Tag Archives: NPR

Friday Linkage 2/17/2017

Is this what it looks like from the inside of a failed state?  The current president cannot go a day without an unforced error blowing up in his face, leaks are rampant, confidantes are completely off message, and the orange master of ceremonies cannot let the smallest slight go unnoticed.  Is it the sign of a completely unhinged personality to respond via Twitter to every perceived challenge to his authority?

On to the links…

Coal-Fired Electricity is at its Lowest since Officials Started Keeping Track—Natural gas and cheap renewables are killing coal.  No one wants to live downwind from a coal plant and the death spiral is on.

The West’s Coal Giant is Going Down—You would be hard pressed to find a more controversial symbol of the coal industrial complex than the Navajo Generating Station, a giant coal fired power plant in Arizona.  With decades of life left in its boilers, its operator is scheduling the beast for shutdown in 2019.  This is a coal plant that burns upwards of 24,000 tons of coal per day.

Wind Energy is Setting Records in the U.S. and Around the World—Wind is cheap, a lot of people work in the industry, and even Republicans are behind the sector as they realize the political suicide of condemning something so popular.  The future may not be as bright, but there is potential for hope.

New North American Wind Power Record Set In Central United States—Over 50% of the electricity served came from wind. Yes it was overnight, but it’s a start.
China Doubled Its Solar Capacity In 2016—No matter what the base, doubling the capacity of anything is a big deal.  There are a lot of problems with China—one party state, authoritarian rule, etc.—but when they decide to go for something, solar in this case, they go big.

U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year—China is not the only one to go big on solar.  We were yuge!

Low Carbon Technologies Now Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels—Low carbon technologies are basically mainstream.  Right wing reactionaries can try and stop the flood, but it is over.

5 Possible Futures for the EPA under Trump—This assumes that the Trump administration is not a flaming crater of incompetence by the end of March.

The United States of Oil and Gas—There are some amazing images that show the pervasiveness of oil and gas in our lives.

To Save The Planet, Give Cows Better Pasture—Managing productive rangeland for grazing may be on the lowest hanging fruit we have for helping to mitigate the near term impacts of climate change.

Outdoor Rec Industry Defends Public Lands—Outdoor recreation is a huge—sorry yuge—economic activity that needs to be taken into account when changes to our public lands policy are proposed.  Your elected representatives need to understand the value that you place on these lands.  The companies you patronize need to be reminded of the value that you place on these lands.  The time is now.

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn—I am really intrigued by this idea.  Bringing the flavor of a pepper without the heat might convert some of my family members.

The Best Trick for Cutting Down on Sugar—After getting some exercise there is no better or bigger change you can make in terms of your health than cutting down or eliminating added sugar from your diet.

Friday Linkage 6/5/2015

The week just flies when you get a bike ride in for six straight days. I could get used to this life if the weather would just continue to be pleasant. Fat chance of that happening as the summer humidity is already starting to build here in Eastern Iowa.

On to the links…

Solon Farm Converts 25 Acres into Largest Hopyard in Iowa—I cannot wait to enjoy some of these local hops in a tall glass of Big Grover Brewery beer.

Research Downplaying Impending Global Warming is Overturned—If all this is looking a lot like what happened to tobacco companies in the 1990s it should because a lot of the same players are involved on the side of industry. They just shifted issues and are still getting paid to spread disinformation and lies.

The Beginning Of Wildfire Season Means More Bad News For Drought-Stricken West—No one knows how big or bad this wildfire season will be, but considering how dry California is right now there is the potential that it could be huge.

The Texas Floods Are So Big They Ended the State’s Drought—I doubt that the solution will be long lived, but it is amazing how much rain the storms in Texas brought to bear.

Disturbing Infographic Shows How Plastic is Clogging our Oceans—Hint, it’s a lot:

plastic-buildup-720x6888.jpg.650x0_q70_crop-smart

New Report Suggests U.S. Can Meet Its Climate Goals Without Congressional Action—We have the tools to address the worst aspects of climate change and it does not require a functioning legislative branch of government. Imagine that.

Regulators Give Green Light to Largest Minnesota Solar Energy Project—$250 million spread over 21 sites is a lot of solar in a state more associated with hot dish and passive aggressive behavior than harvesting the sun. Is Minnesota the United States’ Germany when it comes to solar PV?

Insane Solar Jobs Boom About To Get $32 Million More Insane—Here is when things start to snowball. As jobs become realized and the sector becomes attractive to investment the ancillary jobs in R&D, program management, etc. will start to flourish. There may be hope for us yet.

Coal Industry Received More Than $73 Billion In Last 8 Years—War on coal my ass. The world spends billions every year propping up this dirty fuel.

How Renewable Energy in South Africa is Quietly Stealing a March on Coal—Coal is dead. Developing countries are trying to get out from under the long term entrapment of coal fired power and renewables are the go to source because they are not dependent on the old paradigm.

Meat Giant Hormel To Gobble Up Slightly Smaller Meat Giant Applegate Farms—“Big organic” just got even bigger as the purveyor of everyone’s favorite canned meat product is buying the maker of those ubiquitous chicken sausages that come out during grilling season.

We’re Eating Less Meat—Yet Factory Farms Are Still Growing—It’s like the Lorax. These operations just keep on biggering and biggering. Everyone needs a thneed.

It’s Raining Nitrogen In A Colorado Park. Farmers Can Help Make It Stop—Between nitrates in the water and nitrogen in the air modern farming is a very dirty business. Unsurprisingly, modern management and practices can reduce the impact significantly.

Invasive Carp Caught Farther Upstream on St. Croix River—This is a big deal for the water ecosystems of the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region because these invasive species decimate local populations of fish.

The Real Sharing Economy Doesn’t Require Apps, Just Kindness—The “sharing economy” is a buzzy term for something that people in closer knit communities have been practicing since the dawn of time. When you know your neighbors it’s a lot easier to ask someone to borrow a tool you might use once a year. Trust me, I own a pickup and I am everyone’s friend about once a year.

Friday Linkage 4/24/2015

Earth Day came and went. I hardly even noticed save for some really shameless corporate greenwashing and lame ass ads about “going green.” Not using plastic t-shirt bags and single use bottles is great, but there are much larger problems that we fail to start a conversation about and these are the problems that threaten our very survival.

On to the links…

The Deepwater Horizon Disaster Was Five Years Ago Today. Here’s What We Still Don’t Know.—On April 20th of 2010 the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and began spewing oil. It was one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. The scariest part is that we have little to no idea about the long term impacts of all that oil in the gulf. Heck, we wonder where some of it even went.

Idaho’s Panther Creek Comes Back from the Dead—We have the ability to bring restoration to the landscapes that we have destroyed. It may not be pristine, but it can be better.

Interior Considers Hike in Oil and Gas Royalty Rates—It is critical to remember that we lease lands to oil and gas companies out of the public trust for low rates. Not only do these companies enjoy generous subsidies and are not required to compensate anyone for the externalities associated with fossil fuels, our government allows them to do it for a rate far below what the market would bear.

Conservatives Upset At Pope’s ‘Green Agenda’—The Catholic Church may be behind the times on a lot of issues, but it is amazing to see the transformation of tone under Pope Francis. The conservatives of the world who used the Catholic Church as a common ally in all things retrograde are flipping a gasket that the pope would talk about things like poverty and equity.

Emissions, Economic Growth Parting Ways—The lockstep rise in emissions and economic growth was one of those economic laws you just figured on. When emissions went down it was usually because the economy was in a recession. The reverse being true when emissions went up. Data suggests that this linkage may be broken.

How Solar Got Cheap—A lot of factors went into making this dramatic drop in costs happen. Take fifteen minutes and listen.

SolarCity Gets Help From Credit Suisse To Finance Over $1 Billion In Commercial Solar + Storage Projects—Solar plus storage is going to be the next big development in distributed renewables. Mark my words. Or better yet, mark Elon Musk’s words.

Tesla’s New Battery Could Solve One of Solar Power’s Biggest Problems—Everyone is anticipating that on April 30th Tesla will announce the development of a battery meant to store power generated at a home. It might be a game changer.

China’s Risen Energy Lands 1.2 GW Solar Power Deal In Inner Mongolia—Even Inner Mongolia is getting on the solar PV bandwagon.

Ghana Off-Grid Households To Benefit From 100,000 Solar PV Systems—In the developing world solar and other distributed renewables have the chance to leapfrog the centralized power grid paradigm of western economies.

300 MW Of Solar Connected To UK Grid In March By Schneider Electric—Remember for a moment that these are numbers coming from one company in one country that is not known for its great solar resources. It would have not been too long ago that the announcement of 300MW of solar capacity would have been cheered. Now it is barely noticed.

We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership—All companies that sell you products want to make it a rental economy because that guarantees a stream of revenue. If they can prevent you from customizing or repairing your items than you do not really own them. You are just renting them from The Man.

Inside the Hellscape Where Our Computers Go to Die—The western world’s e-waste is out of sight and out of mind. However, someone ends up dealing with the waste and trying to make a living from whatever value can be extracted despite the huge environmental and health cost.

Friday Linkage 3/13/2015

Things are going to be on hiatus for a while during my vacation, which begins about lunchtime today. Later.

On to the links…

Here’s What Gas Would Have To Cost To Account For Health And Environmental Impacts—If gasoline prices had to account for externalities it would cost an additional $3.80 per gallon. That would make a gallon of gas here in eastern Iowa cost ~$6.25. Seems about right.

The World Added 51,477 Megawatts of Wind Power in 2014—That total number represents a 44% increase over the prior year.

US Solar PV Installations Surpassed 6 GW In 2014—If you could not tell I have a hard jones for solar. It looks like the rest of the U.S. is catching on to my solar love.

Solar and Wind on Track to Dominate New U.S. Power Capacity in 2015—2014 was a good year, but 2015 may be even better. The climate change deniers and fossil fuel flunkies can harp about solar panels and wind turbines being for the hair shirt crowd…it does not matter. The market is speaking. I love that invisible hand.

US PV Installations Predicted To Pass 8 GW in 2015—Every time you see a headline the numbers for installations are bigger. It’s like a snowball rolling downhill and picking up some wicked speed.

Solar System Pricing Dropped By 9% In 2014—Almost a 10% drop in one year! Talk about bending the cost curve downward.

Solar As Cheap As Coal… Why Not Cheaper?—Balance of system costs and “soft” costs are keeping the price of solar systems higher than need be. If the cost curve for these other costs were matching the cost curve for panels solar systems would be way cheap.

Hawaii Ready for 100% Renewable Energy—I am a big Hawaii fan. If my family would allow it I would sell all of my stuff and move to the islands tomorrow. It’s also a great laboratory for what the future of renewable energy in the U.S. looks like. Now, if I could just find some of that Hawaiian Sun here on the mainland.

New York Just Showed Every Other State How to Do Solar Right—Public policy is not the most exciting topic to wade through, but small changes can have dramatic impacts on markets. Since most utilities are regulated as public concerns there is a great amount of influence that policy can have on their behavior.

You Can Now Invest In Solar Bonds Through Your Retirement Account—If you thought public policy was boring wait until you wade into the world of IRA options and plan construction. However, trillions of dollars are stashed in these funds so it is a huge potential source of funding for the solar industry if “solar bonds” can become a trusted investment grade vehicle.

Solar Power To Form 25% Of India’s Installed Power Capacity By 2022—India, a rapidly growing emerging economy, is doubling down on renewables, particularly solar, like a riverboat gambler with a hot hand.

Non-Fossil Fuel Sources Provide 25% of China’s Electricity—China’s air may be a mess and the country is still a totalitarian state, but they are trying.

Ghana Increases Levy On Petroleum Products To Fund Solar Power Projects—This is a wonderful piece of policy and something I wish the U.S. would adopt. Tax fossil fuels to fund the development of renewables. It would never happen here because of big money influence. You go Ghana.

Documents Detail Sugar Industry Efforts To Direct Medical Research—As if you needed more proof that the industrial giants behind sugar and process foods were manipulating health officials, doctors, and governments. Well, here you go.

Perennial Rice: In Search of a Greener, Hardier Staple Crop—Perennial rice seems like a great idea as it avoids the destructive process of planting, but critics point to lower yields. It’s an interesting scientific pursuit.

The True Energy Savings of Living Sustainably—I have not posted an infographic in a while and thought this one uses British pounds as a currency you can do the math to figure out what the savings would be:

MillerHomes_Infographic2015

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 10/31/2014

Just living takes a lot of time. You wake up, get the kids ready for the day, finish a day of work, make some dinner, and look up to see that it is almost 7:00 which means the bedtime routine is about to start. I envy people who find time in their day for other pursuits, but I am not one of those people lately. It’s like we barely have time enough to get the bare minimum done. I guess this is what you mid-thirties with two kids is supposed to be like. Right?

On to the links…

Climate Change And Rising Violence Are Linked, According To 55 Scientific Studies—Get ready for a world where conflicts arise because of climate change. If you thought the water wars in the Mad Max films were a fantasy then you have not been paying attention.

NPR Guts Its Environment And Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part Of The Problem’—If NPR, which usually gets credit for being one of the honest brokers, is not giving good coverage to climate issues who will be the voice of reason? It sure as shit is not going to be Fox News.

Solar Grid Parity In All 50 US States By 2016, Predicts Deutsche Bank—Imagine the demand destruction that can take place when solar is on par with the cost of other power sources. The panels on your roof could be putting out power on a per watt basis that was comparable with dirty coal or fracked natural gas. Let the sun shine, baby!

Minnesota Gets Ready To Launch Solar Highways—Just look out the window for a moment the next time you drive on a highway and think about all of the land sitting there that could be used for solar energy installations. It’s a lot.

SolarCity Unveils ZS Beam — New System Improves Speed + Affordability Of Solar Carport Installation—If you are done thinking about all of the right of ways along American highways start thinking about all of the parking lots that could be covered with solar carports. It’s an amazing opportunity to get two uses out of space that is just sitting there and is not very aesthetically pleasing.

The Australian Solar Industry Has Grown By 1 GW Since July 2013—When you think about Australia you probably think about the sun. Here is a country roughly the size of the continental United States that gets absolutely blasted by the sun. It should be covered in solar panels.

MGM Installs America’s Largest Rooftop Solar Array but it Only Powers 1/5 of the Hotel—This solar array is freaking huge and it only powers 20% of the convention center/hotel’s needs. That really speaks volumes about the nature of energy use in Las Vegas. It is still cool to see something of this scale done.

How Cheap Wind Energy Threatens To Upend The Kansas Governor’s Race And Upset The Koch Brothers—What the heck is wrong with Kansas? It is the home the Koch brothers, which is bad enough but it is also the state that elected Sam Brownback to be governor. That guy is a complete stooge. The state should also be covered in wind turbines like Iowa, but the industry is still in its infancy. WTF?

America’s Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan—The S.S. Badger is a freaking ecological disaster that as used political machinations to continue operation long beyond its expiration date. It looks like the boat might finally be cleaning up its act. Somewhat.

How California is Turning Drainage Canals Back to Rivers—People think of California as this ecological oasis, but its modern history has been of subverting the natural order. As people begin to realize the value of nature some of these mistakes are being rectified.

John Oliver’s Takedown of the Sugar Industry is Pretty Sweet—John Oliver, like his former boss, delivers some of the most had hitting commentary with a hint of humor that is undeniably excellent. I cannot wait for the 2016 election cycle. It’s going to be epic. Although his assertion that cranberries taste like cherries that hate you is a little harsh. C’mon John.

Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free?—Gluten. The new big bad in the nutrition “whack a rat” game. It’s funny how people eliminate gluten and feel better. No, it’s really just common sense that if you eliminate beer, refined carbohydrates, and lots of calories that you will feel better. Alas, it’s a fad.

What the World Eats—Check out National Geographic’s series of images on what various countries eat. It’s kind of shocking.

What Food Do We Throw Away the Most?—Ahhh, an infographic. Noel Dempsey has produced a couple of graphics that show what we throw away:

Food-Waste-Infographic

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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