Tag Archives: New York Times

Friday Linkage 6/26/2015

So much rain and a lot of miles. Rain and miles occupy much of my thoughts lately. To get to my seasonal mileage goal on my bike I have to time a lot of rides around when it is going to rain. When an area sees storms drop multiple inches of rain in an hour or throw hailstones the size of golf balls and larger this is a harder task than it seems at first blush. First world problems, I guess.

On to the links…

The Economic Limitations of Wind and Solar Power—Most of the time we get focused on the technical limitations of renewable energy without really thinking about the broad economic limits. This piece is a well-reasoned look at those limitations.

Europe’s Emissions Decreased Another 5% in 2014—Some of this is a function of a mild winter, which reduces the demand for natural gas and heating oil, but there is something to this trend. If only the U.S. could actually follow suit and find a way to reduce its emissions.

Texas Enjoys Record-Breaking Quarter As New Solar Capacity Soars—Texas now has ~379 MW of installed solar—adding up utility, residential, and commercial—with 2015 looking like a big year in terms of cumulative additions to this total. Remember, every solar panel is less fossil fuel that needs to be burned. It’s demand destruction lone star state style.

India Expects 52% Jump In Annual Wind Energy Capacity Addition—India is looking to have 60 GW or more of wind energy installed by 2022. Now, if we could just retire some of those old coal fired power plants.

Pakistan Solar Park Plugs In 100 MW To Grid—I probably should not follow a story on India about one on Pakistan, but it looks like these two blood rivals are in the renewables news.

Renewables will Supply Majority of Australia’s Electricity by 2040—Now that there is a study showing a roadmap of getting to majority by 2040 how does Straya accelerate that into 2030 or sooner? These are the questions we need to be asking. Stretch goals.

50% Renewable Electricity Passed By California Senate—50% is great, but why stop there?

For Automakers, Fuel Economy Targets May Be Less of a Stretch—When the new mileage targets came out a few years ago all the commentators howled that it was impossible to meet these targets without every vehicle becoming some sort of punishing econobox. Guess what? Innovation happened.

One Container Ship may Cause as Much Cancer as 50M Cars—Shipping is a dirty business because these massive container ships use bunker oil. Just think of it as the sludge that is left over when everything else of value has been extracted from oil. You are left with the shit. It’s cheap, plentiful, and really dirty. If there is a low hanging fruit, in terms of emissions and pollution reduction, it has to be switching ships off bunker oil.

Recycling is Stalling in U.S., and Big Blue Bins are One Reason—Recycling bins have just become trash bins we do not feel guilty about. It’s recycled, we say, throwing packaging and what not into one big bin. Guess what? It’s likely to become trash.

Once And Future Nut: How Genetic Engineering May Bring Back Chestnuts—Chestnuts are an acquired taste. Roasted chestnuts may be sung about every holiday season, but how many people actually know what those taste like? I remember getting a bag every year after Thanksgiving when I would take a trip into Chicago with my parents. It’s but a memory now that chestnut trees have been obliterated by blight.

General Mills to Remove Artificial Colors, Flavors from Cereals—While I applaud this move, did anyone ever really buy a box of Trix and think, “These are natural, right?”

Why did this businessman buy 53,000 acres in Florida?—Usually when you read about someone buying a bunch of land in Florida it is about subdividing that land and turning it into a retirement community. Apparently someone has a different idea about how Florida should look.

Corona Is Expanding Its Breweries to Keep up with Demand—Dear god why? How much of this stank beer can bros drink? Seriously, is there a worse beer that people think is premium and drink with such vigor? Why?

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Friday Linkage 1/23/2015

I am taking a certain sick pleasure in watching the current Republican controlled Congress. The Senate recently voted, nearly unanimously, to admit that climate change was real and not a hoax. The same Senate also did not pass a resolution saying human actions were the cause of global warming. Okay, Mr. Wizard, what is the cause of climate change?

On to the links…

Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says—Basically, the oceans are dying and we are to blame. It’s not too late to save the oceans, but it will take coordinated…ah, screw it. We’re too stupid and narrow minded as a species to do anything to actually save the oceans. Let’s go shopping.

S.F. Bay Bird Rescue: Mystery Goo Bedevils Experts—There is a mystery goo, it’s a technical term folks, that is coating and killing birds in the Bay Area. If we did not need more proof about the dire health of the oceans, here it is.

India’s Tiger Population Increases by almost a Third—The animal is still critically endangered and there are many threats to a continued recovery, but the effort is being expended to make this a success story. That in and of itself should be a ray of sunshine on a Friday morning.

A Brief History of the Oil Crash—As I write this post oil is trading sub-$50 per barrel. The rolling 52 week high was just over $100. This is an interesting look at the causes of the price crash.

Graph Dispels The Myth That Cheap Gas Means Cheap Energy—Oil is just one energy source and the energy source that leads to a near daily price interaction as many of us drive by gas stations advertising the price of a gallon of gas. However, the total cost of our energy is a much more varied picture.

Single-Family Residential Solar Power Investment Beats S&P 500 in Most US Cities—I am not suggesting that you stop investing in your 401K, but maybe solar on your own roof could be seen as an investment just like that condo your Uncle Benny keeps talking about in Boca Raton.

Largest-Ever Study Quantifies Value Of Rooftop Solar—People are willing to pay more for homes with solar PV systems. Did this really need to have a study to confirm?

Florida Power & Light Solar Rebate Sells Out Completely In 3 Minutes—Florida is not the friendliest state to renewables. Heck, Florida is not the friendliest state to its own residents. However, this rebate program’s quick sellout confirms a market demand for solar power in the Sunshine State.

Why It’s Taking The U.S. So Long To Make Fusion Energy Work—Fusion is the unicorn of energy technology: cheap, plentiful, pollution free…a man can dream can’t he? Too bad it always seems like it is a decade away.

Striking Photos Show Struggle Of Farmers In California Drought—Maps showing drought conditions are nice, but sometimes photos convey a lot more meaning without being technical. Our best understanding of the misery of the Dust Bowl comes not from facts and figures but from striking monochrome photos.

Experts Zero in on Pizza as Prime Target in War on Childhood Obesity—Damn, I have never been so glad that my kids are not pizza eating wild animals like a lot of other kids. Tacos and breakfast burritos are our problem.

Craft Beer Uses 4 Times As Much Barley As Corporate Brew—It turns out that Natty Light really is just watered down real beer.

Friday Linkage 12/19/2014

It’s amazing how you can wake up one day and someone actually decides to do something resembling leadership. It was silly that for over five decades we have had such an antagonistic policy towards Cuba. If it was really about human rights and democracy…well, we would not trade or have diplomatic relations with countries like China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and so on. It was really about a small cadre of politically connected Cuban exiles pressuring Congress to keep the embargo in place because it gave them a reason to exist.

I want to wish everyone the best over the holiday season. I will be taking a break for a couple of weeks to enjoy time with my family and hit the slopes in Colorado.

On to the links…

Product of Mexico—Take the time and read the entire L.A. Times series on the conditions and economics surrounding the production of food in Mexico that is bound for the U.S. It is shocking and sad, but it is essential.

Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise—Almost since its inception the coal mining industry has been one of scofflaws. Only recently, as coal’s power to influence has waned, is there an effort to actually punish the industry for polluting our environment and killing its workers.

First Solar Jumps Into Community Solar—First Solar, a really big damn solar panel maker, is partnering to help develop community solar gardens. So, for people who cannot afford a full install or have a site that is not conducive to solar a community solar garden provides the opportunity to partake in the clean energy revolution.

17% Of Household Energy Comes From Rooftop Solar In Queensland—Think about that number for a moment. 17% of the power in one Australian state is generated locally. Distributed generation is grid demand destruction.

Australia’s Rooftop Solar PV Surpasses 4 GW—Australia is sunny , so it should not be surprising that so much solar has been installed. The really stunning number is that is estimated that 40% or so of households in Queensland (see above) and South Australia have solar panels installed.

Can Japan Exceed 10 Gigawatts of Solar Capacity Installation in 2014?—Damn, 10GW is a behind-load of solar. If Japan gets to that number approximately 2% of the nation’s power will come from solar photovoltaic. Damn.

Asia Pacific Solar PV Market Set To Reach 10 GW Q4’14—These are some nice numbers in terms of regional solar installations. Led by Japan (see above) and China there is a lot of panel installation being done.

One Texas City Plans To Get Over Half Of Its Power From Renewables By 2025—Okay, it’s Austin. So, it’s not like Houston or Dallas is making this claim. But, it is Texas and that means something when it comes to optics.

Solar Rises in Malaysia During Trade Wars Over Panels—Apparently, the winner in the trade war between the U.S. and China over solar panel dumping and tariffs is Malaysia. Interesting.

IKEA To Start Selling Solar Panels In Switzerland—I just hope that the solar panels come with better instructions and more than a cheap ass Allen wrench for install. Some meatballs would be nice as well.

Losing Weight makes your Lungs a Potent CO2 Emitter—Great, so if I lose a few pounds I am really just a gasbag contributing even more to global warming.

Are Republicans Really Behind Tesla Sales Bans? Data Offers Clues—I doubt if it is conscious conspiracy, but there does appear to be some sort of correlation. Aren’t Republicans supposed to be all free market and what not? Oh right, it’s only a free market when it’s a subsidy or protection they do not like. Just like Obama is only an imperial president when he does stuff they do not like, otherwise he is a do nothing president.

How we can Reduce our Dependency on Plastic—We use too much damn plastic and rarely think about it for a moment:

plastic-infographic

Friday Linkage 12/12/2014

Have you seen the storm bearing down on Northern California and the Pacific Northwest? Strange weather in that region, particularly California, reminds me of Marc Reisner’s thoughts on the instability of the region’s hydrology. Why would anyone choose to build so much infrastructure and plant so many people in an area with such instability? It’s beyond me.

On to the links…

Fate Of The Struggling Greater Sage Grouse Shaping Energy Development In U.S. West—The fight over the listing of the greater sage grouse is shaping up to be the spotted owl of the 21st century. If you do not think so take a look at what Congress is doing in the abomination of a spending bill winding its way through the halls of government.

After Steep Decline, Signs of Hope for World’s Sea Turtles—People just love sea turtles. It is good to see that this group of animals is showing some signs of population recovery due to the efforts of a lot of people worldwide. Keep on trucking little honus.

US Fuel Economy Average Down for the First Time in Four Years—Gas prices drop on the back off a precipitous oil price drop and people clamor for extra large SUVs and trucks. Ugh.

Our E-Waste Problem Is Ridiculous, and Gadget Makers Aren’t Helping—Increasingly, integrated electronics with small embedded components are harder and harder to recycle. What could once be pried off a board and reused or upgraded is not only recoverable through means like melting or acid leaching. It’s nasty stuff.

Narendra Modi, Favoring Growth in India, Pares Back Environmental Rules—Development seems to always win. In India it appears like the prevailing attitude is going to be “we’ll clean things up later.”

India’s Largest Power Generator Signs Deal For 375 MW Solar Power Plant—For every bad story coming out of India there are at least half a dozen highlighting the progress being made. I hope the trend of one step back for every five forward can continue for a while.

Softbank May Finance 10,000 MW Solar Power Capacity In Indian State—Development may be winning, but the development of clean power is moving forward at a pretty good pace as well.

Far More Americans Trust EPA Over Congress To Set Pollution Standards—Does anyone trust Congress to do anything?

As Coal Crashes, US Governors Push Wind Energy—As fewer and fewer people work in extractive industries like coal, whether that is due to increased mechanization or reduced demand, governors are forced to face the reality of green jobs expansion. Wind is good for the environment and good for the economy.

Grassroots Anti-Coal Movements to Watch—There is a burgeoning worldwide sentiment that coal is the fuel of the past and needs to be retired. No amount of astroturf pro-coal groups can compete with the growing calls for the end of coal.

US Sees Second-Largest Solar Installation Growth In Q3—Third quarter 2014 solar installations were up 41% over the same period of time in the prior year. If the same trend continues for the fourth quarter then it will result in a lot of solar.

Tweaking Thermostats In Boston Would Save Energy Equivalent To 17,000 Fewer Cars On The Road—There is a huge potential for energy savings in changing our behaviors and tweaking the settings of our energy using devices. Think about what we could save if everyone, nationwide, made a concerted effort to save energy. It would be amazing.

Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out—There was going to be a backlash against Vani Hari, but I wonder how much of it is centered on her premise of certain food additives being mysterious and potentially harmful. At the end of the day we need to be suspicious of anyone who stands to make money from fearmongering—as Vani Hari does with her books—but it does not mean she is wrong.

Hoping to Change the Industry, a Factory Farmer Opens His Barn Doors—This is an act of economic bravery not commonly seen among the farmers under the thumb of massive agribusiness corporations. It will be very interesting to see how the industry responds to Craig Watts’ bravery.

What is driving deforestation and what can you do about it?—What actions do you take that contribute to deforestation:

Jarrimber-Deforestation-Infographic-2

Friday Linkage 11/14/2014

You want to talk about winter? It arrived with a bang this week. Near sixty degrees and pleasant on Monday and it plunged into the teens with a nice brisk wind by Wednesday. Now it’s Friday and people are consigned to have the parkas out until spring. At least Ullr was nice and dropped fresh powder in Breckenridge.

On to the links…

SeaWorld Earnings PLUMMET As Outrage Over Orca Treatment Grows—SeaWorld is hurting. The documentary Blackfish is killing them in the public sphere and people are voting with their feet by not coming to the park in numbers. So much so that the company had to admit as much in its earnings release. Keep up the pressure folks. It’s working.

Voters In 19 States Just Committed More Than $13 Billion For Conservation—The mid-term election was a disaster from some perspectives, but ballot initiatives in 19 states set aside some serious money for land conservation.

Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path—Be wary of geo-engineering and the promise of being able to continue in a business as usual mode with regard to our changing the climate. Sounds like snake oil to me.

Fossil Fuels Reap $550 Billion in Subsidies, Hindering Renewables Investment—Do you want to know why there are not solar panels on everyone’s house in the world? Because fossil fuels suck up billions of dollars in subsidies every year. Remember, these are the most profitable companies in the history of humankind.

How the World Uses Coal – Interactive—Coal is not dead, but it is down. Maybe with a few more knockdowns we can call it a TKO.

France Breaks Ground on Europe’s Largest Solar Plant—Some people get excited to see fields of sunflowers or bluebells. I get excited to see rows and rows of solar panels. 300MW of solar PV is a lot of rows.

Wind Power Generated 126% of Scotland’s Household Energy Needs Last Month—Granted, it was windy and demand was not particularly high but over 100% of power anywhere from renewables is a good thing.

UK Approves 750-Megawatt Offshore Wind Project—This is some serious offshore wind. Just imagine if the U.S. developed some of the offshore wind capacity in the eastern part of the country?

Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts—Just check out how big the solar revolution is going to be in the near future.

40% Renewable Energy Integration No Trouble For Midwest—Iowa is probably going to be the test bed for this theory as the percentage of our power generated from wind is quickly approaching the 40% mark with proposed projects coming on-line.

New Bounty of Oysters in Maryland, but There Is a Snag—As we look to intensively use more and more spaces, particularly arable land and coastlines, there are bound to be conflicts that arise. Can’t we all just get along?

U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans.—Do we really need a GMO potato so that people can eat more fast food French fries? Just asking.

The Biggest Lies About Science in the U.S. Government’s “Wastebook”—Conservatives love to publish little missives about waste and corruption by stretching the truth and acting like clowns. Here are some classics from a recent example. Remember, these are the people who preface every statement about science with “I’m not a scientist…”

Cash for Grass Changing the Landscape in California Drought—Why anyone would have a green lawn west of say Omaha is beyond me. Heck, I live in a place where do not need to water our lawn and I want to get rid of even more grass.

Saving the Last Wild Bison—Bison are amazing animals. A truly American animal that we should celebrate much more so than the stupid cow.

Gunnison Sage Grouse gets Federal Protection to Prevent Extinction—A lot of policy watchers anticipate this issue to be as contentious as the spotted owl decision in the 20th century. Instead of logging, a declining industry at the time of the spotted owl controversy, this impacts oil and gas. Get ready.

Friday Linkage 10/10/2014

Fall is really in the air, so that means it is time to blow town and go on vacation. The family and I leave next week for a quick jaunt to the swamps of Florida for enforced fun with Mickey Mouse and his furry friends. My son has not stopped chanting “tea cups!” for the past week. Save me, please.

On to the links…

Teacher Sends Hungry First Graders Home With Backpacks Full Of Food—I both love this story and hate this story. I love that a teacher took this upon themselves to help their students, but it makes me sick that in the United States we have children that are hungry. There is no excuse why any person in this country should be hungry on a given day unless it is their choice to not eat. No excuse.

How School Lunch Became the Latest Political Battleground—School lunch is big business and even bigger politics. It’s why, as parents, we should be fighting tooth and nail to change the system.

If America Cared about the Planet as Much as the NFL, This is What it Would Look Like—When the NFL was about to go on strike a few years back the news and analysis of the labor negotiations was amazing in its depth. If people cared about anything other than sports that much the world would be a much better place.

EPA says 24.1-mpg New Car Average is Best-Ever—Our average vehicle fuel economy keeps creeping up and as new technologies come on board—hello aluminum F-150—the numbers will keep getting better as we approach the 2025 deadline.

America’s Biggest Solar Provider Has A New Way To Make Rooftop Systems More Affordable—Every day brings stories about how solar is becoming increasingly affordable. Pretty soon it will be the same as putting on a new deck for a lot of people. I hope to put my solar system on the house next year. Yee hah!

Home Solar Plus A Battery Could Be Cheaper Than The Grid In Germany In Just A Few Years—Think about a market where solar plus a battery being cheaper than the power provided by a centralized grid? The demand destruction would be enormous.

$7 Million Annual Reduction In Lighting Costs For Ford Due To $25 Million LED Investment—This is a great investment. How good? The NPV value of this deal is $29 million assuming a discount rate of 5% and no inflation of the annual reduction in costs that might happen due to increasing energy costs. Efficiency is sweet.

Obama to Declare National Monument in San Gabriels—This is another step closer to creating a national park right on the doorstep of metro Los Angeles. Imagine that.

Translogic 160: Detroit Bus Company—This is a great story about someone creating a solution to a community’s need. A lot of the world may have left Detroit for dead, but there are a lot of people who refuse to believe the commonly held sentiment about the city’s future.

A Cool Folding Tricycle That Can Also Haul Your Groceries—I really hope that human powered mobility is the future of transportation for a majority of our needs and I hope more nifty solutions like this come to market. It’s just cute and cool.

Your Coffee is about to Get a Lot More Expensive—Climate change may be about to smack our favorite morning indulgence. Drought in Brazil, rust in Central America, and god knows what else around the world is sending coffee prices soaring in wholesale markets.

Colorado’s First Legal Hemp Harvest Since 1957 is Underway—It’s not going to set the world on fire because seed stocks are limited and expertise is lacking, but the future of hemp farming in America is happening. A lot of this year’s efforts are going into seed saving which will help subsequent years be successful.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at How Infographics Are Made—I love infographics for some strange reason. Some people like trashy romance novels or porn. I like infographics. It’s interesting to see some of the tricks of the trade.

Friday Linkage 10/3/2014

October…where did my summer go? BTW, it’s a little more than a month until Breckenridge opens for the season. Who’s ready for some powder days?

On to the links…

Solar Energy Boom In Texas Approaching? Looks Likely—When Texas embraces the potential liberation of solar, you know the world is on the path toward a cleaner and greener future. Granted, it’s still the land of ridiculous belt buckles and dinosaur juice.

New York’s Bold New Plan To Expand Solar Energy—This is not a sunny state we are talking about taking the solar challenge. The projects in this initiative will increase the solar production in the state by 68%. Imagine a five year trend where growth was 68% per year…damn, that would be a 1,338% increase. Too amazing to even imagine.

China Says Build More Solar Now—Some days I wonder what it would be like to control a command economy. You can tell me China is capitalist or communist all day long, but it is really a capitalist command economy which is such a strange thing. I could just say build more solar and wind, but no more of those coal fired power plants.

Solar Power Could be World’s Top Electricity Source by 2050—According to the IEA, or International Energy Agency if you’re feeling nasty, solar could be the top dog of electricity production by 2050. Talk about some serious demand destruction if that is the case.

Solar Energy Storage System For Homes and Businesses Unveiled—A small-scale distributed way to level out the spikes in demand and production might be the holy grail of the smart grid of the future.

Nebraskans Raise Their Voices in Fight Against Keystone XL Pipeline—The fight over Keystone XL has created some strange bedfellows who would not normally see eye to eye on most issues. I guess when a landscape you love is threatened by permanent destruction than you make concessions.

$25 Million Algae Biofuel Blitz Planned By Energy Department—Maybe in the future we will power our cars and trucks with pond scum. Maybe…

Scientists Trace Extreme Heat in Australia to Climate Change—Australia, a huge per capita user of energy, is baking in a changed climate. Put another shrimp on the barbie.

I’m Optimistic About Climate Change, and You Should Be Too—I don’t think that I share the author’s optimism, but I have some level of hope that we will find a way forward that does not destroy the progress that human beings have made.

A Call to Action Against a Predator Fish—Along with Asian carp, is there a worse invasive species than the lionfish? These things are like the perfect storm of an invasive species. Fried lionfish bites anyone?

Everything But The Squeal: How The Hog Industry Cuts Food Waste—Using every part of the animal for some type of product is how the industrial ag machine stays profitable. It’s the same way with oil refining. Making gas and diesel keeps the lights on, but the other products are where the refinery gets into the black.

50 Cost-Efficient Ways To Make Your Home More Eco-Friendly—It’s been a while since I have featured an infographic. UK based magazine Good To Be Home has a nice list of easy things we could all do at home to be a little greener:

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