Tag Archives: Patagonia

Friday Linkage 10/4/2019

For the first time in forever…sorry, Frozen fans I was just thinking that for the first time in a long time it actually feels like fall.  Within the span of a single work week we have seen the temperatures drop from nearly ninety degrees to nearly freezing overnight.  Welcome to the Midwest during the shoulder season!

On to the links…

The Short List Of Climate Actions That Will Work—It is super easy to explain to people:

  1. Electrify everything
  2. Overbuild renewable energy generation
  3. Integrate electrical transmission across continents
  4. Build hydropower storage systems
  5. Plant a lot of trees
  6. Reform agriculture to capture carbon in the soil

And so on.  None of these actions is hard to grasp or hard to implement.  It just takes political will.

Solar, Wind Are Now Cheaper Than Coal In Most Of The World—The battle has been won.  To win the war we must keep pressing forward.

World’s Largest Wind Turbines to be Built off Yorkshire Coast—It is hard to grasp the scale.  A single turbine producing enough electricity to power 16,000 homes.  Wow.  This is why the UK is transitioning away from coal.

McCharge? Yes, McDonald’s Wants To Charge Your EV—One of the goals of any convenience type purchase—food, gasoline, coffee, etc.—is to increase the number of trips you make to the location.  The more trips a person makes increases the potential that the person will spend more money.  If you could spend thirty minutes on a DC fast charger at McDonald’s while wolfing down a Big Mac it might make you stop.

Volta’s EV Network Gives You 30 Minutes of Free Fast Charging—Think about this as an amenity that draws traffic.  If you have an EV and can get thirty minutes of high voltage charging would you be more likely to stop at that retail location over another?  Probably.

First Gas Station in America to Ditch Oil for 100% Electric Vehicle Charging Opens in Maryland—Someone had to be first.  However, given that EV charging does not require expensive underground storage tanks for a flammable liquid like traditional gas stations I have to imagine that the old model of gas stations is a dinosaur.

Here Is Why Electrification Of Medium/Heavy Trucks Is Important—Representing just 4% of vehicles these trucks are responsible for 9% of vehicle miles traveled and 26% of fuel gallons consumed:

Vehicle Population, VMT, and Fuel Use by Vehicle Class, 2017 Source energy.gov.png

Anheuser-Busch To Deploy 21 BYD Electric Trucks In California—The truck that is delivering those cases of Natty Light may now be an EV.

If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef—One change, half of our greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal.  Simple.

That Viral Study About Red Meat Left Out The Most Important Part—Climate change is the greatest risk to our collective health.  Ignoring its potential impacts when considering the climate change impacts of red meat production is like trying to quantify the opioid epidemic without looking at heroin use.

Amid Rising Demand for Beyond Meat Burgers, U.S. Farmers Can’t Solve This Supply Problem—It has not even been a complete growing season in North America since Beyond Meat went public and meat substitutes became a thing in the United States.

Germany Makes a National Commitment to Rescue Its Forests—There is a massive amount of climate change mitigation potential waiting to be exercised in rebuilding our stocks of forested lands.  As rain forests in South America and Indonesia burn as a result of bad policy it is more important than ever to rethink our relationship to the forests in our collective backyards.

Los Angeles, a City Known for Its Freeways, Is About to Plant a Shit Ton of Trees—I do not know if it is actually a “shit ton” of trees, but it is a start.  Now imagine communities across the United States and the world for that matter doing the same thing.  It is possible.

The Story of The Largest Private Land Donation In History and Creation of Patagonia National Park—Just take a few minutes out of your day and watch this video.  Also, imagine a world where the uber rich like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg spent money on truly bold conservation efforts.

What Would It Be Like to Live in an Era of Geoengineering?—Is it our fate to live on a planet where we have knowingly changed the natural systems to counteract our own collective stupidity?  God I hope not.

Find Your Tribe

In this crazy, mixed up world where Donald Trump can claim that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia to harm her own campaign as a means to explain his innocence we need to find solid footing more than ever.  We need to find that tribe of people who connect with our beliefs and our passions in order to feel that we belong to this larger universe.  You need to find your tribe.

What do you are about?  What makes your heart sing?  What makes you smile to get up in the morning and see the possible?  Take stock of these things to find your tribe.

It is important to be part of something larger when engaging with your elected representatives because it gives your message staying power.  If you correspond with them as a member of an organization that has individuals testifying or is providing lobbying materials on behalf of an issue it resonates.  There is a reason why the AARP gets its message heard.  When thousands of people call and tell their representatives that the issue is important to members of AARP that legislative agenda gets traction.

Consider the power we can wield.  When Trump, goaded by the Utah congressional delegation and local state politicians including the governor, announced his intention to review more than a dozen monuments declared under several prior presidential administrations the outdoor community howled.  Better yet progressive outdoor companies led by Patagonia and followed quickly by Arc’teryx, Polartec, and Peak Designs among others made it very clear that they would not participate in the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer convention that took place in Salt Lake City.

By July 2017, less than five months after the actions by the outdoor community, Outdoor Retailer announced it would be moving its convention to Denver.  Numbers are hard to come by and notoriously unreliable, but most accounts attribute upwards of $45 million dollars in spending due to the presence of Outdoor Retailer.  I do not care how right wing your politics run $45 million is a lot of money getting pumped into the local economy.

Why did this happen?  Outdoor advocates and companies banded together in a coherent way to make it known they would not stand for the wonton giveaway of our public lands to moneyed interests.  This is the power of our tribes.

This is something that the right wing has understood for years with organizations like the NRA.  Very few members of the NRA actually espouse the virulent views of its leadership but they are counted among the faithful when it comes time to apply political pressure.  We can apply the same level of political pressure on behalf of our causes.

Be active in your tribe.  Be unforgiving in your defense of your tribe.  Be passionate about your tribe.

If you happen to be one of those people so dispossessed and apathetic that there is nothing for which you would man the barricades may whatever god have mercy on your soul.

Stuff I Like: L.L. Bean Ascent Jacket

The weather has turned cold, so the fleece and other winter wear has come out of hiding for the season.  How cold?  On November 11th the mercury was dipping toward single digits in the evening before I went to bed.  Even more than the temperature dropping was the feel of cold weather.  It just feels like winter is coming in your bones.

This year I wanted something to replace my nearly decade old softshell jacket for those days when the full-on winter coat is just too much.  Plus, I wanted it to be stowable for travel.

Down was out of the picture.  The down feather industry just seems pretty nasty.  If viable options existed that could provide warmth without the cruelty I was down.  Pun intended.  Plus, natural down is known for losing its insulation properties when wet because it loses its loft.  Synthetic insulation does not necessarily have this problem.

I first looked at the Nano Puff from Patagonia.  This is usually my first and last stop for casual outdoor clothes.  Something just did not fit.  The large was much too snug and the extra-large felt like it is was roomy in all the wrong places.  Reading reviews it became apparent that the fit had been changed recently.  Oh well.

The new Thermoball jackets from The North Face seemed like it might be the ticket.  There were two problems that I had with the Thermoball.  First, it felt like I was the Michelin man when I wore the jacked because of its puffiness or loft.  This may seem silly given that the loft is one of the reasons why these jackets insulate so well, but I am willing to sacrifice some technical proficiency for a little bit of fit.  Second, the price.  The price tag was ~$200.  Even with my annual fall member coupon from REI I was staring at a $160 jacket to bridge me between the warm fall days and my full on winter coat.  Seemed a little excessive.

Enter the L.L. Bean Ascent Packaway Jacket:

Ascent Jacket

The cut is a little looser than the Nano Puff, but it is not as puffy as the Thermoball.  Filled with 60g PrimaLoft One the jacket is plenty warm, blocks the wind, and packs away into a really small package for stowing somewhere until needed.

The cost hit a nice target for me as well.  I got this jacket for ~$80 using a 20% off coupon and free shipping.  At half the cost of the Thermoball I think the tradeoff in performance for price and fit was a worthy bargain.

Jackets that stuff down into manageable sizes are critical when you’re traveling.  If you’re stuck doing the airline tango you want to carry as little as possible because there is probably some new fee where you have to pay for space to put your feet.  Or, if you’re like me and have kids, space is at a premium when you are packing the car for a trip.  Trust me, by the time you get the gear all loaded up the back of the Outback is pretty jammed.

We tend to travel to places where the weather is a little schizophrenic.  I have been in Colorado Springs visiting family friends and seen the temps swing as much as forty degrees in the days that we are there.  Or, if you end up driving from the Front Range to altitude the temperature drops.  Having a warm jacket that is packed away discretely is a life saver that makes things just that much more comfortable.  I wish I had one of these jackets when I was in Amsterdam in 2008.  My friend and I were at the main train station in mid-March watching snow fall on the massive bike parking area wondering why we did not pack warmer clothes.

As much as I like my Ascent jacket, I do have to point out that L.L. Bean heir Linda Bean’s Maine Lobster eatery is a pretty nasty place for a crustacean to spend its last moments on Earth.

Note: I receive no compensation for writing about this product and actually purchased it with my own money.

Friday Linkage 9/27/2013

So, it looks like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that the preponderance of global warming is caused by humans.  Boom, outta’ here!  While this may be hailed as a revelation in some quarters, it will be treated with disdain by a large chunk of the political establishment in the U.S. that treats any news about climate change by sticking their fingers in their ears and singing Christian rock.  Yes, I am looking at you Steve King.

Nonetheless, I am hopeful that the conversation can move beyond the whole “the science is not settled” debate.  Not likely, but I am hopeful.

On to the links…
Cherokee Bear Park May Be Sued By Tribal Elders For Violating Endangered Species Act–The fact that this place exists is a damn shame.  A similar park was shut down recently and the bears were relocated to a sanctuary.  PETA has been trying for years to get these animals released from hellish conditions.

In 2013, Worldwide Solar Power Installations Will Overtake Wind For The First Time–Part of it was a function of regulations and taxation, but solar is really coming on as a competitive source of energy.  Not just renewable energy, but energy overall.

Energy Needs Water and Water Needs Energy–The two are inexorably tied.  Without water there cannot be energy production and vice versa.  It’s one of the angles about hydraulic fracturing that often goes unreported.

Will Offshore Wind Finally Take Off on the East Coast–It’s a trend in Europe, but the U.S. has yet to utilize offshore wind resources.  Will that end with several offshore wind farms in the planning stages on the eastern seaboard?

India Plans To Build The Largest Solar Plant In The World–When solar power reaches the “India price” it should take off, so say the experts.  Guess what?  It’s already passed that boundary.  Get ready for liftoff.

How Algae Could Create Better, More Efficient Gasoline Than Corn–Algae is the next great promising biofuel.  Unlike first generation biofuels it does not compete as a food source and it can utilize marginal land.  However, with biofuels the promise always seems to be illusory.

Supermarkets Should Sell More Ugly Fruit–Walk into the produce section of your supermarket and it is a veritable cornucopia of good looking fruits or vegetables.  Now think back to the produce that comes out of your garden.  How much of the homegrown produce would conform to the beauty standards imposed by retail?  Not much I imagine.

The Solution to America’s Food Waste Problem?  Feed People–It seems so simple, but the systems need to be in place to take advantage of the tremendous waste that exists in the system.  The fact that we waste so much food while so many people go hungry.

Does Corporate Farming Exist?  Just Barely–Mother Jones magazine has an interesting look at the ownership structure of some sectors of the agriculture economy.  The good news is that corporate ownership is not yet monolithic.

Into the Wildfire–In a world where climate change is a reality, knowledge about wildfires will be increasingly important because it is likely that we will see more frequent and intense wildland fires.  Ugh.

Patagonia’s Radical Transparency Keeps Getting Traction–It’s great to see that a company is so committed to this level of transparency, but it is sad to think about how small of a player such a company is in the grand scheme of things.  Keep on keepin’ on Patagonia.

Friday Linkage 12/8/2011

You know how I am sure winter is settling in?  My 10-year old Mazda does not want to start in the morning.  Maybe it’s the battery.  Maybe it’s 10 years of in town driving.  Whatever the case may be that car is one warm weather snob.

With the bad of winter comes the good as well: hot chocolate with my daughter, sleeping in under flannel sheets, and not worrying about getting outside to accomplish som task on the “to do” list.  Winter is about relaxing under warm blankets and letting the mental batteries recharge.  On to the links…

One-Third of the World’s Energy Solar by 2060–Not if Exxon has anything to say about that happening.  As the prices of PV continue to fall, it is becoming increasingly clear that the portfolio of energy in the near term is going to include a larger degree of solar than previously thought.  Considering that consumer scale PV does not require the infrastructure of high power transmission lines the attractiveness of the option only increases.

North American Solar PV Set to Double in 2011–Maybe the change is already happening.  2011 will see a doubling of the installed base of solar PV in North America driven by US demand.  This is not a doubling of installations, but a doubling of the total power derived from solar PV.  That’s a big deal.  Congress will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Romantic Wood Stoves–On the other end of the spectrum is the realization that the romance of wood heat does not meet the reality.  I remember a friend in Minnesota whose house was heated by wood.  It was always fun to have his dad yell down to the basement to put more logs on the fire because things were getting a bit chilly.

Americans Driving Less–A variety of factors are used to explain the quantifiable decrease in the amount of driving that Americans are doing today.  However, the article does note some structural changes that will continue to accelerate this trend.    Baby boomers are aging and driving less, which is a trend that will only continue.  Teenagers are also getting their driver’s licence at a lower rate–31% of 16-year olds in 2008 versus 46% in 1983.

Suburbia is Not Doomed According to Some–I think the truth of this argument lies somewhere in the middle.   Our obsession with suburban development patterns is coming to an end, but it does not signal a return to some pre-World War II urban development nirvana.  New Urbanism sounds nice, but there are appeals of the suburban life that call to people.  You decide.

James Inhofe is an Ass–Don Young is still an ass,but James Inhofe requires a special shout out as a member of this Hall of Shame.  Who is he kidding anymore?  After his igloo stunt a couple of years ago I wondered if we would make the same claims as his state baked this summer.  Nope, just an ass.

Cargo Bike Litter Patrol–I so want to see one of these on the various in-town trails that I ride on a regular basis.  The trails are not dirty per se, but some of the sections seem to accumulate wind blown trash at an alarming rate.

The North Face’s Sustainability Report–It’s pretty dry reading, but these reports are interesting in that they even exist.  It suggests a shift among the corporate culture that this is something to take seriously.  I do not think the North Face’s effort is as comprehensive as Patagonia’s, but it’s a start.


Friday Linkage 12/2/2011

Black Friday is over, Cyber Monday has passed, the leftovers from Thanksgiving have been eaten, and the assault of Christmas music has begun.  BTW, has anyone recorded a new Christmas song, as opposed to covers of classics, in the last twenty or so years?

On to the links…

Don Young is an Ass–It is worth a moment to watch U.S. Representative Don Young (Republican-Alaska) make an ass out of himself during a hearing.  Granted, historian Douglas Brinkley does a wonderful job of skewering this bully with forthright responses.  Don Young deserves a Google bomb to associate his name with something appropriate.

There’s Arsenic in Your Kids’ Apple Juice–I do not know if I will be able to look at a juice box the same way again after reading about the arsenic content of apple juice.  The failure to regulate this in a coherent way is why people distrust government.  Granted, letting industry regulate themselves will just leave us drinking arsenic smoothies.

Secret Sara Lee Memo Leaked–Looks like a nice load of greenwashing to me.  I guess if Tostitos can try and pass off industrial tortilla chips as “artisan” than Sara Lee can try to pass off the products of a brutal factory farm system as somehow wholesome.  It is sickening what marketing hacks will appropriate in service to their corporate masters.

World’s Largest Marine Reserve Proposed–Australia has proposed creating the world’s largest marine reserve in the Coral Sea, site of some pretty ferocious naval battles in World War II.  Additionally, this would be considered a “no take” area so fishing would be prohibited entirely.  Between this and the carbon tax those folks down under are getting it done.  Too bad that on a per capita basis they emit more carbon than any one else on the planet.

Landmines as a Tool of Preservation–On the other hand, there is the law of unintended consequences.  This reminds me of reports on the pristine nature of the DMZ between North and South Korea.  By forbidding humans to occupy and in most cases even transit an area for over 50 years nature has filled the void.  Obviously, the bucolic nature of the DMZ or Bosnian landscapes is marred by the reality of what drove the lack of human presence.

Retirement Home for Orangutans–It may not be Boca or Sun City, but don’t these wonderful animals deserve some sort of home to call their own without having to worry about deforestation and predation?  Just asking.

Natural Garden Enemies–The University of California-Davis has published a great poster of the beneficial insects in your landscape.  These are not your enemies, but rather the enemies of the insects that you dislike because they ravage some part of your garden.

American Wrest Wrangles with Renewables–I wish people would stop using so many western metaphors when referring to anyplace that remotely smacks of rugged America.  Judging by the issues surrounding drilling within city limits in Colorado the American West is wrangling with energy issues in general.

The Death of the Fringe Suburb–It is my belief that the death of the suburb is greatly oversold for the simple reason that people like the living arrangement.  Sure, living an hour or more away from your job via a car based commute is insane.  However, a lot of the suburban world does not live in that kind of arrangement.

The Myth of the Road Tax–As a cyclist this is one of my favorite arguments to have with car lovers who despise anything that does not belch fumes in copious amounts from a tailpipe sharing the road with their steel beasts.  Every year someone will come up in a legislature to claim that cyclists are not paying their share for infrastructure, etc.  However, neither are car users because the gas tax is so insignificant compared to the costs of the infrastructure.

Nowhere Else in the World is the Validity of Climate Science Debated–As the primary season heats up the rhetoric from the blowhard Republican candidates for President of the United States are sure to rally around the whole “climate science is not decided” camp.  Too bad this is the only place in the world where the validity of the science is so commonly questioned by the relative mainstream. Ugh!

Don’t Buy this Jacket–Patagonia was really screaming at the rain on Black Friday when it ran this ad.  There were still lines at the big boxes, pepper spraying for video games, and general silliness surrounding shopping.  At least someone is trying to cut through the marketing and messaging to say something substantive.

Friday Linkage 9/30/2011

September has come and gone, football season is in full swing, the leaves are turning all sorts of colors, and I am sitting back enjoying the fruits of my homebrew labor.  With the temperatures dropping into the 30s at night the Patagonia Synchilla fleece has been broken out and my daughter is already sipping hot cocoa.  I love the change of seasons.

In North Dakota, Wasted Gas Flares in the Night Sky—The concept seems insane: burn a commodity for which there is a market.  In a world that is increasingly energy constrained, it is crazy to think that in the U.S. we just flare natural gas instead of collecting it for use heating homes, making fertilizer, etc.  Think about this the next time natural gas prices spike in the winter.

U.S. Gasoline Demand Hits 10-Year August Low—Maybe we do not need as much liquid fuel as we thought.  The combination of recession, high prices, and awareness has led to a drop in the demand for oil that is completely discretionary.  It goes to show how much savings potential exists in the system if people really make an attempt.

The Technology to Cut Greenhouse Gasses by 85% by 2050 Already Exists—Not only is it possible to reduce our demand with cuts in our discretionary energy use, but the technology exists today to effectively cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 85% by 2050?  So, what’s the problem?  Oh wait…Republicans…oil companies…grumpy people…NIMBY…

Want to Make Fuel?  Just Add Water—Maybe there is a future for biofuels if we can get past the current and problematic first generation fuels that divert foodstuffs to fuel.  The world has too many hungry mouths to feed for us to justify filling up SUVs with ethanol made from corn or biodiesel made from soybeans.

The Future of Urban Agriculture—In this video, Will Allen—he of the Macarthur Genius award—shows us what his vision of the future of urban agriculture looks like.  In a world where the resiliency of our food system will be paramount this is interesting viewing.

Eco-Living in Gary—For anyone familiar with Gary, Indiana this is a hard concept to wrap your head around.  Eco-living in Gary?  It just goes to show you that anything is possible.

How to Build a Rocket Stove Water Heater—If you thought building tunnels to let chickens do the garden work was ingenious, you are going to love this how-to on building a rocket stove water heater.  If I were building an off-grid home I would be all over rocket stoves and rocket mass stoves.

The Case for Downsizing Your Home—The article is obviously aimed at people considering retirement, but the same arguments that hold true for people living on a “fixed” income hold true for the rest of us because there is no magic money fairy that raises my income whenever I desire.  In a way, we are all on fixed incomes.

Stuff I Life: Patagonia catalogs

It is rare anymore that the Post Office delivers something that I truly enjoy.  Bills…no.  Junk mail…no.  Patagonia catalogs…most definitely yes.

Today I received the Winter 2011 and Kids 2011 print catalogs in the mail:

These catalogs are less opportunity to evangelize about products and more chance to talk about ideas and issues.  Rarely, if ever, will you find another company dedicate entire pages to an essay.  Heck, I reckon that it is near impossible to find a single essay in another catalog let alone multiple.  Never mind the full page pictures of outdoor activity.  It’s like a bonus issue of Outside magazine.

Better yet these catalogs serve as an affirmation.  The people, save for the svelte mountain people adhered to sheer rock faces, look like me and are doing things like me.  I am part of this world!

Even my daughter was flipping through the latest issue only moments after I put it down to make dinner.

Stuff I Like: Under Armour Catalyst t-shirt

I am huge fan of Patagonia’s Capilene products.  I love that the material is made of recycled materials and is completely recyclable even if I have yet to discard one item.  I own probably a dozen pairs of the boxer shorts, four t-shirts, and one pair of tights.  Over the years the material has changed, but it has consistently ranked as one of my favorite fabrics for exercise or spending any time in hot weather.  However, the last t-shirt that I purchased did not fit like the others.  The fit was not bad, just not right for me.  Also, the options all included a large logo.  I am not a logo guy.

Somewhere along the way I stumbled upon Under Armour—yes, the company with the annoying “Protect this house” ads during sporting events—making clothes out of recycled materials.  The UA Green collection includes all varieties of the common Under Armour gear like t-shirts, polos, tights, etc.  Apparently the product takes plastic bottles and turns them into polyester fabric.

Granted, this is nothing revolutionary.  Patagonia has been making its Synchilla fleece out of recycled material for decades and many other products that are made from recycled material as well.  However, a company like Under Armour is massive.  One product line may sell as much as the entire Patagonia catalog in a year.  If a company of that size decides to make a product out of recycled material it moves from quirky sideshow into mainstream.

Unlike most specialty outdoor oriented brands, I can go into several local sporting goods stores and find Under Armour products.  Over lunch before the July 4th weekend I was able to walk in to a store and purchase a white Catalyst loose fit t-shirt for about $32 including local sales tax.  The last Capilene t-shirt that I purchased cost $39 before tax or shipping.  The fit was more like the common cotton undershirts I wear to work than an athletic or slim fit.  Not too tight and not too loose.

The performance on a weekend where the temperatures were in the high-80s to mid-90s with oppressive humidity was excellent.  The material’s feel is very similar to Capilene silkweight and the wicking capability was superb.

I still love my Patagonia products, but Under Armour may have earned a permanent place in my wardrobe.  Especially considering that I need polo shirts for my business casual workplace…