Tag Archives: salmon

Friday Linkage 9/13/2019

On Friday the 13th I want to “pour one out” for a site that has gone dark.  Think Progress and its companion site Climate Progress were linked to frequently from my blog.  The reporting was always well done and backed up by copious well documented sources.  Editorial factionalism and a bitter unionization battle probably contributed to the demise of the site.  The same problems have plagued other “new media” operations as well over the years, but this is a lost nonetheless.

On to the links…

25 Books That Teach Kids To Care About The Environment—The children, they are the future right?  Well, we should be helping them to understand just how amazing, precious, and threatened this planet of our is in the modern age.

There’s a $218 Billion Design Problem Sitting in Your Fridge Right Now—You want to know the real reason why this will not change?  It’s the same reason that I cannot get parts for an appliance that is just a few years old or why a small part for a car costs hundreds of dollars.  The manufacturers of these products want to sell you a new product.

Why Industry is Going Green on the Quiet—This is a sign of the polarized times that we live in.  If a company can produce the same product using less destructive methods why does it need to be kept secret?  Probably because a reactionary slice of the population will react like their hair is on fire at the mere mention of environmental concern.

A Decade of Renewable Energy Investment, Led by Solar, Tops USD 2.5 Trillion—This gives you an idea about the potential scale of the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  If you want to create jobs in the United States you would support renewables at every juncture.  Imagine trillions of dollars more being spent to deploy solar and wind across the United States.

30 Million Acres of Public Land in Alaska at Risk of Being Developed or Transferred—Your public lands are being sold off by the most corrupt and criminal presidential administration in the history of the United States.

Trump Campaign is Cashing in on the Alabama ‘Sharpie’ Controversy he Keeps Complaining About—Every time I think we have reached the height of Trump’s unique combination of stupidity and hubris I am surprised by a new event.  Remember, Trump totally did not change that map.  Trump totally does not know who drew the limp circle showing Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s path.  However, you can totally “own the libs” by giving his slush fund…er, campaign $15 for a freaking Sharpie.  Get some Trump branded straws to complete you MAGA look for fall.

Department of Justice to investigate BMW, Ford, Honda and Volkswagen—Remember, the right wing is all about states’ rights as long as those states’ rights are about unlimited access to firearms, restricting access to health care, gutting social programs, and in general making the world safe for rich people.  God forbid a state, which has the precedent to set its own emissions standards, would contradict the federal government.

Hydrogen Could Replace Coke In Steelmaking & Lower Carbon Emissions Dramatically—Steel production, like concrete, is a carbon nightmare.  However, steel is essential to modern civilization so any decrease in its carbon intensity is a win for the planet.

Pulling CO2 Out of the Air and Using it Could be a Trillion-Dollar Business—It is doubtful with Moscow Mitch in power that we will ever see a price put on carbon emissions in the United States.  However, what if we could create a market that placed a value on carbon dioxide.

Renewable Energy At Risk In Rural Electric Cooperative Tax Snafu—The Republican tax debacle of 2017 is the gift that keeps on giving.  So to speak.  This piece of garbage legislation that was rushed through because no one actually wanted the details to be public is creating messes just about everywhere.  Wasn’t this the signature legislative accomplishment of so-called policy wonk Paul Ryan’s speakership?

How Much Photovoltaics (PV) Would be Needed to Power the World Sustainably?—I like the thought exercise, but this is not about a single technology.  Freedom from fossil fuels will come as a result of deploying a portfolio of renewable energy technologies combined with greater efficiency.  It is not rocket science.

50 Years Ago a Nuclear Bomb was Detonated under the Western Slope to Release Natural Gas. Here’s how Poorly it Went.—This was someone’s bright idea.  Heck, it was probably the idea of a group of fairly smart people.

It’s Time We Treat Some Forests Like Crops—Let’s just make sure that we do not treat trees like corn or soybeans.  Those crops have been a disaster for Americans.

Invasion of the ‘Frankenbees’: The Danger of Building a Better Bee—What could possible go wrong?  It’s not like scientists have been wrong about making drastic changes to our environment before.

Today’s Special: Grilled Salmon Laced With Plastic—Our love affair with plastic and our inability to deal with its waste is a great, unregulated public health experiment.

The Definitive Superfood Ranking—Can we just stop with the superfood nonsense?  Seriously, you can eat all the kale you want and you will still not be healthy.

Chicago’s New Tool Library Is Awesome, Exactly What It Sounds Like—I own a lot of tools—some bought and some acquired through family—but a lot of my tools just sit for extended periods of time.  This is true even though I use my tools a lot to build furniture and fix things.  For the average user my guess is that tools get used a couple of times at most.

mountainFLOW Launches Plant-Based Ski Wax—I want some.

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Friday Linkage 5/26/2017

Melania Trump may be my new hero.  Okay, maybe hero is a strong word but her refusal to even consent to contact with the flaccid cantaloupe masquerading as the President of the United States is something to behold:

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Damn girl.  What are you feeding the president?

On to the links…

Factory Farming Threatens Public Health—There it is.  The single most important headline I have read in the past few weeks.  No explanation needed.

The “License to Kill” Bill Is As Terrifying As It Sounds—Republicans are going about an orgy of legislation that is designed to make the world a better place for companies that do not mind injuring, sickening, or straight up killing you.  You are worth less than corporate profits in the eyes of Republicans.

Be Compassionate, But Never, Ever, Pity The American Male—After the election of Donald Trump, I still shudder just saying that, the press was filled with reports about how he was fueled by a disaffected group of white males.  Never has a group that has been given so much privilege, squandered so much potential, and been so angry about their own failings gotten so much attention for the fact.  Can we please stop the pity parade?

The Markets Frustrate OPEC’s Efforts to Push up Oil Prices—The market is kicking oil’s ass.  If it is not shale oil production, it’s demand.  If it is not demand, it is something else.

Shale Is Just a Scapegoat for Weaker Oil Prices—It’s the demand, baby.

`Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom—Why exactly are there any power plants still burning coal in this region?

North Sea Wind Power Hub: A Giant Wind Farm to Power all of North Europe—Imagine power for 80 million Europeans coming from offshore wind.  Wow.

We are the Bicycle Lobby. We are Coming for Your Parking.—The grumpy old men who want to park in acres of free parking after having driven to the parking lot at seventy miles an hour are just going to have to deal with people on bicycles.  They will bitch and they will moan, but they are the past and we are the future.

America’s Cars Are Suddenly Getting Faster and More Efficient—Cars are going faster but doing it using less gas.  If someone tells you that government regulation is stifling innovation they have not been paying attention when they fire up their car.

How a Remote California Tribe Set Out to Save its River and Stop a Suicide Epidemic—When we lose our connection to our past and to our land we lose a lot of what it means to be human.  In a world where forces are trying to privatize all land so that only the rich truly have access and the rest is polluted by industry we need to remember the value of the land in our identity.

Replacing Beef with Beans Would Dramatically Slash Greenhouse Gasses—Rather than put solar panels on our houses, commute by bicycle, or elect politicians who gave a damn the best thing you could do for the planet tomorrow would be to stop eating meat.  Eat beans, pulses, kale, tofu, whatever in place of meat.

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 4/25/2014

I think that I hate Earth Day. I do not hate the fact that for at least one day people might pay attention to the environment. I hate the fact that it is usually observed in the most superficial ways. Look, I recycled my plastic water bottle. Big whoop, you shouldn’t be using a single use water bottle in the first place. Ugh.

On to the links…

11 Wins For The Environment Since Last Year’s Earth Day—Too often we focus on the bad things going on in the environment or to the environment. Sometimes we need to reflect on the good things.

America’s Urban Future—It would seem odd to anyone who was awake during the 1980s that America’s future might be in its cities. Just the pop culture references alone elicit memories of failing cities, corrupt governments, and general decay. Now it is where the most dynamic communities exist. Interesting.

A Polluted Superfund Site Is Now Home To 36,000 Solar Panels—Every time that I see a solar project go up in a green field development I want to puke. There are so many brown fields and other sites that could be utilized. Just look out the window on a flight near any major airport and look at the expanses of roofs that could be covered in solar panels. Just look at the video of this landing at LAX. At about the 2:15 mark you really see a lot of roofs that would be perfect.

Solar Roadways Puts up a Parking Lot, Launches Indiegogo Campaign—I want this product on my driveway right now. Think about all of the driveways in the U.S. that could be utilized to produce power. Or parking lots.

Wanna’ Know What Happened to the Gulf Coast Since the BP Spill? Read this Blog—BP may have recently declared cleanup efforts complete, but residents of the region know that it is a much different story. The recovery will play out over decades.

Monsanto GM Soy Is Scarier Than You Think—Basically, GMO soybeans appear to be carrying more chemical residue and are less nutritious. Next.

Swim to Sea? These Salmon Are Catching a Lift—Persistent drought and the modification of river flows, e.g. dams, have led to the requirement for herculean efforts on the part of wildlife management authorities to get salmon to spawning grounds. Isn’t there a better long term solution?

Unsustainable Seafood: A New Crackdown on Illegal Fishing—Apparently, the amount of seafood caught in our oceans is vastly underreported as illegal catches are stripping the seas of fish.

How to Reinvent the School Lunch and Get Kids to Eat Better—I know that there is a lot of attention being focused on the delivery mechanisms and food choices, but I think the number one issue facing the prospect of better school lunches is time. My daughter, who is in kindergarten, gets less than 25 minutes to eat lunch. Who thinks that is a healthy habit?

5 Reasons Why Your Coffee Tastes Bad—Coffee can seem like such a simple beverage, but it is really a complex dance of innumerable variables.

Company Finds New Life for Old Car Batteries—If you have ever replaced a car battery in a car, you know the drill. You have to exchange the battery or pay a fee. Well, here is where batteries go to die in order to be reborn.

Friday Linkage 6/7/2013

Man, life gets in the way, I look up, and it’s already Friday morning.  I do not know if it is some new strain of the flu going around, but everyone I know is battling some brutal sickness right now.  It just knocks you out with a violent fever and your joints feel like someone is stabbing swords into you repeatedly “Red Wedding” style.

On the plus side, the weather has been wet and overcast for much of the week so no one really noticed spending the better part of a few days alternating between the couch and bed.  How wet?  Just look at the latest map of Iowa from the U.S. Drought Monitor:

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All of Iowa is almost out of drought conditions.  With the temperature staying low right now the conditions are ripe to keep the trend going.  Granted, we had flooding in eastern Iowa but beggars cannot be choosers.

On to the links…

Q&A with Paul Watson—It is amazing the lengths that the Japanese government will go to in order to preserve a barbaric practice like hunting whales.  Never mind that it was not really part of the Japanese culture until after World War II.  If anything, the focus on Paul Watson has created a martyr for the cause of anti-whaling.

How to Fix Climate Change in One Flowchart—Dig it:

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The Social Cost of Carbon is Double what was Previously Estimated—This is one of those boring, but important, stories.  Why?  When the CBO or other government agencies model the cost of things there is a table of accepted numbers that get used in the models.  That way everything is done on an “apples to apples” basis.  With the cost of carbon, generally considered an externality, doubled the models will now show that regulations are not cost negative.  It’s a pretty big deal around here.

An Inside Look at what a Coal Terminal is Really Like—If you want to talk about externalities, read this story about the reality of coal export terminals.  The pollution and environmental degradation is not paid for by the coal exporter.  It is a burden on the community.  Sad.

Huge Petroleum Coke Pile Headed Back to Canada—It looks like the Koch’s coke pile is heading back whence it came.  Okay, it’s really heading to another part of Canada but it is not going to be blighting the Detroit waterfront any longer.  It was amazing how fast this pile of black goo is going to disappear after some national attention was applied.  You have to wonder if the Koch’s thought they could just pile the stuff up on the waterfront in Detroit because…well, it’s Detroit.

Franken-salmon Could Breed with Trout to Produce Franken-trout—So, GM wheat makes an unannounced appearance in a field in Oregon and now we are considering GM salmon.  How bad could this be?  Oh right, catastrophic.

Endangered Kemps Ridley Sea Turtle Feeding Grounds Discovered in Gulf of Mexico—Here is how much we know about the natural world…not a bit.  We think that our knowledge allows us to have dominion, but every day we discover things that we did not know.  It’s not like the Gulf of Mexico is some remote artic body of water.

How Do We Save Coral Reefs, Stop Deforestation on Land—The environment is a complex ecosystem and we fail to understand that more often than not.  Reefs are not just a product of their local climate, but the broader ecosystem in general and this includes terrestrial components like forests that slow and filter water as it runs toward the ocean.

Battling Deforestation One Firm at a Time—It’s a long slog to try and change the behavior of a company.  Especially when that company is relatively aloof to international pressure like Asian Pulp and Paper.  But, it looks like the efforts are not in vain.

Why a Chinese Owned Smithfield Foods could Clean Up U.S. Pork—It’s a strange thought, but as the always excellent Tom Philpott points out China does not, officially, allow the use of clenbuterol.  Don’t remember what clenbuterol is?  It’s the stuff that some guys in the Tour de France have been nailed for doping with.  It’s bad stuff.

WalMart’s Low Prices and Big Profits have a High Cost—I do not think this will come as a surprise to anyone with half a brain and five minutes to spend reading the news.  Nonetheless, it’s ammunition in the fight against subsidizing such a crappy company:

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New Jersey Approves $500 Million Solar Program—This is not California or, even, Minnesota but New Jersey.  When New Jersey is jumping on the solar bandwagon you know things are beginning to happen.  I really like how the effort is spread across a few different fronts.  It will allow for an “after action” assessment to see what was most effective.

Solar Brings Reliable Energy to Haitian Hospital—I love seeing solar used in developing countries to counteract the dominant paradigm of a centralized power grid.  If one thing has held back development for many it is the lack to reliable and affordable electricity.  Without it vaccines cannot be stored, food spoils quickly, communication is sporadic, etc.

World’s Biggest Coal Company is Turning to Solar Industry—When even coal companies in India are turning to solar you know the “worm has turned.”

You Must Read—Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

It is one thing to carry around the wallet sized guide from the Monterrey Bay Aquarium or consult the smart phone app when making a seafood purchase—by all means do these things every time you purchase seafood of any kind—but it is another thing entirely to think about the nature of fish.

In general, fish is still a wild food.  It is, according to Paul Greenberg in Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, the last wild food commonly eaten.  Sorry, foragers, but what you do is on such a small scale that it can hardly even be considered niche.

Through the lens of four fish (salmon, sea bass, tuna, and cod) Greenburg pontificates on a lot more than simply the past, future, and current state of our relationship with fish.  It is a thought exercise on the entirety of the modern food system where we have selected the winners and losers through domestication, breeding, and consumption.

Although the farming of fish is becoming increasingly common—salmon being the one fish in this book that has become a staple of the aquaculture industry—our relationship with fish mirrors our relationship with the oceans and, by extension, our relationship with the commons.  There is no law on the high seas and, therefore, the bounty of the sea is available for the taking.  Much like the common piece of grazing land central to Garret Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons each fish taken out of the sea benefits the individual fisherman but degrades the entirety of the system.  Like the common complaint about Wall Street and the modern financial system following the problems in 2008: they have privatized the gains and socialized the losses.

The hope is that through a multiplicity of factors—consumer choice, government action, scientific revolution—we can achieve a future in which the bounty of the oceans is not plundered to feed the world’s population.  However, the current plight of the Bluefin tuna shows that market forces are a very strong motivator regardless of the condition of the species.  If someone in Japan is willing to pay north of $100k for a single fish then there are going to be fisherman on the high seas looking to land one of these amazing creatures.  If you think that it is different than a desperate soul willing to swallow bags of heroin to be smuggled into a country you are wrong.

I share the author’s hope for a brighter future for our system of seafood.  Awareness is one tool.  I believe that we have seen some movement toward consumers making wiser choices in supermarkets and restaurants with regard to the fish that they eat.  There are entrepreneurs seeking alternatives—barramundi and Kona Kampachi—that can reproduce the desired qualities of wild fish in eco-friendly aquaculture systems.

I just hope that some of these changes can come about in a short enough time frame to truly help save our oceans.