Tag Archives: public lands

Friday Linkage 4/28/2017

Did you see the details of Donald Trump’s tax “reform” plan?  Okay, details were sparse because it read like an objectivist’s children’s book on tax reform.  Taxes…bad!  Corporations…good!  If you want to know how this story plays out look at Kansas.  Maybe that is not the comparison that Trump and the Hucksters would like you to make, but it is the most apt corollary.

On to the links…

Is Wind Power Saving Rural Iowa or Wrecking It?—Most people I know who live in rural Iowa are wind power proponents.  Lease payments have allowed people to continue to maintain farms in lean years when crop prices fall.  However, there are those who consider the turbines a blight.  I think that the important question to ask is what these communities would look like without wind power.  There was nothing else that was going to fill the economic void.

Windblown: MidAmerican Zeroes in on 100% Renewable Energy—Iowa, as a whole, may get nearly 37% of its electricity from the wind but utility MidAmerican, owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, is closing in on getting 100% of its juice from the wind.  That seems like something worth celebrating.

Going Green Shouldn’t be this Hard—No one is saying we need to whole hog embrace a hair shirt lifestyle cold turkey.  Incremental improvement across a broad swath of areas is the key to lasting and meaningful change.

How Republicans Came to Embrace Anti-Environmentalism—I think it all comes down to cash.  People like the Kochs, flush with fossil fuel cash, were willing to lavish it on politicians who defended their oily interests.

Outdoor Recreation Industry, Seeing Role to Protect Public Lands, Boasts $887 Billion Impact—There is a downside to exploiting public lands for mineral gain.  The opportunity cost is a loss of sustainable recreation dollars.

Can We Fight Climate Change with Trees and Grass?—We are going to need all the tools we can get in the coming decades.

New Orleans — “Biking Boomtown” — Doubled Rate Of Bicycle Commuters In 10 Years—New Orleans does not leap to the front of mind when thinking about bicycling hot spots.  However, mild winters and a flat topography do make for a favorable location.  Why can’t more communities put some effort into bicycling as transportation like New Orleans?

Dodging Rubble is One Thing — in Mosul, Cyclists Contend with Mortars and Gunfire Too—If you complain about the problems on your commute just think about living in Mosul, Iraq.  First world problems, man.

Milkweed by the Masses: Nebraska Eyes New Habitat Goal for Monarchs, Other Pollinators—Iowa has seen great success with introducing pollinator friendly milkweed patches and it now looks like Nebraska, normally a fairly reactionary environmental state, is getting in on the action.

Does Saturated Fat Clog Your Arteries? Controversial Paper Says ‘No’—No one is saying binge on bacon, but maybe we can finally retire the old Ancel Keys’ wisdom about fats being the root cause of our dietary ills.

Friday Linkage 4/14/2017

Presidents, by the very nature of being one who seeks the presidency, are creatures with massive egos.  However, the current president—who was the loser in terms of the popular vote lest we forget our recent history—has to be one of the most egocentric human beings to ever inhabit the office.  If you take a moment to listen to his interviews or read his tweets, which may lead to a little bit of vomit coming into your mouth, you see someone driven by the need to be the center of everything.  Humility is not something that this man brings to the office.  Ugh…how many more days of this do we have?

Oh right, it’s only 3 years 9 months and 7 days until the next president takes office.  But who is counting?

On to the links…

The Latest Test for the White House? Pulling off its Easter Egg Roll—Not even capable of pulling off the annual Easter Egg Roll.  Sad.

Land Transfer Advocates Steer their Focus to Monuments—This issue demands constant vigilance by advocates of public lands, which thankfully has allied some strange bedfellows in hunters, watermen, skiers, hikers, etc. over the past few months.  Nonetheless, clowns like Orrin Hatch and Jason Chaffetz—seriously, is there something in Utah’s water—are going to push the boundaries until they appease their masters.

EPA Ending Program to Prepare for Climate Change—Scott Pruitt will go down in history as one of the villains of the Anthropocene.  When the history is written by our children and grandchildren he will be remembered as a corporate shill more interested in lining the pockets of his Koch-backed overlords than preserving the environment for the people of the United States.

The De-Electrification of the U.S. Economy—I would not go quite as far as the author suggests, but there are promising trends in the decoupling of electricity consumption and economic activity.

More Subsidies than You Think Influence the Cost of Electricity—Our electricity generation and distribution system is a mess.  Subsidies are one reason why because the price we pay—assuming we even know what the price is per kilowatt hour—is distorted by a plethora of subsidies.

California’s Rising Solar Generation Coincides With Negative Wholesale Electricity Prices—Check out these two charts:

ca-solar-570x293.png

Distributed solar is huge—or is it yuge?—in California.

Washington State’s New 8 Megawatt-Hour Flow Battery is the Largest of its Kind—A big problem with renewables is variability and alignment with demand.  Take solar.  It’s production peaks right before the big demand peak from people coming home from work.  It’s the so-called duck curve.  Flow batteries are promising as a technology to deploy grid level energy storage for managing this mismatch.

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Installs Solar—It’s not April Fool’s Day.  It’s just reality.

Appalachia’s New Trail: Finding Life after Coal—Appalachia, which is an odd way to define a fairly diverse region, has struggled economically since its settlement.  It is not conducive to industry and it has been used a pawn in politics for almost as long as there have been political parties in the U.S.  It’s residents have been abused by corporations claiming to act in their interests and governments forget about the region except every four years.

When Solar Panels Became Job Killers—China’s policies have created an economic situation where the price of solar panels has been driven artificially low.  This has led to a lot of non-Chinese companies being unable to compete with cheap Chinese solar panels.

SolarCity Will Begin Accepting SolarRoof Orders This Month—I really want some of these on my roof.

Making American Hydropower Great Again—Nobody is suggesting building new dams, but retrofitting older dams with new technology could lead to an increase in the available hydropower in the United States.  Hydro is clean, base load power that we need to help even out the differences between peak production and peak demand.

The Best Way to Restore Environments in the Face of Climate Change—Restoration ecology is going to be a major theme of the next few decades as we look to repair the damage that we have caused.  Best practices need to be figured out and shared as broadly as possible.

Rising Salt Levels Threaten Twin Cities Lakes by 2050—There is so much salt runoff from winter road salt that urban lakes will likely by devoid of fish because of rising salinity within our lifetimes.  As if we have not screwed up the planet enough.

New Sharing Depot Opening Reflects Success of Toronto’s Library of Things Movement—I want this to be the future.  Do I really need to own half or more of the tools I use once or twice year?  No.  Why does every house in a suburban neighborhood own their own lawn mower that gets used for an hour or so each weekend?  What a waste.  Sharing is caring, folks.

Friday Linkage 3/24/2017

I find it interesting or, rather, frightening that poll after poll indicates a super majority—as in greater than 60%–of Americans believe climate change is real and driven by human activities.  However, we manage to have an elected government at state and federal levels that fails to do anything other than obfuscate the issue with right wing rhetoric and outright lies.

Now, I understand that this is a dynamic driven by gerrymandering which has led to elected officials that care only for satisfying the core interests of a very skewed base.  It just seems like there should be enough reasonable people to sway the pendulum toward reasonable action.  Granted, we also saw this same electorate put Donald J. Trump in the Oval Office.

On to the links…

A Trump Budget Would Hurt Americans’ Access To Our Public Lands—Trump and his cronies, Russian or otherwise, like access to land as long as no one who is not a member of the club can access the land.  In practice this means that the rich get access and the rest get screwed.  It’s the oligarchs’ way.

The Crazy Theory About Smog That’s Gaining Ground in the White House—When you spend all your time denying science I guess it was going to come to a point when you started to deny common sense as well.  We are so doomed.

CO2 Emissions Flat For Third Straight Year, Still Decoupled From Economic Growth—When economists say economic growth is decouple from emissions growth they are really trying to say that the relationship is less positively correlated.  It used to be something that marched in lockstep, but as the world has cleaned up power generation the relationship has frayed.  This trend destroys the argument that a transition to clean energy will destroy economic growth.

UK Carbon Emissions Fell 6% in 2016 after Record Drop in Coal Use—It may be very difficult over the next few years to achieve broad based success on environmental initiatives, but retiring coal plants can be something that could be achieved given all the impediments faced by coal.  Just retiring these dirty power plants and replacing them with natural gas is a short term win.

Coal in ‘Freefall’ as New Power Plants Dive by Two-Thirds—The export dream of American coal is dying because no one is going to want the coal.

Google’s Project Sunroof Claims 80% Of US Roofs Analyzed Are Suitable For Solar Panels—Let’s get cracking on installing solar panels.  A world where hundreds of thousands of people are employed installing solar panels on 80% of our nation’s roofs is a vision that I think most Americans can get behind.

NASA Finds Biofuels Make Air Travel 70 Percent Greener—I believe that we should try and electrify surface transportation as soon as possible reserving biofuels for applications where energy dense liquid fuels are essential like aviation.

Japanese Company Develops a Solar Cell with Record-Breaking 26%+ Efficiency—This is boring but important.  Advances in solar cell technology are leading us to a point where we are bumping up against the theoretical limit of efficiency.

Huge Plastic Waste Footprint Revealed—We use and throw away too much god damned plastic.  Simple.  Use less of the stuff.

Chesapeake Bay’s Booming Oyster Industry Is Alarmed By Trump’s EPA Budget Cuts—Oysters and the attendant reefs are a big part of the biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay.  After decades of work these systems are being put back into balance and there are now jobs associated with working the bay.  Too bad Scott Pruitt will lead the charge to destroy the progress.

Small-Scale Farming Could Restore America’s Rural Towns—Small scale agriculture is almost by definition labor intensive, so a return to a patchwork of smaller, diversified farms would lead to a growth in demand for people to work the land.  Why would giant corporations be against that?  Oh wait…

Churchyards are Our Forgotten Nature Reserves—Small, forgotten plots of land are a surprising source of biodiversity.

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 2/10/2012

The Republican presidential primary is the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s must see television every night.  The dynamic has gone from Mitt “Corporations are people too my friend” Romney versus Newt “$500k credit line at Tiffany’s” Gingrich to a contest of Mitt “I am the 0.0001%” Romney versus Rick “Please do not Google me” Santorum.

It’s a parade of clowns on Fox News every night as the candidates and supporters contort themselves to an ever greater degree in order to curry favor with the various extreme elements of the modern day conservative movement.  Granted, Rick “No really, please do not Google me” Santorum does not have to change his positions to be radical because he is already a whack job.  The latest nugget is his warning about the tyranny of environmentalism.  Really?  Coming from someone who wants to legislate the nature of people’s sex lives there is little credibility on the nature of tyranny.

On to the links…

Ron Paul is an Ass—I did not want Ron Paul to think that I forgot about him in describing the circus that is the presidential primary season.  However, I felt that his particular variety of ass bagness required his own link.  Calling for the elimination of federal public lands is a new one for this scion of the high school libertarian movement.  Too bad the ideas that sound so cool too affluent right wing bobbleheads just do not make any sense to anyone else with half a brain.

American Corporations are Asses Too—In 2011, the U.S. corporate effective tax rate, please note the difference between statutory and effective tax rates before the flames of right wing indignation begin, reached its lowest point in 40 years.  How low?  12.1 percent on average.  Yep, highly profitable American corporations pay an effective tax rate lower than anyone I know.  How do you like them apples?

Imagine a World without Oil—It sounds like a lyric in John Lennon’s syrupy “Imagine.”  But, it’s an infographic:

European Windpower Grew 11% in 2011—Maybe we will get to that world without oil and avoid all of the apocalyptic scenarios.  Currently, wind power has the capacity to provide about 6.3% of the EU’s electricity and that capacity is growing.  Why anyone would view this trend as anything other than a roaring success is beyond me.

Americans Gaining Independence as Top Producer—And then I am brought right back down to Earth by the news that the U.S. is producing more fossil fuels than ever led by the emergence of new natural gas supplies.  Where we were told four years ago that the country was going to have to import liquefied natural gas now there are plans to export the same product.  It makes me wonder how much these people really know.  But, what are the true costs of these fuels?

Is California’s Solar Gold Rush Destined to Fail—Uh oh!  Are we seeing another bubble developing, this time with it being clean energy from the sun.  Many in the cleantech business are warning that an expiration of government support and a weak economy are looming as a one two punch that could KO their business models.  Exxon would love nothing more.

Terry Thompson and the Zanesville Zoo Massacre—This story was depressing when the first bits of news started to come out of Ohio, but upon further review it seems even worse.  The scary part about this story is that the trade in exotic animals is so pervasive and unregulated.  Here are animals disappearing from the wild because of a panoply of reasons yet there seems to be a large population under private control in homes across the United States.

CREE LEDs Are Not Just More Efficiency, They Are Better—Every day seems to bring a report about the improved performance, increased efficiency, or reduced cost of LED lights, which are the next wave of technology to supplant the incandescent, halogen, and CFL bulbs of our past.  CREE is leading the innovation, but others like Soraa are also pushing the boundaries of what is considered possible.

A Texas Developer Reimagines the American Subdivision—The whole concept of SOL Austin is pretty sweet.  Smaller homes that are smart and livable.  Taking advantage of an overlooked parcel of land within city limits rather than mindlessly expanding outward.  Damn…

Exploding Hog Barns—Do you need another reason to swear off industrial meat?  How about the phenomenon of exploding hog confinement operations because the manure lagoons develop a gas trapping foam crust.  At least the University of Minnesota is researching solutions…oh wait, the solution is to not perpetuate this flawed food production regime.

The Frog of War–When presented with evidence that your product is nasty and could mess up the ecosystems of the world the corporate overlords have two choices: attempt to remedy the solution through research or attack the person making science based evaluations.  Which one do you think the maker of these nasty chemicals chose?   One guess.

Sugar May be Bad, but is the Alternative Worse—If you thought that companies that make dangerous herbicides and pesticides fight dirty, wait until you see the fight that sugar and sweetener makers are going to put up as the pressure mounts on their products.  In the U.S. we eat too much sugar, we’re too fat, and we’re suffering from a crisis of diabetes but the sugar and sweetener makers will hear none of it.  Clowns.

You Can’t Eat an Uppercut—The Edible Education series on UC Berkeley’s YouTube channel is great.  I just finished watching one of the final lectures with Van Jones as a guest and it made me remember that at the core anger is only so good at accomplishing goals.  As he said so simply, you can’t eat an uppercut.  Just search on Edible Education and the lecture series will pop up.  It’s real good.

Lawn Reform—It’s not too early to think about spring and the landscaping that comes with the change in seasons.  The seed, bulb, and plant catalogs have started arriving.  Perhaps this is the year I really go gangbusters and replace a good chunk of my lawn with something better.