get the attention of a traditional oil spill because there is not goop coating cute birds.  Remember, methane is an uber potent greenhouse gas.

Federal Leasing Program A Giveaway To Big Coal—Basically, the U.S. government allows coal companies to lease huge tracts of land for coal extraction at prices far below what the market should bear.  Just another stealth subsidy for the energy sources that are killing the planet.

Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit—Recently it was West Virginia, but it’s now North Carolina’s turn to be inundated with a byproduct of the coal mining industry.  Will these people stop before the entire world is polluted?

The Government’s Secret Research into Climate Change as a Security Risk—Republicans in Congress may deny the existence of consensus on climate change, but the U.S. security establishment thinks it is real enough to devote resources studying the potential impacts.

IEC Makes Case for Solar Power in Iowa—Iowa is not a hot bed of activity when it comes to solar energy.  In a state that gets over 25% of its electricity from wind turbines you can cut us a little slack for not being on the razor’s edge when it comes to photovoltaics.  Now the Iowa Environmental Council is making a push for just such a technology.  Sweet.

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Officially Launched—The Blackfriars railway bridge in London is now covered in solar photovoltaics.  Why aren’t we rushing to put panels on every place?  Plus, why do the British have all the cool names like Blackfriars?  It’s not fair.

Bernie Sanders: Should We Provide Welfare For Walmart?—The answer is no, but if you look at government policy the answer is much less clear because there are a lot of policies that are essentially welfare for WalMart.

About That Tainted Seafood In Texas—Is Texas just a hellish place where rules are meaningless, oilmen are immune from scrutiny, and everyone who is not a millionaire is screwed?  Pretty much.

Growing Insects: Farmers Can Help to Bring Back Pollinators—As bad as things seem in this world, there are steps that everyone can take to make improvements.  The ability of farmers to improve the situation is overlooked by a lot of people because we tend to paint the entire occupation with a broad brush.

Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet—Take a minute and enjoy the musings of our modern day food sage, Michael Pollan, as he dissects the problems associated with the faddish Paleo diet.

Sugar Linked to Heart Disease Deaths in National Study—In the United States we eat too much sugar and it is killing us.  It is not just diabetes, however, as a new national study finds it may be a culprit behind deaths resulting from heart disease.

Giant Boulders Plow Through Italian Farmhouse & Vineyard—Sometimes we forget the everyday power of nature.  These pictures are kind of amazing.

Friday Linkage 11/29/2013

I hope that everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving Day holiday and is spending today with family as opposed to braving the post-apocalyptic training ground that is Black Friday shopping.  Seriously, if there is ever a zombie outbreak I am going to ally myself with the people who swarm WalMart for $99 flat screen televisions.  Those people are straight up loco.

On to the links…

Your Shopping Guide To Stores That Won’t Ruin Their Workers’ Thanksgivings—I hope that people respected Thanksgiving and stayed home rather than look for that one great deal.  Moving forward, I hope that people punish these companies for opening on the holiday:

EDIT_war_on_thanksgiving_guide-02-638x1168

Why We Don’t Eat Beef for Thanksgiving—For those of you wondering, there is a seasonality to animals just as there is a season for fruits and vegetables.

Amid Canned Food Drives, U.S. Food Banks Take Up Farming—The lowly can of corn or green beans is a symbol of the food drive here in the Midwest.  Children dutifully pack cans onto a table in their classrooms before piling everything onto pallets for donation.  Maybe everyone should just pick up a hoe and get dirty.  Wait a second, that sounded wrong.

Rake the Leaves? Some Towns Say Mow Them—Bagging up your leaves and having someone cart them away is like giving away your soil’s fertility.  For years I have just mowed over them with a standard mulching mower to no ill effect on my yard.  Granted, I do not have towering trees dumping piles of leaves yet.

Tackling the Climate Crisis With the Reality of Renewable Energy—For every person who does not think that renewable energy can be a viable source of baseload power, I give you the state of Iowa.  Currently, we generate approximately 25% of our total power from wind.  This is expected to rise to nearly 35% in the next few years as some massive projects come on line.  If we can do it…

Wind Energy In Iowa Cuts 8.4 Million Tons Of Carbon Pollution Per Year—Oh wait, here’s some numbers on the massive size of Iowa’s wind energy.  Dig it.

A Norwegian Oil Company Will Build Largest Floating Wind Farm Off The Coast Of Scotland—I am really interested to see how this whole floating wind turbine thing plays out.  There is a big test underway off the coast of Fukushima, Japan—yes, the same place with all the nuke troubles—and Europe is really pushing the envelope as well.  As usual, the U.S. is lagging behind but maybe we will get a second mover advantage as the technology matures.

Your New House In Texas Could Come With Free Solar Panels—Now, solar PV is part of the OEM or builder market.  Has solar reached a mainstream tipping point in the U.S.?  Did I mention that these homes are being built in Rick Perry’s Texas?

World’s Largest Landfill Will Soon Be NYC’s Biggest Solar Plant—Forget building giant plants out in the desert, what about all of the brownfields and industrial rooftops in the U.S. that could accommodate solar?  In this case, it’s a freaking landfill that is being turned into a park and solar generating park.  Awesome.

Emissions of Methane in U.S. Exceed Estimates, Study Finds—All was not rosy this week as a study found we may be underestimating our level of methane emissions.  This is bad because methane is about twenty time worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Happy holidays!

Toxic Flame Retardants may be on the Way Out—Soon, thanks to the efforts of tireless reporters and California’s legislators, your couch may no longer be a soup of toxic nightmares.  Seriously, why did we let this farce about safety continue?

Maui Signs Agreement With Monsanto Regarding Pesticide Use—It’s amazing the resistance that GMOs and the attendant pesticide use is getting on the islands of Hawaii.  Most people are stunned to learn how much GMO testing is done on Hawaii to begin with—just spend some time on the southern shore of Kauai—so this is coming as a shock to those of us on the mainland not familiar with the islands.

Wisconsin has Grown into Hotbed of Organic Farming—On the way to the Wisconsin Dells to meet my brother for our annual pilgrimage to an indoor water park in the depths of winter we drive through the Driftless Region.  Until you actually drive through here you do not get a sense of the pervasiveness of organic farming and its associated social norms.

Peecycling will Fertilize Green Roofs in Amsterdam—Does Amsterdam have some of the best public urinals in the world?  I remember seeing one in the middle of an intersection of about five streets and a pair of streetcar lines.  Talk about stage fright.

Friday Linkage 11/8/2013

I cannot believe that Initiative 522 failed to gain approval in Washington.  If passed, Initiative 522 would have required foods containing GMO ingredients to be labeled as such.  It would have been the first such state to require the labeling.  Interestingly, almost all of the money funneled into the campaign on both sides of the issue came from out of state.  Hmmm…

On to the links…

The Stunning Collapse Of Infrastructure Spending In One Chart—I think the chart speaks for itself:

infrachart-11113

I think that everyone needs to send this to their members of Congress and ask, “Why?”  I am going to start sending the message every day.

The Climate Impact Of Canada’s Tar Sands Is Growing—Here is why opposing the Keystone XL pipeline is so important.  It’s not just about the singular issue of the pipeline.  Rather, it’s about opposing the dirty oil from the tar sands more generally.  That stuff is just nasty.

Methane: A Key to Dealing With Carbon Pollution?—Methane is a bad actor.  No one can deny the fact.  Regulating methane may be an indirect way to regulate carbon emissions because the two are wedded in some ways.

5 Reasons Solar Is Already Beating Fossil Fuels—I would only need one…it’s awesome.

In Heated Arizona Solar Battle, Top Regulators Tied To ALEC—Like the Koch Brothers, if you read about someone fighting solar or wind power usually ALEC shows up.  These clowns do not like anything that might be cleaner than coal or less damaging than fracking.  Clown shoes.

Johnson County’s Field of Beams—Sometimes we think of solar energy as something that happens in Arizona or Colorado, but it is happening on a pretty large scale right here in Eastern Iowa.

Poland Wedded to Coal, Spurns Europe on Clean Energy—No matter how much clean energy that western countries deploy, it must be remembered that unless countries that still deploy inordinate amounts of coal are brought along the effort is somewhat for naught.  I am not advocating for doing nothing, but we need to deploy the technology in all places to displace dirty fuels.

Oil Company Predicts Gas Powered Cars will be Nearly Gone by 2070—By 2070?  Given the trend in miles driven and the ownership demographics I would guess that that the bulk of gas powered cars might be gone before that date.  Granted, the long tail of eliminating the platform will take longer.

Texas Oyster Reef Restoration Project Begins in Gulf of Mexico—I am increasingly fascinated by oyster reefs, especially the artificial variety put in place to help restore ecosystems damaged by a variety of factors.  This seems like something that we should be deploying on a larger scale to help heal the scars of our coastal waterways.

3-D Printed Reef Brings Back Sea Life in Persian Gulf—This is a sweet application of 3-D printing to create complex objects for reef restoration.  Again, why are we not deploying this kind of technology on a massive scale?

These Fish are Eating the Plastic You Throw in the Ocean—Humans suck.  We truly suck.  Our plastic pollution epidemic is truly horrible in so many ways that it is hard to find the appropriate adjective to accurately describe our stupidity.

Obama’s 5 Biggest Sellouts to the Meat Industry—The meat industry is not less a many tentacled beast now than what it was like in the days of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.  It’s just a lot less visible to people now because the production of meat is such a rural affair.

Why Are Pig Farmers Still Using Growth Promoting Drugs?—It appears that improved hygienic practices—e.g. better farming and livestock management—have reduced or eliminated the need for prophylactic antibiotic treatment of hogs.  Yet, many farmers still dose their animals.  Why?

It Turns Out Kopi Luwak is Not Just Weird, it’s Cruel—Before anyone thinks about having a cup of Kopi luwak—yep, the cat poop coffee—consider how cruel the process actually is.  This is not some farmer collecting random beans in the morning sun.  It’s an industrial animal cruelty operation.  On top of the fact that it is just gross.

Why Does Cooking at Home Fight Hunger?—I have long thought that if everyone dedicated themselves to cooking a couple more meals per week at home—not just reheating, but actually cooking—that a lot of problems would solve themselves.  So many things that I hold dear come together in the kitchen in a visible and powerful way.

This is What the Earth will Look Like if All the Ice Melts—Get ready for some nice coastal property in Arkansas.  Ugh.

Friday Linkage 7/8/2011

It’s a short week of work following a long holiday weekend.  The July 4th holiday was nothing short of a spectacular Midwest summer experience—sunny days, temperature in the 80s, low humidity, a minor league baseball game…it rarely gets better.

Plan Issued to Save Northern Spotted Owl—No environmental issue was more at the forefront of my formative years than the controversy over the spotted owl.  I was too young to remember the snail darter, so it was the spotted owl.  To see this still playing out twenty years later is sad.

Peak Care Use Already Here?—Maybe just maybe, we are realizing that a lifestyle based on continually and needlessly hurtling ourselves all over the planet by various means is not only unsustainable, but also insane.  Granted, this is just for the developed world and does not apply to India or China.

The Bicycle Dividend—Governments at all levels in the United States spend inordinate amounts subsidizing the use of automobiles, all the while lambasting any spending on mass transit or alternative forms of transport like bicycles.  However, no one really talks about the money it costs to keep our automobile based system going or the true cost of alternatives.  This is the start of a real cost benefit analysis discussion.

Piet Oudolf: Plantsman for all seasons—For anyone who has watched the evolution of the gardens at Millennium Park in Chicago this is an interesting look at the man behind the plants.  The gardens were a surprise on my first visit because there was none of the overwrought neon annuals so common to modern public spaces.  It is a subtle beauty that will age well.

How to Continue “Ferocious Cost Reductions” for Solar Electricity—For anyone who thinks that solar photovoltaic systems are a niche play in the energy mix of the future this is required reading.  Not only are the PV panels getting cheaper, but the balance of system (BoS) costs are being driven down as well leading to dramatically cheaper systems in total.  I read articles like this and I cannot wait to put panels on my house.

First Quarter 2011 U.S. Solar by the Numbers—Required follow up reading to the article above.  Versus the same quarter in 2010: system cost down by 15%, installations up by 66%, total installed solar at 2.85GW, and more.  Solar is definitely part of the mix.

The Eco-Friendly Wallaby—Apparently, if we could somehow get cows to have stomachs that behaved like wallabies a lot less methane would be released.  Maybe we should just skip a step and start eating wallabies.  Or, more radically, just eat a lot less meat.  I know, crazy talk.