Tag Archives: Minnesota

Friday Linkage 5/24/2019

You may not believe climate change is here and you may not believe that the strange weather we have seen this spring is the future, but I have seen what our flagrant disregard for science has wrought and it is not pretty.

Rain events that were once rare are now common.  Floods in Iowa are an annual or more regular occurrence.  My prediction is that after a wet and cold spring we will have a hot and dry summer.  Nothing like a little baking heat and drought to bookend the seasons.

On to the links…

How the Baby Boomers Wrecked the Economy for Millennials—Let’s start a new trend where we replace “Millennials are killing…” with “Baby Boomers wrecked…”  Never has a generation produced so little when given so much and left such a mess for future generations to clean up.  As a member of the tail end of Generation X—whatever the hell that means anymore—I feel like we will spend the next twenty years sweeping up the rubble of Baby Boomers’ excess.

If 2020 Democrats Are Going to Be Serious About Climate, They Need to Cut Out Congress—The U.S. Senate is a retrograde institution run by a power hungry vestige of the post-Civil War southern power structure who cares for nothing other than his own political power.  The 2020 Democratic nominees need a plan that can be acted on from Day One in office.

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Mystery Source of an Ozone-Destroying Chemical—Trump may be wrong on almost everything, but his desire to realign our relationship with China may not be that awful.  His methods are crap, but there is something fundamentally rotten about the way that China does business.  Agreements are meaningless, business is paramount, everything else be damned…kind of sounds like the modern Republican Party.

Xcel’s Plan to 2030: Close Two Coal Plants, Extend Nuclear Plant, Add More Solar—Coal is dead.  It is just going to take some time for the dinosaur to roll over and actually know its dead.

Puerto Rico Got Rid of Its Coal Ash Pits. Now the Company Responsible Is Moving Them to Florida.—At what point can we just write off the entire state of Florida?  If there is a bad idea that has failed everywhere else, it will get a new lease on life in Florida.  If there is a grifter who has been run out of every town in America, that person will eventually end up somewhere in Florida.

Critics Question Ethics Behind Impossible Burger’s Rapid Fast-Food Expansion—The purity police are out to get Impossible Foods now that they are working with fast food chains.  This is ridiculous.  Every animal based burger replaced with a plant based burger is a win.

Impossible Foods’ Rising Empire of Almost-Meat—The buzz is there.  Now it is time for Impossible Foods to see if they can execute in an efficient enough manner to actually scale their business.

It’s Not Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain—Maybe the new guideline should be “If you cannot figure out how to make the food at home you should not eat that food.”  Can’t figure out how to make a homemade PopTart?  Do not eat a PopTart.

It is Solved by Walking—Just putting one foot in front of the other is a powerful choice in a world defined by our mechanized transport.

Americans Need More Bike Transit – And these Nonprofits are Bringing It—Bicycles are a humble solution to the problem of transportation emissions.

There Is No Excuse for You to Casually Drink Bottled Water—Outside of people dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters, why are we even having this discussion about bottled water?

It’s Time to Embrace American Hemp Production—Did you have that guy in your dorm who always liked to tell you about the magic nature of hemp?  I remember that guy.  Maybe he was not so crazy after all.

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Friday Linkage 4/12/2019

Yep, pretty much sums up the world we are living in nowadays:

1433ckCOMIC-who-acknowledges-climate-change.png

On to the links…

A Virtual Solar Power Plant for L.A.? ‘It Will Happen’—The idea is to turn a conglomeration of batteries into a virtual power bank that charges in the middle of the day, when solar power is at peak generating capacity, and save the power for the late afternoon/early evening, when electricity demand spikes as people return home.

U.S. Wind Capacity Grew 8% in 2018—These are not crazy growth numbers, but 8% growth in a country led by Donald Trump has to be considered a success.  Now imagine an environment with a rational president.  Whoa!

Saudi Arabia To Build 6.2 Gigawatts Of Wind Capacity By 2028—Saudi Arabia is putting a lot of money into renewables.

DTE Energy Speeds up Closing of Coal-Fired Plants—This is why coal is dead.  Less cost, fewer emissions…the headlines sort of write themselves.

“Innovation”: the Latest GOP Smokescreen on Climate Change Policies—How do I know Republicans are blowing smoke about climate change?  Their lips are moving.  Normally it is “national security” that is used as a blanket defense/reasoning for whatever draconian policy they want to institute.

An Easy, Cost-Effective Way to Address Climate Change? Massive Reforestation.—No shit.  This should be point number one in any climate change mitigation plan.  Why?  It is so dead simple and the downside to planting a lot of trees is…what exactly?

Corn Pollution Kills Thousands of Americans a Year—So, we need to grow less corn.

As Mass Timber Takes Off, How Green Is This New Building Material?—This is where we get into trouble.  Instead of asking if mass timber is better than other methods we end up trying to evaluate its “green” credentials in a vacuum.

Amazon Accused of Abandoning 100 Percent Renewable Energy Goal—Corporations will only be held accountable as long as customers keep them so.  Otherwise, a decision will be made deep in a conference room somewhere that guts whatever environmental commitment has been made.

China wants to Ban Bitcoin Mining because it ‘Seriously Wasted Resources’—No truer paragraph has ever been written about Bitcoin:

In a typical Bitcoin mining operation, powerful banks of computers are dedicated to crunching out “blockchain” numbers that serve absolutely no purpose, but have value because people think they do.

Climate Change Could Make Duluth America’s Premier Destination—This is a little tongue in cheek, but the future is a scary place right now.

Forever Wild—If you have only skied major resorts tied to corporations like Vail Resorts it is likely that you have missed the spirit of skiing embodied by shaggier ski hills.  If only we could all capture a little of this magic.

Baby Boomers Commit the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ of Retirement Planning—Baby boomers are the worst.  Fight me.  Subsequent generations are going to be stuck cleaning up the mess of a generation that accomplished so little relative to what they were given.  Yet, we have to hear endless stories of their greatness.

Friday Linkage 2/22/2019

What is it with my kids and John Tesh?  Every night when we drive home from various activities they both beg for the radio to be turned to the station that plays Tesh’s syndicated “Music and Intelligence for Your Life.”

It is so odd to hear them discuss the relative merits of whatever study or lifestyle tidbit Tesh brings up between songs.

On to the links…

Minnesota’s Climate Begins its Descent Toward an Unrecognizable Future—The future is happening now when it comes to climate change.  The impacts may not be noticeable in the short term, but the changes are happening.

Planting 1.2 Trillion Trees Could Cancel Out a Decade of CO2 Emissions—What are we waiting for?

Amazon’s $0 Corporate Income Tax Bill Last Year, Explained—This is the symptom of a failed policy.  Amazon makes billions of dollars a year and uses a loophole to pay no tax.

The Secret Ingredient for Cutting Costs and CO2 Emissions in Infrastructure—There are huge savings in terms of energy efficiency when we look at the biggest users of energy across the United States.  Cutting the energy consumption of these “low hanging fruit” could deliver massive savings for relatively low cost on a timescale that is fairly quick.

BP Energy Outlook Predicts Renewable Energy Will Be Dominant By 2040—Remember, this is an old line fossil fuel company putting out a technical analysis that says renewables are going to win.

Trump’s Intervention Fails to Save Coal-Fired Power Plant—Remember when Republicans were all about the free market because…uh, freedom?  The market has said that coal is a dead technology and that the transition is underway, but people like Trump and McConnell have coal barons to keep happy.

EU Setting its First Emissions Standards for Big Trucks to Lower C02—Cutting the emissions of heavy duty and heavy use trucks is probably the biggest bang for the invested dollar that we can get in the near term.

World’s Biggest Battery to Boost Solar in Texas—Texas, surprisingly, is driving a lot of innovation in renewable energy.  First it was a lot of wind and now it looks like solar plus storage is going to be the next big thing.  Everything is bigger in Texas.

World’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Hornsea One Generates First Power—I am noticing a trend with these renewable energy stories.  Every other one seems to be about the “world’s largest” something.  Largest storage battery, largest offshore wind farm…you get the idea.

Vineyard Wind Proposes 1,200 Megawatt “Liberty Wind” Offshore Project For New York—This would be America’s largest offshore wind farm.  Okay, that would not take a lot.

Here Comes All Your California Offshore Wind Jobs—The craziest number in this article is 112 gigawatts.  This represents the state’s technical offshore resources, which is a figure higher than the state’s current electricity needs.

Giant Wind Power Transmission Project Could Spark New Wind Rush In Wind Belt—The more wind power that we can deploy in the Great Plains the better.  It is clean, green power that helps economically depressed communities by bringing much needed income and property tax base.

Adding Balance to the Meat Debate—There is something to be said for balance.  What we eat is as important as how it was made.  A processed meat free “chicken” nugget may not be any better than a piece of chicken from a pasture raised bird.  There is a lot of nuance.  People hate nuance.  It forces them to think.

A Comeback for African National Parks—It’s not all bad news.  It appears that if we resource the parks and do not encroach on the boundaries with development that large animals can succeed.

Stuff I Like: Wolf Tooth Components B-RAD 2 and Morse Cage

If there is one development in the world of cycling that has been a positive it has to be the evolution of the sport away from the duality of road cyclist versus mountain biker.  In the halcyon days of the 1990s this was the only distinction that mattered.

Fast forward to whatever we call these years and there is a proliferation of cycling “genres.”  Sure, the traditional roadie still exists but that rider shares space with the bikepacker, gravel cyclist, fat biker, fondo enthusiast, and so on.  These new or rediscovered styles of riding suit a lot more people and a lot more fun than spending your afternoons in a group ride staring at someone’s lycra clad rear end.

My preferred riding style falls into the big day ride camp.  I do not bike camp—yet—but I may spend an entire day in the saddle over mixed terrain pretty far from home.  As such, there is a decent amount of stuff I want to carry with me including enough water to complete the ride or at least make it between widely spaced trusted sources.

The problem that I have discovered is that my new bike’s frame triangle was quite small.  There were two bottle locations in the main triangle, but the one mounted on the seat tube did not allow for the insertion of a Zefal 164 water bottle.  These bottles are a favorite of long distance riders here in eastern Iowa because each one holds 33 ounces of water.  Two of these give you more than a half-gallon of water for any given ride.

Enter Wolf Tooth Components.  Probably best known as one of the original aftermarket specialists making narrow wide chainrings.  The geniuses at this Minnesota company have branched out into all sorts of solutions for those of us looking to tweak our rides into some semblance of personal perfection.  In my case it was the combination of a B-RAD 2 and Morse Cage.

The B-RAD “system” is a series of mounts and accessories to maximize your on bike storage.  What the B-RAD 2 allowed me to do was shift the mounting holes for my seat tube bottle cage down a few inches.

I also paired this with the most excellent Morse Cage.  Made by Durango, Colorado based King Cage for Wolf Tooth the Morse Cage features holes and slots for the perfect positioning of a water bottle cage.  Witness:

MorseCageShift_400_large.gif

Made of bent hollow stainless steel tubing—titanium is available for you crazies out there—these cages are a thing of beauty.  Okay, I geek out a little about small things like cages.  Just wait until you hear me opine about the cable housing that I have eyed up.  Bike bling is a real thing.

The end result is a main triangle that looks like this:

IMG_20181112_165412083_PORTRAIT.jpg

This setup give me two bottles within arm’s reach when in the saddle.  It also puts the spigots up higher than if I used the underside of the downtube.  I cannot imagine how much limestone dust would be caked on the spigot after ten miles off of pavement.  It all seems like small ball stuff until you realize that after spending hours in the saddle on a ride the last thing you want to be dealing with is a water bottle that is strangely out of your reach.

Note: I bought both the B-RAD 2 and Morse Cages with my own funds.  I receive no compensation from Wolf Tooth Components for my endorsement of their products.  I just happen to really like the stuff these guys make.

Friday Linkage 8/31/2018

It is almost September and I do not know if the United States can get any crazier.  The President of the United States surrounded himself with convicted and admitted felons.  Imagine Barack Obama having a member of his inner circle convicted of or admitting to a felony.  Sean Hannity’s false outrage would still be spewing from the Fox News caldera atop Mount Murdoch.  Right now?  Not so much.

Now the Trump administration is systematically denying American citizens the right to return to the country of their birth.  Why?  Mostly because they are brown people who have no powerful allies in Washington D.C. and with the midterm elections a little more than two months away someone needs to gin up the racists that comprise the Republican party’s base these days.

These are scary times, but do not despair.  We possess the tools to end this budding dystopia.

On to the links…

Here’s House Republicans’ List of All the Trump Scandals They’re Covering Up—If your member of Congress is not demanding hearings and investigations then they are part of the cover up of the Trump administration’s misdeeds.  If the House of Representatives can spend days on emails they can spare a little time to spend on actual corruption.

Environmental Law Experts find Major Legal Flaws in Trump’s Replacement for Clean Power Plan—Surprise, surprise.  When you major objections to something are “coal is good” and “it was created by the black guy” there is bound to be a lack of sound legal reasoning behind the replacement.

Coal Country: EPA Plan Is Short Term Boost, No Solution For Industry Decline—Remember, when Donald Trump leaves office in 2019 or sooner if the federales finally figure out a way to indict a sitting president all of the coal barons who buddied up with the corrupt administration will have no friends.

Research Shows That A Low-Carbon Future Will Be A Renewable Future—That is unless nuclear fusion comes to fruition.  It’s a decade away and it always will be…

Affordable Clean Energy Rules Or Not, Coal Stabbed In The Back Again—At the same time that the Trump administration is trying to prop up coal it is also promoting natural gas, which is one of the primary drivers behind the collapse of the coal industry in America.

Western States Could Save $600 Million By Using More Renewable Energy—Colorado is leading on this front, but the other three states on this list are really lagging behind their true potential.  Ironically, Wyoming seems to be making some progress because it sees the development of wind power as something it can export to the Front Range in Colorado.  It’s not coal, but it’s an extractive mindset.

US Army Installs Largest Battery Storage System—The military has great need to be able to operate independent from the grid in times of natural disaster or conflict.  Combined with renewable energy generated on site a military base could become a self-sufficient island in terms of electricity.

Minnesota Could Reap $30 Billion Driving on Electricity—The dollar savings are one thing, but for a state like Minnesota that produces no oil for gasoline or diesel but does produce a lot of electricity from wind turbines the dollars that are spent can be kept in the state.

Planting a Mix of Tree Species ‘Could Double’ Forest Carbon Storage—One area where we do not focus enough energy and resources on is reforestation.  Degraded and denuded lands need help to regain vegetation coverage, especially in a climate change paradigm.  Effectively locking up more carbon is icing on the cake.

Photos: Scenes from the Yellowstone Fires — Then and Now—As the west burns and the fires become more common, it is important to remember that fire is part of this landscape and that the land can be restored.  Perhaps with a little help from humans we can accelerate the progress just like we accelerated the destruction.

Here’s How Climate Change is Affecting Your Cup of Coffee—It might be time for pumpkin spice lattes, but climate change is a real threat to actual coffee.

Republicans Tout Hemp’s Potential—Just like marijuana legalization made strange bedfellows of libertarians and hippies, hemp is finding advocates in staunch right wingers looking to toss a life line to struggling agricultural communities.

How to Identify Truly Green Products—Most of the stuff out there is just dreck.

No Helmets, No Problem: How the Dutch Created a Casual Biking Culture—I see lots of people in lycra riding bikes where I live, but a casual bike culture has been slow to develop.  On the weekends people will cycle between bars in downtown Cedar Rapids, but it is not an everyday part of a person’s life.  We need to develop a casual bike culture.

‘Too Little Too Late’: Bankruptcy Booms Among Older Americans—I may rag on baby boomers a lot, but I believe it is because that particular generation is due some serious scorn after decades of general misbehavior.  I wonder what the correlation is between the rise in older Americans declaring bankruptcy and the general ageing of the baby boomers into that cohort.

5/11/2018 Friday Linkage

The world is full of bad news.  However, a beacon of hope was shining this week when it was announced the Wyld Stallyns would be returning for a third installment of most excellent adventures.

San Dimas high school football rules!

On to the links…

What Genuine, No-Bullshit Ambition on Climate Change would Look Like—Here is the deal: We have the tools necessary to make a serious effort to combat the causes of climate change.  We understand the risks of climate change and we can estimate the costs.  We have no excuses.

Winter Athletes Aren’t Going to Let Snow Vanish Without a Fight—I am a member of Protect Our Winters, but if you are a skier or a snowboarder or anyone who just likes winter you should be a supporter.

695,000 Winter Sports Jobs at Risk Due to Climate Change—Those million dollar houses are not going to be worth very much when the ski slopes are abandoned for lack of snow:

BLOGS18APR-3-NEW

EPA Clamping Down on Public Records Requests Related to Scott Pruitt—Take a moment to remember that Donald Trump was the political outsider who was going to “drain the swamp.” Too bad he just found the worst creatures to repopulate his swamp.

Passengers ‘Lashing Out’ At Scott Pruitt Justify First-Class Travel, New EPA Memo Says—People were going to be mean to Scott Pruitt so he had to fly first class.  That is the logic of these people.  It is also just corruption and thievery.

EPA “Head” Scott Pruitt Discounts The Value Of Human Life—This is dynamic scoring for the pollution set.  Your health and well-being does not matter one bit compared to the profits to be gained by soiling the air, ground, and water.  This is the world of Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt.

Rick Perry Suggests Using ‘National Security’ to Override Opposition to Pipelines—If “national security” were really the goal, would it not be a better solution to produce power as locally as possible so it was not reliant on an exposed infrastructure?

Sun And Solar Power Cut Electricity Demand From New England Grid To Lowest Ever—Demand for baseload power dropped to a level lower than when the sun is not shining.  Solar works.

For First Time Ever, Solar Dominates UK Power Supply—This is the United Kingdom, famous for its notoriously gray weather, not Spain, famous for its sun.

US Wind Development Surges As Pipeline Exceeds 30 Gigawatts—The pipeline is critical because these are the projects that will keep the industry humming along until we can vote out the fossil fuel soaked members of Congress and the sitting President.

U.S. Added 2,000 Wind Turbines in 2017—AI Would Add 2,200 More Today—It’s not about adding more wind turbines, but wringing more power out of the wind turbines that we have already installed.  Combined with replacing the oldest and least efficient wind turbines there is a huge opportunity to expand power production.

The Puerto Rican Families Who’ve Gone Off the Grid—Puerto Rico is the unintentional laboratory for renewable energy and resilient microgrids.  What this community has learned the hard way will be good lessons in our rapidly changing climate.

The Miracle of Finland: What a Tiny Northern Minnesota Town can Teach America—In a less industrialized and less carbon intensive world I think that things will begin to look a lot more like Finland, Minnesota.

Cheap Tires Are Costing You Money and Probably Also Killing the Planet—I have a car enthusiast friend who always says, “People will spend five bucks a day on a cup of coffee, but want to save a few dollars on tires which are the only thing between you and the road.”  I have the same feeling about bicycle tires as well.

Friday Linkage 10/6/2017

This country is messed up in so many ways.  What has happened in the past weeks in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas are horrific reminders of the role our politicians play in responding to disasters and shaping our future.  However, we are saddled with Trump and his merry band of Republican sycophants who care for nothing more than self-adulation, guns, and tax cuts.  In reality, Trump cares only about self-adulation and Republicans really only care about tax cuts but both are willing to use the issue of gun rights to get their desired outcomes.

I do hold out hope that there is a better and more constructive future in the works as the coalition that has propped up the right wing for the past twenty years fractures under its own internal pressures and external demographic realities.

On to the links…

The McKibben Effect: A Case Study in How Radical Environmentalism Can Work—It’s not radical if the end goal is the survival of humanity as a species.  It’s only radical because the forces opposed have deduced that the easiest way to create opposition is to label something as radical in an effort to saddle it with semantic baggage.

Skiing IS Politics—The personal is political and it always has been.

New Era of Solar Power is Now Upon Us—According to the International Energy Agency, two-thirds of the power installed in 2016 was solar.  The same agency predicts that solar growth will be the highest of any energy source through at least 2022.

US Renewables Grew 10% In 1st Half Of 2017—That is a damn good number for the first half of the year given that the number usually spikes in the second half due to large projects coming on line before the year’s end.

Growth of Green Energy Sector Surges in Minnesota—Clean and green energy is producing a lot of jobs in a lot of places.  No one really thinks about Minnesota being a hot spot for solar, but solar is big business now.

What’s Up in Coal Country: Alternative-Energy Jobs—This is what the future looks like.  It is not Trump’s attempt to use clowns like Rick Perry to prop up the coal industry for the benefit of a few crony capitalists.  It is about providing jobs for people in an industry that can help make the world a better place.

Courts are Waking up to the Cost of Climate Change—The guy at the top and his minions—here’s looking at you Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke—may be tools of the fossil fuel industry, but it looks like the rest of the world is realizing the true costs of these fuels need to take into account externalities.

Here are the Actual Tax Rates the Biggest Companies in America Pay—As the debate over tax reform…errr tax cuts heats up in Washington D.C. take note of what is really happening.  American companies do not pay higher taxes than their counterparts in Europe.  However, you will hear this time and again in the coming months.  It is a right wing myth.

Americans Have Soured on Junk Food. Don’t Worry, Food Companies Have a Plan.—Americans no longer mindlessly consume ever more Big Macs, Whoppers, and whatever the hell Taco Bell is making today.  Oh, we still consume the veritable shit ton of junk food but the growth has stalled.  On to the developing world the titans of garbage in a paper sack say.

Bicycle Highway in the Netherlands Built Using Recycled Toilet Paper—Leave it to the freaking Dutch to build a bike path out of recycled toilet paper.

This Entire Barley Field was Planted and Harvested without Humans—Automation in farming may happen before automation in our personal automobiles.  I do not know what the positives and negatives are of this development but robotic farming is kind of cool.

Which Is Better for the Environment: Meatless Mondays or #NoRedOctober?—Why not do both?