Tag Archives: oceans

Friday Linkage 5/5/2017

We are entering a new dystopia.  It’s a few steps before the Handmaiden’s Tale, but it is not so far off as to be improbable.  Don’t believe me?  Recently, the Alabama senate allowed a church to establish its own police force.  You can talk to me all day long about sharia law, but I am much more worried about evangelicals pushing their putrid stew of erroneous religiosity.  And Donald Trump, our fearless flaccid cantaloupe of a leader, signed an executive order to remove restrictions on a church’s ability to be active politically.

Add into this mess the talk about making it easier for public figures to sue for libel and you have a runway to the apocalypse.

On to the links…

The Drivers Behind Flattening CO2 Emissions—It’s like we got a short reprieve from CO2 emissions increasing, but those drivers are not likely to continue driving any flattening in the long term.  The only long term answer is a move toward a fossil fuel free economy.

Colorado Just Explicitly Banned Rolling Coal After An Incredibly Stupid Debate—Why is this even something that people do?  I should have known we were in trouble as a country when I started seeing this happen.  Hey, look at me, I am an idiot blowing billowing black smoke out my tailpipes!

California is About to Revolutionize Climate Policy … Again—California, you’re our only hope.  How does this state keep electing Darrell Issa to Congress?  I will never understand that conundrum.

“Red State” Utilities Populate the Top 10 Lists for Solar—They might not say it, but even right wingers like the economic arguments for solar.

Turbines Propel Nebraska Past a Wind-Energy Milestone—Welcome to the party Nebraska.

The Energy of Tomorrow Looks Strikingly Artistic from Above—Just some cool images of renewable energy taken from the air.

Once and for All: Obama Didn’t Crush US Coal, and Trump Can’t Save It—Now that right wing reactionaries can no longer rely on the “other” that was Barack Obama they will have to answer why everything they do does not bring back coal jobs.  Oh right, natural gas killed goal.  Oh right, automation killed coal jobs.  Oh right, you guys were full of shit and spent eight years bloviating about a war on coal.

Saving Coal Country by Ending Coal’s Empire—In all the rhetoric about coal jobs leaving coal country there has been little discussion about the abusive practices of coal companies toward their workers.  There is a reason why coal country was a hotbed of militant worker organization.

Portland to Use Sewage Gas to Shift Away from Diesel—What kind of potential exists to do this in cities like New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago? Portland has a population of approximately 620k people compared with approximately 8.5m for New York, 3.9m for Los Angeles, and 2.7m for Chicago.  That is a lot of poo gas.

The Wine Industry’s Battle with Climate Change—Vineyards are agriculture’s canary in the coal mine, so to speak, given the touchy nature of high end grape production.  Many varieties of grapes were bred to grow in particular micro climates that may not exist in the near future.

No Animals Required: Lab-Grown Meat Can Help Beat Antibiotic Resistance—We have to hope for solutions like this because our government will do nothing to combat the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria linked to the over medication of livestock.

2022 Winter Olympics To Be Held On Mountains Where It Doesn’t Snow—How do I know that the Olympics are run by a corrupt organization only concerned with lining their own pockets?  When they decide to host a winter Olympiad on a mountain where it does not snow.

Do You Really Need That? No, You Don’t.—Just stop buying stuff.  Simplest eco advice in history.  Also the most effective.

6 Most Common Sources of Plastic Pollution—Eliminating these sources of plastic pollution is low hanging fruit.

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You Must Read—American Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood

We are what we eat, we are told. But we Americans do not eat what we truly are. We are an ocean nation, a country that controls more sea than land and more fishing grounds than any other nation on earth. And yet we have systematically reengineered our landscapes , our economy, and our society away from the sea’s influence. As of 2012, Americans ate a little less than 15 pounds of seafood per person per year, well below half the global per capita average and miniscule in comparison with the 202 pounds of red meat and poultry we consume. [Page 233]

Paul Greenberg is familiar to readers of this blog because I was a big fan of his prior book Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food. The author is back with a take on seafood that is closer to home, which is appropriate given the rapid rise in local food movements across the United States.

51dbCQm3YhLAmerican Catch: The Fight for Our Local Seafood is about the relative dearth of seafood eaten by American diners that is sourced from American waters. Through the lens of three types of seafood—oysters, shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaskan salmon—Greenberg illustrates the odd market forces at work with respect to American sourced seafood.

Nothing illustrates his point better than the juxtaposition of Alaskan salmon and imported tilapia:

It was then and there that it hit me—the bizarre devil’s bargain that Americans have entered into with their seafood supply. Americans now harvest our best , most nutritious fish in our best-managed Alaskan fisheries and send those fish over to Asia. In exchange, we are importing fish farmed in Asia, with little of the brain-building compounds fish eaters are seeking when they eat fish. [Page 190]

Yes, we basically trade Alaskan salmon for fish that is barely fish. Tilapia is fish with training wheels. It is fish for people who find the flavor of cod, haddock, or Pollock not quite bland enough. My father, who slurped oysters with the best of them, referred to it as “Chinese junk fish” because it offered none of the benefits of fish while serving up a host of economic and environmental concerns.

We, as a whole, do not really consider the bounty of the sea. Cattle and the steaks that are cut from their carcasses are the apex foodstuff that comes from American land followed closely by the legions of swine and chickens processed into McRibs and nuggets of various odd shapes:

We need to understand that the marshes of Louisiana are not just an idyll to observe egrets and alligators; they are a food system, one that provides a large portion of the catch in the continental United States. If we choose to , we can support the environment that is home to shrimp, redfish, bluefish, blue crabs, oysters, flounder, sea trout, and others. Yes, there is a small risk of contamination from eating wild seafood from the Gulf. But that risk, when compared to all the other food risks we take as a nation, is infinitesimal. [Page 155]

It’s about consumer behavior and realizing the bounty that is present on our shores. If we could just get out of the whole bland white shrimp, slightly pink salmon, and piles of tilapia complex their could be a huge outpouring of economic support for American seafood. The challenge lies in getting people to accept something that is outside of their comfort zone. Ironically, this has been done already with more familiar land based foods. A few years ago odd cuts of beef like flank or skirt were sold for a fraction of the price of more mainstream cuts, but now those flavorful cuts command a premium. Heritage breeds of pork and poultry populate our palates in increasing numbers every year. Why can’t we do the same with food that swims?

But the future of the American catch depends not only on American governance , but also on the behavior of American consumers. There is no more intimate relationship we can have with our environment than to eat from it. [Page 16]

Take a weekend, read Greenberg’s American Catch, and think about the next type of seafood that you order at a restaurant or buy at the supermarket. Make it Alaskan salmon or Gulf shrimp or an odd filet that the fishmonger at the co-op is all excited about that week. America depends on it.

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 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 3/15/2013

I am a little perplexed by the sudden fascination with the Catholic Church.  Sure, a new pope was elected to replace a prior pope who had retired which in and of itself was somewhat historic.  However, where is the coverage of the actions of the Catholic Church when there is no smoke coming from a sad little chimney stuck on the roof of the Sistine Chapel?  Here is an organization with worldwide influence that fails, time and time again, in recent history to really speak out for the most vulnerable members of its flock.  Sad.

On to the links…

The Rare Non-Sucky Infographic on Climate Change—I am a sucker for the infographic:

climate-flowchart_final2

Iowa and South Dakota Approach 25 Percent Electricity from Wind in 2012—That’s my state baby!  Okay, Iowa not South Dakota.  I do not want to take credit for South Dakota.  It’s too bad that a lack of coherent federal policy may stifle the growth of homegrown, clean, unlimited energy in the Midwest.

In Search of Energy Metaphors Debunking the Inadequecy of Renewables—If you cannot actually find reasons to oppose the technology, play the metaphor game to make people think things are not ready for prime time.  Sorry folks, but renewables are real.  Today.

How Crowdfunding Lowers the Cost of Solar—Crowdfunding of solar projects really captures my imagination, but I believe it will be a hard sell overall.  Why?  Because energy companies hate anyone getting to play in their sandbox.  Just spend an afternoon at a rate adjustment hearing.

Japan Says it is First to Tap Methane Hydrate Deposits—Methane hydrate has always been a science fiction energy source to me.  I remember reading about deposits of frozen methane on the sea floors when I was in high school, which was over 15 years ago.  Now, it looks like the Japanese might have cracked the code.

New and Improved Biofuels Report Predicts Cost Competitive Cellulosic Ethanol—Imagine a liquid bio-fuel that was cost competitive with gasoline and was not derived from foodstuffs.  Yeah, cellulosic ethanol does seem like science fiction but it is real.  The problem has always been scaling production at a cost that is competitive.  It appears that the technical hurdles are being overcome, which means that the remaining hurdles are operational or logistic.

What Steamships and Landlines can Tell Us About the Decline of the Private Car—I thought this was an excellent thought piece on why certain technologies endure so long after their obvious eclipse by superior technologies or systems.  It’s also a warning to not be complacent about driving change because the most visible markers might be lagging indicators of progress.

State Efforts to Retake Public Lands Linked to ALEC—Big surprise that a conservative effort to privatize public lands for private gain or exploitation is traced back to the ever evil ALEC.  Does an original idea every come out of the minds of modern day conservative politicians or are they merely mouth pieces for conservative think tanks?

Doubling Back for the Road Kill—Does road kill qualify as the ultimate in sustainable meat?  I have lived in rural or semi-rural communities almost my entire life and I do not remember a single person eating road kill.  Ever.  Sure, people would take a buck home that had a nice rack to mount if it had been struck on the road but never the meat.

Bees Love Caffeine as Much as We Do—Why can I just see some bees talking to each other about the sweet nectar of that plant over there that just makes you fly!

BPA Harmless?  Not so Fast—Why would anyone try and rehabilitate BPA?  Probably because there is a lot of money involved.  Always follow the money.

Hospitals are Not Prepared to Deal with Nightmare Bacteria—If you want to read something that will really scare you…click on the link.  We have an antibiotic use regime that has created a class of super-bugs.  And we are not prepared to deal with those super-bugs because our methodologies and medicines have not kept up.  Joy.

Does Amendment 64 Herald a New Era for Hemp?—People are trying to figure out what Amendment 64 means in Colorado.  Sure, it ostensibly legalized marijuana at the state level but what does that mean for the wonder crop, hemp?

Rains or Not India is Falling Short on Drinking Water—The statistics about losing 30 to 70% of water to leakage and theft just blew me away.  How long before we realize that the true investments we need to be making to address the changing world are education and infrastructure?

Friday Linkage 2/8/2013

This was an interesting week.  More cabinet positions in the Obama adminastration opened up, but one spot–Secretary of the Interior–was filled, pending confirmation.  I think it was considered a surprise that Sally Jewell, the CEO of outdoor outfitter REI, was chosen.  I think it was a somewhat inspired choice because she brings environmental street cred, business experience, and some history with the oil and gas industry.  I am sure that Republican jack asses will find something to hold up the confirmation with, but that is what jack asses do.

On to the links…

U.S. Carbon Emissions Drop to 1994 Levels–It looks like the drop in carbon emissions in the U.S. is not just a reflection of the recession but a more permanent change in the state of affairs.  Sweet.

New Mexico Utility Agrees to Buy Solar Power at a Price Cheaper than Coal–You know that solar has reached a tipping point when commercial contracts for supplying power are priced lower than dirty ol’ coal.  This is really good news.

Wind Farms in Spain Break Energy Record–Since November 1, 2012 electricity generated from wind has been the number 1 source.  Not the number 1 renewable, but the number 1 source among all generation types.  In total wind equals approximately 25% of the total electricity for Spain.  We can take the carbon out of our infrastructure.

We Pay More for Gas than Every Before–In the U.S. the average household spends $2,912 on gas or 4% of the average household pre-tax income.  WTF?  So, even though we are consuming fewer gallons of gas we are paying more for each gallon.

Planting Trees may not Reverse Climate Change, but it Will Help Locally–Damn, and I thought that all of those tree planting schemes were the answer to climate change.  But, it is good to see that there is a chance that planting trees can help reduce the impacts of climate change in a local micro-climate.

On Decimated Shores, A Second Chance for Christmas Trees–It looks like Christmas trees can have other uses besides being mulched.  In Minnesota, I remember trees being sunk in the Mississippi River to provide spawning grounds for fish because driftwood got stuck behind all of the dams.

For Marginalized Urban Recyclers, a Non-Profit with a Can Do Attitude–Canners, or the people you see picking up cans and bottles for the redemption, are one of those urban underbelly populations that people do not even consider.  I am glad to see that someone is trying to make life easier for people who live on the margins.

 World’s First Electric Car Ferry Recharges in 10 Minutes–This boat is wicked cool.  The technology just seems like something that makes sense.  If only we could find a way to replace the S.S. Badger’s dirty engines with something awesome like this Norwegian beauty.

The Cosmestics Wars–Why do we allow companies to use chemicals that are unknown to be safe or not?  Why is the standard not to prove harm but to prove safety?

Trade Group Lawsuit Challenges Olive Oil Labeling–I thought the situation was bad for trying to figure out the country of origin when it came to live oil.  It appears that there is a whole other level subterfuge. Great.

Europe Announces Sweeping Changes to Fisheries Policy–It’s a step in the right direction.  The fact that we thrown away nearly as much fish as we keep for processing is insane when you consider the pressure that the oceans are under.  Maybe there is hope for us after all.

Two Bills Propose Zero Tolerance for Bison–It is ridiculous the way that bison are treated in Montana because of misconceptions.  Never mind the destruction and disease spread by cattle.  Ridiculous.

Why People are Eatig their Own Trash–If you thought the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans was something to worry about when you are at the beach you would be mistaken:

TrashOceansInfographic_e_01

Friday Linkage 1/11/2012

I have been slow and loathe to post anything the past week.  It’s like I have nothing good to write about.  Maybe it’s that seasonal affective disorder that I have heard about.

On to the links…

Average Fuel Economy for U.S. Vehicles in 2012 was 23.8 MPG—This is one of those “boring, but important” stories.  The average fuel economy of new vehicles in the U.S. has been increasing recently and it will only continue to rise as new CAFE rules come into play.  A bit of good news, right?

FDA Offers New Rules to Stop Food Contamination—I am really torn on the new rules the FDA is proposing.  It seems like another wicket for producers to jump through that will burden small producers and allow the large players to just dominate even more.  On the other hand, there is no excuse that a country as advanced as the U.S. should have so many people get sick and/or die from contaminated food in a year.

Staten Island Ferry to Run on Liquefied Natural Gas—When you get done reading this short piece on the conversion of a Staten Island ferry to run on liquefied natural gas (LNG) you will wonder to yourself why all of the ferries are not running on such fuel.  Really, why not?

Queens Wants to Turn an Abandoned Railway into a Parkway—Now, everyone wants their very own High Line.  This is a good thing because the world needs more urban parks.

Lean Manufacturing Addressing Climate Change through Reductions in Waste—I spent the first few years of my professional career in an advanced manufacturing environment where lean manufacturing was the order of the day.  It’s easy to get swayed by the discussion that we can “help” the planet by making less or no waste when making goods.  That is true on the face of things, but it avoids the larger question of whether we need the stuff in the first place.  Just saying.

Unilever Eliminates Plastic Microbeads in Facial Scrubs—Plastic microbeads, like triclosan in ant-bacterial soap, is a pox upon American medicine cabinets.  The little beads that are supposed to exfoliate just wash down the drain, do not get captured for disposal, and end up in the food system of aquatic creatures.  Great.  Just get a freakin’ loofah.

Junk Food Marketers Target Your Kids Online—Isn’t it lovely how wherever children go to play they are bombarded by messages, cleverly disguised as entertainment, from purveyors of crap food?  It’s the little cuties brought to you by Tyson Chicken Nuggets of Doom!

Minnesota’s Largest Solar Installation Starts Producing Energy—If solar power can make it in Minnesota, it can make it anywhere.  If you think there is no sun in England or Germany or the Pacific Northwest you have never spent a winter in Minnesota.  From November until April the sky is a shade of slate gray so depressing it makes ice fishing seem like an ideal past time.

Tehran Choked by Pollution—Nothing says great governance like your capital city being choked by smog to such an extent that it cripples daily life.  Before spending money on a nuclear program or military weapons maybe you ought to think about cleaning up the air.  Just a thought.