Tag Archives: MNN

Friday Linkage 6/20/2014

Kind of an odd week. I was busy, kids activities on three of five weekdays, but I cannot really point to anything else that sucked up my time. Yet, I am sitting here on Friday wondering where the time went. Interesting.

On to the links…

Obama To Dramatically Increase Pacific Ocean Marine Sanctuary—Hell yes. The U.S. may be maligned for many things, but our system of national parks and monuments is second to none. This one move will more than double the area protected oceans across the globe. At times liberals and progressives are frustrated with President Obama because he appears to be cool to their concerns. However, when the final accounting of history is done I believe that his presidency will be looked upon favorably by the left.

Power Plant Limits Prompt War Of Stats As States Prepare To Take On Clean Up—Like Obamacare before it, the new power plant regulations set down by the EPA at the president’s direction are going to get a lot of attention from publicity seeking Republican officials in red states. Count on it.

Obama’s New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges?—The irony to any legal challenge will be that the Supreme Court set the stage for the regulations by saying that the EPA had the authority to regulate CO2 as a pollutant. In some ways the legal challenge has already been made and it failed.

Coal’s Share of Energy Market at Highest Level since 1970—Here is why the emissions rules are important. Without any action nations will continue to burn coal willy nilly until the planet is fried.

Despite Heat, Low Electricity Prices In Texas Show How Wind Is Good For Consumers—Wind generation peaked with the heat and offset the increased demand for electricity. Huh, seems like a pretty compelling case for expanding wind power.

Texas Utility Doubles Large-Scale Solar, Says It Will Be Coal-Free By 2016—Solar has to be hitting its stride when even Texas is getting in on the game. Granted, going coal free is not the same as going carbon neutral as a lot of the coal capacity is being taken up by natural gas. Baby steps.

Germany Breaks 3 Solar Power Records in 2 Weeks—Just reading about how much solar is deployed in Germany makes me wonder what the U.S. would be like if Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California deployed solar to the same degree.

5 Unexpected Countries that are Leading the Way on Renewable Energy—Sometimes we forget that there are a lot of other countries out there making a lot of progress on renewable energy that might not get the attention of the U.S. or Germany or Japan.

Cable TV Boxes Become 2nd Biggest Energy Users in Many Homes—As if we needed another reason to cancel our television subscriptions and call it a day. Just sitting there all day long these shelf trolls are sucking down electricity at a rate that rivals any other electronic device in our home save for the refrigerator.

From Untended Farmland, Reserve Tries to Recreate Wilderness from Long Ago—With so much of our landscape affected by humans it is time to restore some of that landscape to a more natural state. I always think of the idea of the “Buffalo Commons” when I read about efforts like this in Europe.

The Whole City of Florence can Fit in One Atlanta Cloverleaf—If you want to be amazed by the amount of sprawl in America just look at this comparison. Damn.

What’s Up With That: Building Bigger Roads Actually Makes Traffic Worse—So, our solution to traffic congestion for the last sixty years or so has been to build more and wider roads, Guess what? Those roads are just going to be as clogged as the roads that preceded them. WTF.

The Green Lawn: American Staple or Water Waster?—Let me save you the trouble of the argument…it’s a waste. Lawns suck up water, chemicals, fertilizer, gas to mow, and not to mention our time to create an artificial green carpet. Ugh.

Greenpeace Loses $5.2 Million On Rogue Employee Trading—A total WTF moment. Why is Greenpeace messing around in currency trading? I am glad my dollars were not donated to these folks.

Can One Of The World’s Most Ubiquitous Products Clean Up Its Act?—Palm oil is ubiquitous. The production of palm oil is also an environmental disaster. I think the question is less how we clean up palm oil and more how do we use less palm oil.

‘Pink Slime’ Is Making A Comeback. Do You Have A Beef With That?—You just knew that the makers of pink slime…err, lean, finely textured beef were just waiting for the furor to die down and prices to go up so that they could shovel some more of this slop into our food supply.

How Food Companies Trick You Into Thinking You’re Buying Something Healthy—The moral of the story is that if it is in a package it is probably doing something misleading. If you start off with that assumption you will be a lot healthier in the long run.

These Popular Plastic Bottles May Be Messing With Your Hormones—Great, so BPA was bad but the replacement may be just as bad. I should just stick to stainless steel and glass. Safer that way.

12 Sea Turtle Facts That Prove How Cool They Are—People just love sea turtles. Nothing gets a group of snorkelers excited quite like a sea turtle swimming amongst them. You can spend an hour easily watching these graceful swimmers laze about the water.

Friday Linkage 4/11/2014

This week was such a bummer. The most recent apparent chupacabra turned out to be bogus. One day we will find this mythical beast nuzzling with a friendly sasquatch. Oh well.

On to the links…

Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit Their Highest Point In 800,000 Years—Welcome to the era where human behavior has altered the basic functioning of the planet.

Wind Power Provided 4.8% of U.S. Electricity in January—Damn, that’s a big number. Granted, I live in a state—Iowa—where wind power can be over one quarter of our power any given day and is growing with the addition of some big projects coming on line.

The Energy Haves and Have-Nots—What is the future of distributed solar? I do not know, but this seems to make the case that it will be the domain of the rich in sunny climes. Great.

Here’s Why the World Is Spending Less on Renewable Energy—The spending drop is not all bad news because the per megawatt cost is dropping so much that it was bound the exert some downward pressure on spending in the near term. Granted, it would be nice to see an increase in spending and a decrease in per megawatt cost delivering a double whammy of market penetration.

Five Pathways to Post-Capitalist ‘Renaissance’ by a Former Oil Man—I thought that there some excellent thoughts and ideas presented here about the imminent future.

Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards Under Attack Again by ALEC –ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, writes “model” legislation that Republican legislators nationwide introduce as bills with little or no modification. It’s just another right wing front for big money interests.

What Should Happen To Coal Ash Ponds?—The EPA estimates, remember that no one knows for sure, that there are over 600 coal ash ponds in the U.S. This is a silent danger lurking in a lot of communities in this country.

Thank You, Rio Tinto: British Mining Giant Divests From Pebble Mine—The Pebble Mine is a bad idea no matter how you look at it unless you are trying to make money off environmental destruction. Rio Tinto divesting from the project has to be considered a death knell for this project.

Electric Cars Growing 100% Every Year—The growth rate is great, but the key factoid to me is that you can buy 11 plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid cars for less than $30K. Why is $30K an important number? It’s less than the average price of a new car in the U.S.

The Capitalism of Catastrophe—I have my problem with the entire prepper or survivalist community. It’s no secret. It’s turned into an apocalypse industrial complex complete with tradeshows.

Another Cause of California’s Drought: Pot Farms—I would not say that the pot farms, illicit or otherwise, are a cause of the drought. However, the diversion of water for these operations is exacerbating the supply issue for sure.

Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods—Some ass clowns want burl lumber and are cutting down ancient redwoods to get it. Really? This article does blame both meth tweakers and the Chinese, so it’s got that going for it.

Climate Change: The Hottest Thing in Science Fiction—Now let’s see the young adult blockbuster about a climate change refugee who must also deal with her coming of age in a brutal and foreign land. Kind of sounds good actually.

Proper Labeling of Honey and Honey Products—Basically, if you add extra sweeteners to honey it will no longer be considered honey.

How Food Marketers Made Butter the Enemy—Butter was an easy mark. The very name is synonymous with gluttony. Too bad natural fats are real food and in moderation not bad for us. Oh, and food marketers wanted to sell us vegetable oil shot with hydrogen which is killing us. God bless America. Or is that ‘Murica.

Friday Linkage 8/23/2013

Here in eastern Iowa we have gone from a very wet spring to a very dry summer.  Where everything was waterlogged a few months ago, it is now dry like hardpan.  The upside is that I do not have to mow very often because my grass has decided to stall out.

On to the links…

Meet The 25-Year-Old Prepared To Spend 10 Years In Jail To Stop Coal—If you remember Tim DeChristopher, then you need to know about Jonathan Moylan.  He is an Australian activist who has been fighting the expansion of coal mining for the past seven years.  Now he is facing a jail term because of a fake press release he concocted that adversely impacted the value of a company’s stock.  God forbid that the paper value of a company went down.  The horror.  The humanity.  How will we survive?

When Will Solar get Cheap Enough for Everyone?—Solar is a truly transformative energy technology.  Unlike almost every other source of power, solar can be deployed on a small scale and distributed way.  You cannot do that with natural gas, coal, hydropower, or even wind.  Once the price gets to a certain tipping point, the dominance of big power may enter into a death spiral.

Why Utilities Are Afraid Of Rooftop Solar—Here’s why, rooftop solar takes control of power generation away from the utilities.  No one who has power wants to give up power.

$77 Billion from the Sun: Solar Industry Facts—Check out this short video from Bloomberg full of facts about the solar industry.  The fact that global solar capacity has increased over 600% in the last five years is kind of mind bending.

Trash Into Gas, Efficiently? An Army Test May Tell—This is one of those ideas that always seems to be on the cusp of possible.  The crazy number in the article was that if California could turn its annual trash output into fuel using this process that all of its oil consumption demand would be met.  Huh?

Pop Science Guide to Corn—Corn is hugely important in the United States.  Spend any time driving in a rural area and you are sure to roll past mile upon mile of corn intended for industrial uses.  Check out this infographic to get an idea about modern corn:


Removing Abandoned Fencing to Help Wildlife—This is one of those things that you do not even really think about impacting wildlife.  There must be tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or millions of miles of abandoned barbed wired fencing in the U.S.

Deadly Sea Lion Mystery Draws Biologists to Remote Island in Search of Clues—For a while, stories of famished sea lion pups were making the news rounds as images of rescued pups made for high click through traffic.  Now the science to find a reason why there was a crisis begins in a remote section of California’s coast.

Thriving in Cape Cod’s Waters, Gray Seals Draw Fans and Foes—Somehow, I think that decades of overfishing and ocean pollution have more to do with declining fish stocks than the reemergence of gray seals.  You can probably blame the increase in shark sightings near the coastline on gray seals, but look at yourself for the reason why it’s harder to catch a boatload of cod.

Google Street View Comes to Coral Reefs—A lot of people will never get the chance to dive or snorkel around a coral reef.  It’s a damn shame because encountering one of these amazing ecosystems is the first step in becoming a passionate defender of their existence.  Now Google is trying to ease the barriers to that experience by bringing Street View to the Great Barrier Reef.  Dig it.

Congressional Cemetery Goats: Did They Work?—It was good news when the Congressional Cemetery decided to utilize goats to control overgrown vegetation rather than herbicides and machines.  Check out how well the goats did their job.

Comparing the Quality of Crowdsourced Data Contributed by Expert and Non-Experts—I found this paper really interesting.  Non-academic citizen scientists are able to contribute in meaningful ways to our understanding of the world and it is becoming increasingly easier to do so as crowdsourced platforms proliferate.  Here is some evidence to support the continued proliferation and democratization of scientific data.

Five Story All Wood House Built with Zero Chemicals—I just love seeing building being made from wood without the use of chemicals like glues or sealants.  Wood is warm and inviting.

Friday Linkage 7/12/2013

It is almost mind blowing how time just flies during the summer.  You spend the week doing a few things in the yard, attend a few teeball games, and suddenly it’s Friday afternoon. The weather has been beautiful and I am really looking forward to a lot of unstructured time this weekend to work on a few projects that have been lingering.  I promise that there will be some non-beer related posts in the near future.  Of course, there will also be some beer related posts as well.

On to the links…

What’s in the Water: Searching Midwest Streams for Crop Runoff—This is one of those problems that people do not ever really think about, but field runoff is a huge problem here in Iowa.  This is especially true when the fields have recently been treated with waste from hog CAFOs.  Yep, there is shit in the water.

How Can You Give A Community Better Health?—I have watched several presentations by Ron Finley and I have loved every one of them.  His line about people in poor neighborhoods being killed not by drive bys, but by drive throughs is priceless wordsmithing.

Scientists Work to Perfect Broccoli—I would argue that sans-genetic engineering broccoli was already pretty much perfect.  Sure, the heads of broccoli in the grocery store are often inedible bunches of bitter tasting green stuff.  But, a fresh head of broccoli during the cool season is a perfect treat.

Monsanto Is Losing the Press—Big Ag’s problems keep piling up because the problems are legion.  If it’s not genetically modified wheat showing up in Oregon, it’s scientific studies questioning the health impacts of GMO crops or citizens demanding that products be labeled in such a way to make it apparent that the food contains GMO ingredients.  It’s got to be like holding back the sea for these guys.

Republicans are Happy to Help Big Ag, but Feed the Hungry…Not so Much—I just do not understand the conservative furor over the food stamp or SNAP program.  Why is feeding people who are the most vulnerable something to cut from the federal budget when sacred cows like defense spending survive.  Gotta’ keep those defense contractor CEOs in the steak dinner!

Your Clothes Biggest Ecological Impact is not What You Think—Big surprise…it’s the lifecycle of an item that really measures its impact on this planet.  I try to get people to think about lifecycle costs and embedded energy all the time.  It rarely works.

Solar Costs and Grid Prices on a Collision Course—Every day the cost to deploy solar gets lower.  Considering that the fuel to keep a solar PV panel running is free for eternity—assuming energy companies don’t figure out a way to restrict our access to the sun—the lifecycle costs are going to be low.  Solar power is part of the energy solution.  People just need to deal with that reality.

The Coal Industry Knows That Enviros Are Winning—The game is over for coal in general because everyone realizes that it is the fuel of the past.  The real question becomes how do we unwind modern society from the coal hydra without causing massive disruption.

Bad Infrastructure Design Leads to Bad Bike Behavior—People are surprised by this idea?  Why?  When I am on my bicycle, particularly if I am commuting somewhere, I am more worried about staying alive and unharmed as opposed to being a good citizen.  Sorry, but arriving alive is the first order of the day.

Climate Change: Summer Bummer For Your Fourth Of July?—And if you needed any reminders about climate change, here is an infographic to totally bum you out:


China’s Beaches Overwhelmed by Algae—But, if you think you’ve got it bad in the U.S. just check out what China’s beaches look like covered in a thick blanket of algae.  What does 20,000 tons of algae even look like?

Piling Up Keystone XL’s Petcoke—If you thought 20,000 tons of algae was a disturbing proposition just think about what the petcoke byproduct would be like from the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:


Friday Linkage 5/24/2013

Do you ever get so busy that by the time you get to the weekend it feels like two or three weeks have gone by because so much has been happening?  I am in that mode right now.

On to the links…

Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Germs that are Your Friends—If you have read Michael Pollan’s Cooked the content of this article will be familiar.  Needless to say, we have so little idea about the microbiology of the organisms that cohabit with us.  Our ignorance is stunning.

Bear Bile Farming Brings Charges of Cruelty—Why is it that every time someone mentions a detestable animal industry based upon some folk curative the culprit is China?  Bear bile is just the latest in a long string of odd folk medicines that have become hyper popular now that the country is industrializing.  It’s just sad.

Solar Printer can Make 33 Feet of Solar Cells per Minute—Damn, a machine like this is impressive.  Just imagine watching a machine crank out 33 feet of solar cells every minute for hours on end.  At that rate you could start putting inexpensive solar cells on everything.  Wait a second…

The True Cost of Gasoline: Memorial Day Driving by the Numbers—I take a lot of satisfaction knowing that on most of these driving-centric holidays like Memorial Day or Thanksgiving that I am usually at home enjoying peace and quiet instead of fighting it out on the highways.  Ugh!

What are the Stats on Car Recycling—Infographic time baby!  And just in time for the Memorial Day holiday driving extravaganza:


Long Beach to Get Induction Charging for Buses—I have seen articles about this technology being developed, but this is the first time I have read about it being deployed across a transit system.  We do not need to have the same solution for all our transportation needs.  This is the type of solution that is perfect for the intended use.

Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side—I am not a yogurt person, but I see people buying Greek yogurt in quantities that I cannot ever remember people buying regular yogurt before.  It’s amazing.  For a while I thought that Chobani and Fage were putting crack in those little plastic cups.  Alas, the dark side of the Greek yogurt boom is not illicit drugs but, rather, a waste byproduct.  So sad…

DIY Smartphone Charger for $5—As I read about disasters the one thing people mention is that they had a hard time connecting because their phones lost power.  The network was up and running, but their personal node was down for want of a little battery life.  I was prepped to spend some decent coin on a charger, but then I saw this DIY solution.

5 Ways Urine Could Help Save Humanity—I do not know if our pee can save our species, but we need to stop looking at things in terms of waste when there is really a resource.

Mountain of Oil Sands Waste Rises in Detroit—Basically, no one wants the stuff save for the Chinese who will burn anything for a kilowatt.  Is there a good story about the development of tar sands?

High Plains Aquifer Dwindles—Run and get your copy of Cadillac Desert of the shelf.  Why?  Because the dwindling of aquifers and dire consequences discussed in that book years ago are coming to a head.

Friday Linkage 5/17/2013


Friday Linkage became Monday Linkage because I suck at life right now.

I have been really slow on getting posts up to the site.  I could blame going to Minneapolis for a funeral, being sick for a chunk of the week, a brutal work schedule, and a pending garage sale…but that would be whining. I do not want to sound like a conservative talk show host.

On to the links…

2014 is Looking to be a 7,000 Megawatt Year for Windpower Capacity and Innovation—Bring it on!  The more windpower the better.

Utilities versus Rooftop Solar: What the Fight is Really About—What do utilities fear?  Competition and a loss of control over the means of production.  If that sounds like a return to some Marxist dogma of the 1960s it should because utilities are dinosaurs in terms of business model.

Four Charts On How America Can Do Much More To Tackle Climate Change—  Basically, we have the tools in the toolbox to do a lot more about devastating climate change yet we lack the political willpower to actually address the problem instead spending millions of dollars and countless hours on pointless repeals of Obamacare and investigations into non-existent scandals.

Young Americans Lead Trend to Less Driving—So, how do we follow up the trend of driving less with infrastructure developments that support it?  Our politicians are too stupid and hidebound to think about anything other than highways and roads.

A Powerful Use for Spoiled Food—Why is there not a digester at every major facility that handles spoiled food or other material that could be turned into energy?  This seems like one of those win-wins that we do not get to hear about very often.

Manure Foam Menace Still Haunting Livestock Operations—It sounds like something out of a midnight horror movie…exploding poop foam!  But, it’s not joke.  I love how the industry people are looking to heap antibiotics onto the problem rather than asking the question about the sanity of their broken business model.

First Major Hemp Crop in 60 Years Planted in Colorado—An overlooked effect of the referendum to legalize marijuana in the state of Colorado was that it opened the door for industrial hemp to be planted.  I do not think that hemp is the miracle plant that the hackey sack playing stoner in college tried to convince you it was, but it can be part of the portfolio of solutions.

Who Would Kill a Monk Seal?—I am a big fan of monk seals and other aquatic life, so it strikes me as strange why someone, native Hawaiian or otherwise, would kill a monk seal?   This seems like a case of mistaken guilt like the sea lions being harassed to preserve salmon runs.  The fish are not in decline because of natural predators, okay?

Study of Rare Hops Loving Butterfly gets Boost from Brewer—Beer is good for so much more than just drinking.  It helps the planet, man!

Farm Equipment that Runs on Oats—I am always reminded of post-apocalyptic fiction when I read about people using draft horses.  There is something bucolic and serene about draft animals for the person who is not working as a teamster on a daily basis.

You Absolutely Should not Get Backyard Chickens—This is the exact sentiment that has prevented me from getting backyard chickens even though it has been legal in my town for a couple of years and I have the perfect place for a chicken coop.  Sorry, I know that I would get too attached to the birds and would not be able to end their lives at an economic time.  Then again, if a hen were to provide years of eggs for little more than feed and water could I not offer that bird a comfortable retirement in return?

More Bike Lanes Boost Business—One day, maybe we will actually get to “Copenhagen-ize” our transport infrastructure and be able to bike freely across cities.  It’s a dream.

Why Federal Efforts to Ensure Clean Tap Water Fail to Reach Faucets Nationwide—The infrastructure in the U.S. is so messed up right now, I think this is just one story that could be repeated time and time again in locations nationwide.  How we can allow this situation to endure is beyond me?  Oh right, partisan politics…

Three Friends Make an Attempt to Live Below the Line—Almost since the invention of blogs, people have been documenting their attempts to live on food stamps or a $1 per day.  It’s not totally original, but these efforts do require some attention because of what it says about the inequity in our world and the razor thin margin that so many people live on.

Tasty, and Subversive, Too—World watch out.  Guerrilla gardeners are grafting bearing branches to your ornamental fruit trees.  The world quivers at the thought of some plums falling from the sky!

Life in America: 1983 versus 2013 Infographic—Some of the economic numbers blow my mind.  The median price of a home?  The estimated GDP?  Wow!  Check it out for yourself:


What Can I Put in the Compost Bin?

The weather is starting to warm up—finally!—and that means my thoughts are turning every more so toward the outdoors.  All winter long, I dutifully trudge out to the side yard and dump used coffee grounds, vegetable scraps, paper towels, etc. into the compost bin.

Come spring I will spend time turning the contents of the bin and incorporating some additional “brown” or carbon rich material—usually shredded newspaper—to maintain the proper balance between carbon rich and nitrogen rich materials.  However, spring is also the first time I really look at what is in my bin and wonder if I am putting in the right stuff.

I do not get too worked up about oils and fats being included in my bins because I never have anything like a stick of butter or a bottle of olive oil to compost.  It’s usually some oil on a towel or something like that.

Other people will tell you not to include bread or other baked goods.  Again, it’s not like I am disposing of a loaf of bread or a dozen donuts in the compost bin.  However, I know that hard crusts my daughter does not eat or the last few bites of a cookie have found their way into the steaming pile.

Heck, there are people I know who compost the entrails from slaughtering chickens on their small farmsteads with absolutely no problems.  Granted, the remains are not thrown on giant open piles but it shows how far you can take the premise of composting.  If you were so inclined you could even go the whole humanure route.  I am not there yet.

Regardless of what you compost or what rules you are following the important fact is that you are composting.  Compost happens, man.