Tag Archives: microbeads

Friday Linkage 10/16/2015

Made it out of Los Angeles. Barely. No, seriously, I thought I might get stuck forever walking the mile and a half from the car rental return to my airport hotel. Two dead ends and a convoluted route finally got me to my destination. Maybe it is true that no one actually walks in Los Angeles.

On to the links…

Dire Glimpses of What Pollution Is Doing in Bangladesh—Bangladesh is not a nation that is at the fore of the consciousness of the West. The fact is that the nation will likely be devastated by climate change and that has the potential to destabilize the entire region.

California Bans Microbeads to Protect Marine Life—California has done what should be done at the national level. Microbeads should be outlawed immediately.

Wyoming Made It Illegal To Take A Photo Of A Polluted Stream. Now They’re Being Sued For It.—This case needs to be watched because it will set the boundaries for what can be done to prevent the use of citizen science and journalism to expose the threats to our natural world.

Chile to Create One of World’s Largest Marine Parks around Easter Island—Marine parks may be one of the few good tools we have to preserve pockets of ocean health as our rapacious appetite destroys the oceans.

The World is on Target to Get 26 Percent of Energy from Renewables by 2020—This is according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.

Gorgeous 11MW Bioenergy Plant in Leeds will sort 214,000 Tons of Waste Each Year—In Leeds the black bins collect general household waste and it will be converted into energy at this amazing power plant. Damn, I want one of these in my town to replace the ugly coal turning into natural gas hulk that inhabits the south side of town.

Chinese Solar to Jump Fourfold by 2020, Official Tells Xinhua—Get ready for solar to feel the “China price” phenomenon full force in the coming five years.

Solar Power Bids Fall By Over 50% In 5 Years In India—Think about a 50% reduction in price in 5 years. It is a pretty wild decline in the price of solar power.

Big Victory in Minnesota Will Retire Coal, Ramp up Wind and Solar—Xcel Energy has bent to the will of its ratepayers and will retire fossil fuels in favor of renewables. The support for renewables in Minnesota is simply amazing right now.

This Startup Wants To Plant One Billion Trees a Year Using Drones—I love this idea for drone technology. Think about reforesting huge swaths of rugged country following wildfires or beetle kills with drones instead of people. We live in the future.

Church Protests That Bike Lane Would Impede Their Free Practice of Religion—In a post-Hobby Lobby world I am anticipating that churches will object to everything on the grounds that it impedes their personal freedom to practice religion. Granted, it’s generally a load of hogwash but that is the world we live in today.

A Farmer Explains Why Fall Is the Best Time to Join a CSA—Maybe this is the fall where I make the leap and join another CSA. Maybe…

Who Is the Wet Prince of Bel Air?—What does 12 million gallons of water per year even get from a landscaping and lifestyle perspective?

Friday Linkage 9/25/2015

The rides the past couple of weeks have been perfect. Just perfect. The temps are in the 70s to low 80s, the winds have not been too bad, and the crowds are gone. Especially on Saturdays when people are busy tailgating and watching college football, I have the trails and gravel all to myself. Unheard of in July.

On to the links…

Ban on Microbeads Offers Best Chance to Protect Oceans, Aquatic Species—The U.S. needs to enact a nationwide ban on plastic microbeads. Exfoliation is not worth the health of the oceans.

How Strict California Rules on Emissions led to Lower Cancer Risk—Regulation works. Plain and simple. Without emissions reductions California would still be blanketed in a horrible stew of smog and death.

Taxpayers Lose Billions to Coal Subsidies—Stories like this cannot get enough press. As taxpayers we pay billions to coal companies in order for them foul our air, dirty the water, and generally behave badly.

Balls of DNA Could Fix Geothermal Energy’s Biggest Problem—Geothermal is a great renewable energy resource because it is dependable enough to be considered “base load” like coal, natural gas, or nuclear. Unlike hydropower, the other base load renewable, large dams are not required and drought will not impact production. It looks like one of the thorniest problems may now be solved as well.

Obama Sets Up Cost Of US Solar Energy For Another Freefall—Fundamental research is being paid for that will drive down the entire system cost for solar. Remember when solar panels were only something you saw in Mother Earth News or on the lot of some burnt out hippie? Yeah, it’s mainstream now and will be more so in a few years.

Beyond Sprawl: A New Vision of The Solar Suburbs of the Future—We have a lot of development tied up in suburbs. This infrastructure is not going to go away and be replaced by dense, urban communities. How can we reform the suburb to make sense in a new era?

Tesla Gigafactory & Battery Improvements Could Cut Battery Costs 50%–A reduction of this magnitude would make some serious waves.

UK To Remain Offshore Wind Giant With Forecasted 23.2 GW By 2025, GlobalData—I keep wondering when offshore wind is going to explode. Maybe that time is now.

China’s Wind Energy Capacity To Triple By 2020, Says GlobalData—For all of the bad things China does—pollution out of control, corruption, political repression—they sure are going after this whole renewable energy thing with gusto.

Your Body Immediately After Drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte—It’s that time of year when the pumpkin spice comes out and everyone wearing Ugg boots seems to have one in their hands. Here is what that concoction from satan’s belly does to your body.

I Ate a Bunch of Vegan Cheese, and It Was Actually Quite Tasty—As someone who has a child who is lactose intolerant and loves cheese all of these products are going to be on my next shopping list.

If You Never Knew You Needed It, Don’t Buy It—This is a rule we all should live by when shopping. How do you think Costco works? How many times have you ended up with something that was not on your list because it seemed so cool and useful?

Imagine a World without Waste: It’s Possible with a Circular Economy—Would this even fly in the west anymore? The minute someone would talk about these concepts in a political space the cries of “socialist!” and “communist!” would ring out.

Friday Linkage 5/22/2015

May has been wicked cold. This week the temperatures got down into the mid-30s, which is a record in some places, and people are running around to cover plants with blankets. I am just hoping all of my vegetable starts survived.

On to the links…

105,000 Gallons of Oil may have Spilled in Santa Barbara County—When oil companies talk about pipelines in your community, be it Bakken pipelines or Keystone XL or something else, the truth of the matter is that pipelines fail and foul the environment. Why? Because the companies are driven by profit over everything else including health and safety.

This Billionaire Tried To Get University Scientists Fired For Doing Their Job—Remember, if the truth is not on your side just use your filthy lucre to try and silence critics.

Did China’s CO2 Emissions Actually Just Fall?—I am hesitant to believe any news that comes out of China. However, this news comes from Greenpeace, surely no friend of China, and there are caveats about the short term nature of the numbers but if it held true the drop would represent the entirety of the U.K.’s CO2 emissions.

12,300 Megawatts of Coal Power will Shut Down in the US in 2015, Lots More to Come—The march of progress is on. Every coal plant that shuts down is another nail in the coffin of the dirty fuel. Soon, we will reach a point where the industry no longer has a critical mass to operate efficiently and will enter an inexorable death spiral.

Renewable Energy Land Requirements To Power US With Solar—As you listen to the people behind oil sands, mountaintop removal, and fracking talk about the land requirements for renewables show them this:


Australia Could Reach 100% Renewables By 2040—Now that we know it is possible by 2040, what would it take to make it happen by 2030?

Puffy, Feathered Sticking Point of a $612 Billion House Bill—With control of both houses of Congress, Republicans have set their eyes on rolling back years of environmental progress. If you do not think the 2016 election is important you are not paying attention.

Tiny Plastic Microbeads Are Being Banned In States Across The Country For ‘Causing Mega-Problems’—Finally, the exfoliation of our faces will take a back seat to the quality of our water.

Whole Foods Calls the Shots for Startups—This article is supposed to be about Whole Foods, but I kept thinking that they were talking about WalMart. Seriously, the tactics sound eerily similar.

The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food?—I think the answer is that food can be hard. In our own house we try and reduce food waste. It really forces you to look into the dark recesses of the refrigerator…okay, who am I kidding? These are total first world problems. Stop wasting so much god damned food.

Peat Moss, a Necessary Bane—Peat moss is a pretty amazing family of plants. Sure, the ecosystem is a little depressing to look at and the plants tend to take over the landscape when possible but look at the benefits.

The Decline of the British Front Garden—It’s a bloody shame that television “makeover” shows have led people to replace little front gardens with paved parking areas. Seriously, do we really need more parking for cars?

Friday Linkage 4/10/2015

Do you ever have those weeks at work where you look up and it’s Friday morning? The problem with those weeks is a lot of time is spent not actually doing you “day” job, but instead focused on some parallel project. Whoever told me that mergers and acquisitions was an exciting field of work during b-school was not telling the whole truth.

On to the links…

California’s Worst Drought in 1,200 Years in Pictures—I have not been to California since the current drought cycle began, so it is shocking to see these pictures. Remember, this is a mega-drought cycle that could last decades.

Barclays Ends Financing of Controversial Mountaintop Removal Mining—In 2013, Barclays was the biggest financier of mountaintop removal mining in the world. Imagine you worked in an industry where the single biggest source of private capital ceased operation. Ouch.

U.S. Power Sector In 2015: More Renewable Energy, Less Carbon Emissions—The price of a portfolio of renewables is low enough that it competes on its merits against fossil fuels. One of those merits is that once installed renewables do not require constant refueling. Sure, oil is at a low price right now but who believes that will be true in five years?

How to Maximize Renewable Energy Options for New Mexico—Renewables is all about location. In Iowa, it makes more sense to deploy wind power because of our wind energy infrastructure and constant wind speeds. In the American southwest the portfolio looks quite different. Even between Arizona and New Mexico the portfolio may look different.

Rethinking the Grid: Personal Power Stations in Your Garage—In some ways, traditional utilities are pushing this model to the forefront by adjusting their pricing schemes to harm solar power producers at a rooftop scale. What happens when more and more customers disembark from the grid?

Spain Got 47 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewables In March—Granted, Spain’s economy is still in the proverbial toilet but including nuclear the country got approximately 70% of its power from non-carbon sources. Amazing.

Indian State Plans 25 GW of Solar, Gets 40GW—Rajasthan blew past its solar target of 25GW in the next few weeks as businesses have signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) for over 40GW of solar. Imagine exceeding your targets by 60%. Wow.

Detailed Projections of Coral Bleaching—Coral bleaching, which is equivalent to a coral reef dying, will impact different reef ecosystems at different rates and spreads. It is still a damn shame that it is happening at all.

Scientists Have Found A New Way To Save The World’s Coral Reefs, And It’s Pretty Fishy—Coral reefs are an ecosystem. We have forgotten the impact that fish have on this ecosystem as fishing and aquarium collection have devastated fish populations.

Microbeads: Solving a Big Problem of Little Bits—Plastic microbeads should be outlawed. It’s pollution that we can only control at the source.

Friday Linkage 6/13/2014

I watched the primary returns on Tuesday night with a disinterested eye that was more focused on drinking a glass of my latest House Pale Ale and figuring out the family’s upcoming trip to Colorado with my wife. When the news came in that Eric Cantor had been defeated in what was being described as a stunning defeat my ears perked up.

Is this the last gasp of the Republican Party as a national party? Think about it for a moment, Eric Cantor was considered too “moderate” to win a primary in a Congressional district where he was the incumbent. Never mind he outspent his opponent by a factor of 10 or more and his opponent was a virtual unknown to boot. If you thought the days of Todd Akin, Sharon Angle, and Christine O’Donnell were over…well, it’s mid-term election season baby!

On to the links…

In Some States, Emissions Cuts Defy Skeptics—Some states have already made the cuts in carbon emissions being rolled out by the EPA at the behest of the president. To complain vociferously is to prove that your elected leaders are in the pocket of special interests and not concerned with the long term viability of the planet.

Krugman: In The Real War On Coal, The Mining Industry Won And Workers Lost—The coal industry has a mythic hold on portions of this country, but it is ironic because the industry has been notoriously bad with regard to the treatment of its employees.

EPA Carbon Standards and Iowa: Breezing Past Proposed Goals—Sometimes, Iowa does not get the credit for being bad ass when it comes to renewables. As it stands today more than one quarter—27%–of our electricity is generated via wind and with new investments coming on line that numbers could approach as much as 40%. Now, if we can just get some solar rocking then Iowa will blow past whatever carbon goals are set at a national level.

In Response to President Obama’s Greenhouse Gas Regulations, Republicans Roll Out Their Usual Lies—At what point do people just stop believing these guys? It’s kind of silly at this juncture. Maybe that is why the only place the party is viable is in gerrymandered districts with voter suppression and a high viewership of Fox News.

Finland to Cut CO2 Emissions 80% by 2050, Legally Binding—Just when I think we are doing something grand in the U.S., some country in Europe goes and steals the thunder. Finland…way to go.

The Hot New Frontier of Energy Research Is Human Behavior—The way we act everyday can have a major impact on our energy usage. Just think about driving. You could take three drivers—one who drives normally, one who drives conservatively, and one who is a hypermiler—and get radically different mileage results with the same vehicle. Expand this to the rest of our daily interactions with energy.

It Took Until June, But The Great Lakes are Finally Ice Free—The summer has been a little cool in my neck of the woods, but it is nothing compared to seeing ice on the Great Lakes over Memorial Day. The last vestige of this very cold winter is finally gone.

St. Paul Makes a Bet on Revival with Green Line Light-Rail Train—It’s amazing how the residents along the Green Line LRT route are looking at the development as a way to really revitalize what has been a lagging area of the Twin Cities metro. I watch with interest as new light rail lines are installed in places because the development has been fascinating.

Illinois May Have Just Banned Your Favorite Face Wash—Thank god some state has finally taken action of getting these silly plastic microbeads out of the water supply. Do we really need to exfoliate with something that pollutes our waterways with even more plastic? Nope.

40 Maps that Explain Food in America—I have been a little light on infographics lately because nothing has really piqued my interest. This series of maps is interesting in a different way.

Farmers Markets Reaching more Consumers Who get Nutritional Benefits—These programs seem like one of those rare win-win type moments. People who need access to more fresh food are afforded access, farmers get access to a pool of money, and the community has better health as a result. Dig it.

Driving a Car Built in the ’90s? Join the Club—Now, think of all of these cars being retired in the coming years and replaced with vehicles meeting new mileage requirements. I am guessing this will be a driver, pun intended, of fleet mileage increases for years to come.

Japan Seeks to Squelch Its Tiny Cars—I have never owned or ridden in a kei car, but these little sprites just seem so Japanese. On my one visit to Japan these cars were part of the scenery that was unique to the country. I guess globalization will claim another victim in the inexorable drive toward a homogenized landscape.

Friday Linkage 1/11/2012

I have been slow and loathe to post anything the past week.  It’s like I have nothing good to write about.  Maybe it’s that seasonal affective disorder that I have heard about.

On to the links…

Average Fuel Economy for U.S. Vehicles in 2012 was 23.8 MPG—This is one of those “boring, but important” stories.  The average fuel economy of new vehicles in the U.S. has been increasing recently and it will only continue to rise as new CAFE rules come into play.  A bit of good news, right?

FDA Offers New Rules to Stop Food Contamination—I am really torn on the new rules the FDA is proposing.  It seems like another wicket for producers to jump through that will burden small producers and allow the large players to just dominate even more.  On the other hand, there is no excuse that a country as advanced as the U.S. should have so many people get sick and/or die from contaminated food in a year.

Staten Island Ferry to Run on Liquefied Natural Gas—When you get done reading this short piece on the conversion of a Staten Island ferry to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) you will wonder to yourself why all of the ferries are not running on such fuel.  Really, why not?

Queens Wants to Turn an Abandoned Railway into a Parkway—Now, everyone wants their very own High Line.  This is a good thing because the world needs more urban parks.

Lean Manufacturing Addressing Climate Change through Reductions in Waste—I spent the first few years of my professional career in an advanced manufacturing environment where lean manufacturing was the order of the day.  It’s easy to get swayed by the discussion that we can “help” the planet by making less or no waste when making goods.  That is true on the face of things, but it avoids the larger question of whether we need the stuff in the first place.  Just saying.

Unilever Eliminates Plastic Microbeads in Facial Scrubs—Plastic microbeads, like triclosan in ant-bacterial soap, is a pox upon American medicine cabinets.  The little beads that are supposed to exfoliate just wash down the drain, do not get captured for disposal, and end up in the food system of aquatic creatures.  Great.  Just get a freakin’ loofah.

Junk Food Marketers Target Your Kids Online—Isn’t it lovely how wherever children go to play they are bombarded by messages, cleverly disguised as entertainment, from purveyors of crap food?  It’s the little cuties brought to you by Tyson Chicken Nuggets of Doom!

Minnesota’s Largest Solar Installation Starts Producing Energy—If solar power can make it in Minnesota, it can make it anywhere.  If you think there is no sun in England or Germany or the Pacific Northwest you have never spent a winter in Minnesota.  From November until April the sky is a shade of slate gray so depressing it makes ice fishing seem like an ideal past time.

Tehran Choked by Pollution—Nothing says great governance like your capital city being choked by smog to such an extent that it cripples daily life.  Before spending money on a nuclear program or military weapons maybe you ought to think about cleaning up the air.  Just a thought.