Tag Archives: Mississippi River

Friday Linkage 4/7/2017

At what point do we look into the abyss and see nothing but Donald Trump’s searing ineptitude staring back at us?  Every time the man goes to the podium with a world leader to his right he stumbles through a word salad of “very this” and “tremendous that” without ever actually saying something of substance.

Every time he steps to the podium I am reminded of Robin Williams’ line in Dead Poets Society:

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Unfortunately laziness is now the currency of the land.

On to the links…

The Question I Get Asked the Most—Take a moment and read the entirety of Bill McKibben’s piece at Resilience.org.  Think about the meaning and do something.

Can Steve King be Defeated? History Says Probably Not—People in his district love Steve King.  He is one of the most embarrassing human beings in politics and the people in his district will reelect him in a walk in 2018.   Why?  They are also the same people who are probably standing behind Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly.

Why Is Trump Ignoring These Good Heartland Jobs?—Why?  It does not fit his easy narrative and the man is lazy.  It does not matter that renewable energy employs more people than coal and that the renewable energy jobs sector is growing.  It also is a narrative that does not line the pockets of Koch Industries and other Trump lovers.

6 Charts That Show Trump Isn’t Stopping the Renewable Energy Revolution Any Time Soon—I hope the conclusion is right.  I just hope that there is enough inertia to overcome the amazing level of stupidity coming from Washington D.C. right now.

US Coal Production Hits 38 Year Low—Here is the thing.  As coal production volumes fall there is a self-perpetuating cycle of decline that follows because it is a capital intensive business.  As coal gets more expensive to mine it gets more expensive to make coal fired electricity, which leads to utilities closing down coal fired power plants.  This causes coal demand to fall further which causes the price of mining coal to increase.  So on and so forth.

While Trump Promotes Coal, Chile and Others are Turning to Cheap Sun Power—Again, it does not fit his lazy narrative.  Plus, solar jobs don’t allow you put on cool hard hats and gesticulate:

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Wastewater: The Best Hidden Energy Source You’ve Never Heard Of—I hesitate to call this renewable energy, so why don’t we go with recovered energy.  Nonetheless, in a system where we are looking for every kilowatt hour that can be generated from non-fossil fuels this is a potential source of goodness.

What Pollutes the Urban Mississippi? Lawns, Dogs and Lots of Pavement Runoff—We may not be able to make rural communities do something about the runoff from farm fields because the rightward lurch of those areas has made progress a daunting task, but there is a lot that can be done in our urban watersheds.

Pot’s Cousin Explored as Viable Crop Option for Minnesota—Illinois is talking about legalization and Minnesota is exploring hemp.  Paying taxes and giving rural communities another crop option is the death knell of federal prohibition.

Ten Cool Facts About Hemp From the NoCo Expo—Did you have an acquaintance in college who spent hours telling you all the cool facts about hemp that “the man” would not allow to become mainstream because reasons?  That person is mainstream now.

Peak Auto? These Charts Point to Industry, U.S. Economy Concerns—We may be “over auto-ed” as a country.  The implications for the economy are fairly dramatic.

The Couple who Coaxed 300 Acres of Barren Farmland Back into Lush Forest—It’s only 300 acres, but it is also only two people.  We have the tools to make the world a better place.  Let’s get cracking.

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Friday Linkage 6/12/2015

Miles consume my thoughts. I have set some ambitious personal targets for miles ridden on my bike this season and I have already started viewing each ride as a percentage of that goal. It’s kind of sick and awesome at the same time.

On to the links…

No More Beer, Chocolate or Coffee: How Climate Change Could Ruin Your Weekend—Ruin my weekend? This will ruin my everyday ritual. People need to understand the broad implications of climate change.

Renewables Reach Highest Share Of U.S. Energy Consumption Since 1930s—From 2001 through 2014 renewable energy—driven by wind, solar, and biofuels—grew by 5% per year compounded annually. Every step is a step forward to a fossil fuel free future.

As Arguing Against Climate Change Action Gets Harder, the Naysayers get Louder—Here is when you know something is in its death throes. When the most ardent supporters of a contrarian opinion are forced to get louder in order for their views to be heard then the tide has turned decisively against their beliefs. No one will lament the death of the climate changer deniers.

10 years post Katrina – Where have you gone, Mr. Go?—Hurricane Katrina was a natural and national disaster. The impacts were made worse by poor leadership and inept bureaucracy. In the aftermath some good has come out of the storm. The destruction of the Mississippi River delta is now viewed as a catastrophe that made the storm’s impact worse. Efforts are underway to correct some of the misdeeds of our past.

The U.S.’s Biggest Coal Company Can’t Pay To Clean Up Its Own Mines—Who do you think will get stuck with the bill? The American taxpayer. Free market my ass.

Coal: Black Moods—Do you want to know why coal is dead? As the article states the market cap for the four largest American coal companies was $22B in 2010. Today it stands at $1.2B. Chew on that decline for a moment. SolarCity alone has a market cap of over $5B.

Why Haven’t Cities Covered Their Buildings in Solar?—I wonder this every time I see large municipal buildings in sunny locales. I also have this same thought when flying over acres of distribution centers around airports that have roofs just primed for massive solar projects. Between parking lots, warehouses, and city buildings there is more than enough square footage to keep installers working steady for years.

Fueled by Growth in the Residential Segment, U.S. Installs 1.3 GW of PV in Q1 2015—Take a look at this graph for a moment:

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Now, remember that these are discrete quarter numbers, not cumulative, so each quarter adds to the prior quarters to create total installed capacity. Once installed these panels are generating clean power for the next twenty five years or so.

State-By-State Plan To Bring US To 100% Renewables By 2050—100% renewable energy seems unattainable because someone in one state does not understand how solutions from another state are not relevant, but that another technology fills the gap. It also does not help that states are hamstrung by rules written by power companies and powerful lobbying interests to keep old generating schemes in place. There is, however, a path forward.

Minnesota 1st To Require EV-Specific Electricity Rates Statewide—EV adoption will only occur faster if programs like this can be rolled out to more customers across the U.S. As second and third generation EVs become available in the market it will be the ancillary impacts of owning an EV—charging, maintenance, etc.—that will go a long way to determining success or failure.

The Future of Construction Techniques—How we build things, both in terms of the methods and materials used, have a major impact on the embedded energy of a building and the total energy costs over the lifetime of the building. The future of building is coming:

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The Amazing Truth about Costco’s Organic Food—Costco is the nation’s largest retailer of organic food. Not Whole Foods. Not WalMart. People may complain that it is dirty capitalism sullying the organic name, but we are talking about billions of dollars of sales going to a sector that was niche not much more than a decade ago.

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 10/5/2012

October is here!  It’s really not a lot different than the last week of September, but the turning of another calendar page makes it seem different.  Casseroles in the oven, apple pie scents wafting through the house, my daughter sneaking an extra marshmallow for her hot cocoa…

The next couple of nights are supposed to bring temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for eastern Iowa.  Yippee!  A lot of people do not appreciate the changing of the seasons—hoping for the mind numbingly consistent weather of the sunbelt.  There is something about the change of the seasons that is revitalizing to the soul.  Break out the fleece!

On to the links…

Debunking the Supposed Decline in Clean Energy—Republicans and their media minions—yes, I am looking at you Fox News—have never let the facts about clean energy get in the way of a good sound bite.  It’s all Solyndra, all the time.

Solyndra Hypocrisy Illustrated—Speaking of Solyndra, just take a look at the relative magnitude of the loss that the loan program endured:

Clean Energy Showdown in Arizona—Why Arizona has not whole heartedly embraced solar photovoltaics is beyond me.  Why it is even a discussion is beyond me.

How CAFE Killed Compact Pickups and Station Wagons—The guys over at The Truth About Cars have done an excellent job showing how the complicated mechanics behind the CAFE rules have killed entire classes of vehicles.

Mississippi River at its Healthiest in a Generation—Success stories like this need to get more publicity.  When I was a small child growing up near the Mississippi River we treated it like it was a Superfund site.  You did not swim near the river.  You did not eat fish from the river.  Heck, you felt scared to even look at the river for fear of some toxic river monster leaping out to grab you.  Not so much anymore.

How Food Justice Starts at Home—The intersection of environmental and social justice is best exemplified in any movement to improve our food—including the quality of the food and the conditions under which it is produced.

“Pink Slime” Lawsuit May be Frivolous, but it Could Chill Speech—The people behind everyone’s favorite gross meat additive are suing ABC News for airing a story about pink slime.  Never mind that the specifics had been in the press for years and it was just a moment of cultural zeitgeist that propelled the issue to the forefront.  Nope, these guys are going to court.  Good luck.

New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats, and Tells—It’s funny that this is a new trend because I knew people growing up in southeastern Minnesota who had freezers full of meat that they had personally “harvested” from the woods.  I guess if Mark Zuckerberg does it, it’s a trend.

Repair Still Rules in India, Can America Bring it Back?—Repairing things in the U.S. is a non-starter.  You can barely find parts to repair something, let alone find someone to actually do the repair if you are not so inclined.  When my stove broke a few years ago all it took to complete the repair was a new heating element, a Phillips screwdriver, and about fifteen minutes of time, most of which was spent unscrewing the plate that hid the heating element.  Cost?  $50.  Friends were shocked that I did the repair rather than looking for a new stove.  Huh?

Greenest College Campuses—Because I cannot get enough of infographics:

The Drought Worsens

A few small showers in the past week did nothing to alleviate the drought conditions and things have gone from bad to worse in most cases.  For my part of eastern Iowa the situation has remained “extreme”:

The last month has just been brutal to the middle part of the United States.  Check out the 12-week animation and watch the states like Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana just get toasted:

According to state climatologist of Iowa, the current drought surpasses that of 1988.   The economic impacts are likely to be less severe to farm economies this time around because of a higher rate of crop insurance and the recent high prices for farm commodities.  A further downside is that the hot and dry weather that has brought these conditions is expected to last through September.  It will be a miracle if a lot of perennials are strong enough to make it through the winter.

The corn crop is pretty much fried and now it looks like soybeans are next.  On August 10th the USDA will update its crop estimate and no one is thinking that the data will look good.  Considering half of the counties in the U.S. are under a disaster declaration because of the drought, how could it be?

One upshot, with little rain this summer farmers have applied a lot less fertilizer to their fields which means that there has been little runoff into rivers.  Due to the drought affecting the Mississippi River’s watershed this means that the predicted dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico will be smaller this year.   Gotta’ look on the bright side, right?

Friday Linkage 7/27/2012

Some storms moved through the area on Wednesday night/Thursday morning and the temperatures went from above 100 degrees to a manageable 85 or so by Friday.  It is amazing how people’s mood changes when the temperature drops from the triple digits.  Everyone is a little less edgy right now.

On to the links…

Veganism by the Numbers—Let’s start the ball rolling with a good ol’ infographic:

Any Shoe Can be Clipless—Retrofitz has developed a system to seemingly turn any show into a clipless compatible shoe.  All right!  Maybe now I can finally fulfill my vision of SPD Chacos.

What to Buy for $5.63 in a New York Bodega—Anyone who has ever spent any time in New York City has run across the peculiar institution of the bodega.  A cross between a meeting place, restaurant, grocery store, and whatever else the owner can cram into an impossibly small place the bodega is also a place where one can indulge in junk food fantasies.

The Hidden Cost of Cheap Lobster—Looks like climate change is affecting the lobster catch in several ways.  Maybe Mitt Romney will finally get concerned when his lobster dinner is imperiled.  Probably not.

Good Eggs is the Etsy for Local Foodies—I like the concept, but I feel this is one of those ideas that will not scale beyond its hipster roots.  I do not know, I probably said the same thing about Etsy as well.

Norway Cuts Palm Oil Use 64%–Why is cutting palm oil use so important?  Because the rain forests in southeast Asia are being clear cut for palm plantations to feed to modern world’s voracious appetite for this particular fat.

Quebec City Orders Front Yard Garden Removed—Is this not one of the best looking gardens you have seen in a long time:

Why would any city official want it torn out and replaced with a monoculture of grass?

One of Denmark’s Oldest Eco Villages—Why does Treehugger taunt me with slideshows of these communities that I would so like to live in?  It’s a cruel world.

How to Rebuild the Mississippi Delta—The destruction of the Mississippi Delta is one of the late-20th Century’s environmental catastrophes that no one ever seems to talk about.  It looks like a strategic rethinking of how the entire system operates could recover some of what has been lost.

Will Falling Renewable Energy Prices do in Fracking?—This is one of those “I hope so” type of moments.  The tipping point for renewables—where the installed cost per watt is low enough to compete with cheaper forms of subsidized fossil fuels—has been rumored to be on the horizon for years.  I think we have finally seen enough installations of all types to show that the numbers now back up this belief.

Strong Storms Threaten Ozone over the U.S.—It looks like the news just keeps getting better and better with regard to climate change’s effects.  First it’s a mega drought.  Now, the ozone layer is under threat.

Fuel Economy in U.S. Hits New High in First Half of 2012—It looks like, on average, Americans are finally purchasing more fuel efficient cars and trucks.  It’s a long way from real victory when I consider how many full size trucks I see in the parking lot at work, but it’s a start.

And by the way, Herman Cain is still an ass.