Tag Archives: scandal

Friday Linkage 4/26/2019

Steve King, the white supremacist representative from northwest Iowa, is not a man of faith.  He uses his so-called faith as a shield for his vile beliefs and his lack of a record in Congress.  He is not like Jesus Christ, but he will waste no time in making the comparison if he thinks it will help him get elected.

This is the same strain of “faith” that allows people like Michele Bachmann to claim that Donald Trump is “godly.”

It is the same strain of “faith” that allows hucksters like Jerry Falwell Jr. to claim that Donald Trump can do no wrong in his eyes.

It is not faith.  It is naked lust for power.

On to the links…

Interior Department Watchdog Opens Ethics Probe Into 6 Agency Officials—Repeat after me, “This is the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States.”

This GIF Captures Just How Gigantic the U.S. Carbon Footprint Is—It’s kind of alarming to see this play out.

There’s an Amazingly Simple, Beautiful Way to Fix Midwestern Farmlands—This is the most impactful potential change I have seen proposed and it makes so much sense.  For too long the modus operandi has been to encourage farmers, at their own economic risk, to plant as much acreage as possible. What if the solution is to maximize the efficiency of capital relative to planted acreage?

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—We know what we can do in the near term to accelerate the fight against climate change.  None of these actions require breakthroughs in technology.  It just requires political will.

7 Things We’ve Learned about Earth since the Last Earth Day—Knowledge is power.

How America’s ‘Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline’ is Destroying Forests—We are literally wiping our asses with boreal forest.  There is a better way.

Eco-Friendly Solid Could Replace Conventional Refrigerants—No one talks about the damage refrigerants can cause because we think we beat this beast in the 1990s with bans on certain CFCs.  Nope and in a world where air conditioning becomes more prevalent the damage will be greater.

Could Hawaii Be Paradise For Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit?—Hawaii is our energy laboratory.  The hydrogen economy never really got off the ground because it was just a better idea to feed renewable energy into the grid instead of converting it to hydrogen and dealing with the attendant losses.  However, what if you have too much renewable energy at certain times?  Now it makes sense to think about hydrogen as a chemical battery of sorts.

The Problem with Online Shopping—I think the article could have stopped at the “problem with online” and answered a lot of questions.  The most frightening passage in the article is this:

Consumption has reached an all-time high in the United States. In 2017, people spent $240 billion on random stuff like clothes, shoes, phones, books, and toys – double what was spent in 2002, despite the population growing by only 13 percent.

What the hell?

Why You Should Join the ‘Do Nothing’ Club—Maybe we should all aspire to be Peter Gibbons.

Back to Earth: Washington Set to Allow ‘Human Composting’—Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…yeah, this is the way I want my family to deal with my mortal remains in the end.

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Friday Linkage 3/1/2019

It might be March, but I think that the ground dwelling rodent we trust to predict near term weather patterns is a liar.  We are going to be shivering, mostly metaphorically, through single digits temps during the day that plunge to below zero degrees Fahrenheit overnight.

Add to this the cycle of freezing rain, ice, and snow that has blanketed eastern Iowa and you get a recipe for surly people.  Seriously, we are just done with winter in this part of the country.

On to the links…

The David Bernhardt Scandal Tracker—You would think it would easy to follow Ryan Zinke and not appear to be a corrupt swamp creature.  Whoops.  This is the Trump Administration so one corrupt politician will always be followed by another corrupt politician.  It’s the only people left who have the stomach to serve under the man.

Synthetic Fibers Found at Bottom of Mariana Trench—Our plastic pollution has reached the most remote places on Earth.

The Future is Rural: The Unexpected Consequence of Energy Descent—As energy becomes less dense and more diffuse—think distributed solar as opposed to giant coal plants—there will be a difficulty in maintaining our current urban paradigm.  The question is what level of urbanism can be supported.

You Can’t Take on Climate Change without Tackling Sprawl—Our built infrastructure encourages profligate energy use.

Twelve Empty Supertankers Reveal Truths About Today’s Oil Market—The global oil and refined petroleum products markets are extraordinarily complex.  However, a dozen empty supertankers roaming the oceans is a sign that something is broken.

Germany Ditches Fossil Fuels and Looks to Renewable Energy—2038 seems like a long way off, but I remember when Y2K seemed like the future.  What happens when the curve of retirements steepens as coal becomes even more uneconomic?  I can imagine a future where this deadline becomes 2035 or sooner.

New Study Suggests Buying These EVs Used Saves A Ton Of Money—The market is pushing these used electric vehicles to a fairly major level of depreciation over a short period of time meaning that a buyer can get a relatively lightly used EV for a fairly low price.  It’s what happened with my Nissan Leaf.

Heat your House with a Water Brake Windmill—I had never even heard of this technology.  Now I imagine that there is a case to be made for small scale water brake wind turbines providing thermal energy in colder climes.

‘Grandmother Effect’ Helps Explain Human Longevity—It takes a village, so to speak.

A Whale’s Afterlife—It amazes me how little we know about so many things.  When I was a kid there was a legend about the “elephants’ graveyard” somewhere in Africa.  The idea of that was so enticing to a young mind.

Four Troubling Ways Fast Food has Changed in 30 Years—Basically, there is a lot more fast food available and we eat a lot more fast food.  The consequences for our waistlines and planet are fairly predictable.

Friday Linkage 7/27/2018

I want to wake up and think that today is going to be a good day, but with the current state of affairs in American politics I wonder if that is ever possible anymore.

Do you remember a time when the talking heads on Fox News would bloviate about how Barack Obama wore a tan suit or put his feet up on the desk in his own office?  Yep, it happened.  Where is Sean Hannity’s outrage now that the current occupant is a thrice divorced serial philanderer who has paid off multiple women to keep the stories about their affairs quiet prior to an election?  Where is Sean Hannity’s outrage now that the head cheese puff is literally taking the side of a Russian dictator over the intelligence agencies of the United States?  Where is…oh, fuck it, we’re screwed.

On to the links…

POW Wants Skiers to Become Effective Climate Advocates—I am a member of Protect Our Winters because I fear that my generation will be the last to remember real winters where it got cold and snowed.  If we want our children to be able to play in the snow it is essential that we act in this time of national environmental disgrace.

The Teenagers Fighting for Climate Justice—As the right wing gets older, whiter, and closer to death these kids—now I sound old—are the future of our politics.  Republicans are going to have to reckon with multiple generations of people that they have screwed over for the benefit of the Baby Boomers.

Fossil Fuel Industries Outspend Clean Energy Advocates on Climate Lobbying by 10 to 1—Do you want to know why Exxon Mobil wins in Washington D.C. every time?  Dollars.

Accidentally-Released Documents Show Interior Agency Prioritized Industry Over Public Lands—Why did national monuments get shrunk by Donald Trump?  For the oil, gas, and mining industries to take advantage of our public lands.

Trump Administration to Stop Collecting Money from Companies that Damage Public Lands—Not only are these companies getting a sweetheart deal on leases on public land, but now they will not have to worry about paying for the cleanup.  This administration is officially worse than that of Warren G. Harding.

Most Americans support the Endangered Species Act—People like these environmental rules.  You know who does not like these rules?  Rich people who run companies that benefit other rich people.  You know who is going to win out on this issue?  The rich guys.  Always bet on the rich guys to win in Washington D.C.

This Is Why Lawmakers Want to Gut the Endangered Species Act—It is my contention that a lot of these interests see the intersection of this current Congress and Donald Trump as the last time in a generation when their policy prescriptions will find traction.  They are trying to get while the getting is good, so to speak.

Trump Wants to Weaken Coal Miner Protections as Black Lung Disease Makes a Comeback—Trump loves coal miners so much he wants to make it easier for them to get black lung, harder for them to get treatment for black lung, and probably wants coal miners to thank him for all of his “help.”

Scandals Pile Up For Interior Chief Ryan Zinke—Ryan Zinke is no Scott Pruitt, but he probably now holds the mantle for Trump’s most scandal plagued cabinet member.  Remember, this guy thinks he has a chance to become President of the United States in a few years.  Oh wait, given the current occupant I would not be surprised to hear that Paul Reubens thinks he has a shot as well.

Trump’s Plan to Revoke California’s Car Pollution Waiver makes a Mockery of Conservative Principles—Just stop at “Trump makes a mockery” and you will be fine most of the time.  Seriously, Republicans only care about states’ rights when it refers to abortion.  Everything else falls under the federal purview.  I do look forward to this court battle because it will place a lot of people at odd angles to each other.

The Billion Tree Project In Pakistan Is A Success—Given the current wildfire situation in the western U.S. I have to wonder if there is a place in our national discussion about a massive effort to reforest degraded landscapes.  Let’s see, it would bring jobs to rural areas and improve the environment.  It would provide long term benefits for important watersheds and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.  Yeah, it’s got no chance.

China Made Solar Panels Cheap. Now it’s Doing the Same for Electric Buses.—Do you remember when seeing a house or building with solar panels was rare?  Now, it is common.  Get ready for the same thing to be true with electric buses.

What Other States Can Learn from California’s Solar Mandate—I do not think we should worry about pushing small scale distributed rooftop solar onto residential roofs until every warehouse, big box store, and parking lot is covered in solar panels.  If you want to put panels on your house’s roof like me, make that choice, but the effort should be going into the big roofs first.

Climate Change May Cause 26,000 More U.S. Suicides by 2050—Well, isn’t that an uplifting headline.

How to Fight the Actual Source of Ocean Garbage (Which Isn’t Straws)—I bet if you asked one hundred people what the major source of ocean pollution is that not one of those one hundred would name abandoned fishing gear.  Demand change.

Microplastics Are Invisible, Scary, and Everywhere—The archaeological record of this late stage of our civilization will record us being the “plastic people.”  Someone or something will dig up our remains and wonder what our obsession was with plastic.

Disney to Eliminate Use of Plastic Straws by Mid-2019, Other Single Use Products to Follow Suit in the Coming Years—Straws are one thing, but the other single use plastics are the things that get me.  We need to eliminate disposable plastics across our consumption patterns.

What Does It Take to Make a Decent Paper Straw?—Now that more and more places are foregoing the plastic straw you are going to have to become used to what makes a good paper straw and what is just cheap, imported crap.

Friday Linkage 2/23/2018

If you ever needed any more evidence that the “blue collar billionaire” Donald Trump does not have the capacity for empathy bare witness:

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This is also the same country where the state legislature in a state where a mass shooting had just taken place declared pornography to be a greater threat to public health than guns.  Do not tell me that it is because guns are protected under the 2nd Amendment because pornography is protected under the 1st Amendment.

On to the links…

Trump’s Cabinet has been Rocked by a Number of Ethics Scandals — here’s a complete guide—When the accounting is done in a little less than three years—my god, is it really that far away—the administration of Donald J. Trump will be regarded as an epic orgy of corruption and debasing of American values the likes of which has not been seen since Warren G. Harding.

At the Department of the Interior, Industry Lobbyists and Revolving-Door Operatives Shape Sage Grouse Policy—Ryan Zinke literally believes that by selling out America’s public lands to oil and gas interests that he can ride that corruption into the White House.  Don’t believe me?  Check it out.

Dirtier than VW Dieselgate: EPA Expands Loophole for Rebuilt—If there is a loophole these people are going to crack it wide open and let the soot fly.  Dirty Donnie and his merry band of oil soaked cronies are the absolute worst.

It’s Been One Year of Amazing Scott Pruitt Accomplishments, All of Them Horrible—Scott Pruitt is your environmental nightmare.  It is like central casting sent out a request for the worst person to be the head of an environmental agency and got Scott Pruitt in return.

Trump Can’t Kill Renewable Energy—Trump and his corrupt band of miscreants will try, but they will fail because their beloved market will speak.

100% Renewable Electricity Worldwide Is A New Cost-Effective Reality—As more countries get an increasingly larger share of electricity from renewable sources we are forced to reevaluate what is possible in terms of both technical feasibility and cost effectiveness when it comes to renewable energy penetration.  That is a good thing because the figures get better all the time.

World’s First Floating Wind Farm Performing Better than Anticipated—Large scale floating wind farms are fairly new technology, so a lot of the predictions about actual performance are based on modeling and assumptions without good real world data.  Now that facilities are coming on line there is a growing data stream that shows good performance, ahead of some estimates, that will give us a better idea about the potential of this renewable energy source.

CSU gets ‘Overwhelming’ Response to Request for Renewable Energy Projects—Every time someone puts forth a call for proposals for renewable energy the response is huge.  Or is it yuge?  Either way, industry is really coming up to bat to deploy a lot of renewables.

Reedy Creek Improvement District Signs New Easement Deal for 50MW Solar Farm—We can all make fun of Walt Disney World for being the apogee of so many things wrong with America—excess in all its forms, artifice to the extreme—but at least the people behind the parks have not totally lost their sense of whimsy even when it comes to solar power.  I just love this existing solar farm:

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This Company may have Solved one of the Hardest Problems in Clean Energy—The hydrogen economy has always been the future that the fossil fuel interests tout as the bridge to the future.  Why?  Because it is not likely to happen, so they can look like they are making progress without actually doing anything substantive.  However, someone may have figured out how to do things economically.

Vast Bioenergy Plantations Could Stave Off Climate Change—and Radically Reshape the Planet—I fear that this is the future.  I can see a future where genetic engineering and bioenergy demand combine to radically alter what we consider the natural world.  Imagine gene edited poplar trees that grow at exceedingly rapid rates and seas of switchgrass replacing corn or soybeans.

Plastic Bans Worldwide will Dent Oil Demand Growth—It is not a lot of demand, but every little bit counts on the path to a fossil fuel free future.  Remember, oil refiners actually make a lot of their profits from the sale of non-transportation fuel by-products during the refining process.  Plastic feedstocks are a big part of this equation.

2022 Winter Olympics To Be Held On Mountains Where It Doesn’t Snow—Maybe it is time to be done with the Olympics?  The parent organization is only saved from being the most corrupt on the planet because FIFA exists, the most recent bidding has been marred by a lot of countries simply dropping out, and now we are going to hold a Winter Olympics on mountains where it does not snow because Beijing was the last city standing.

Friday Linkage 1/5/2018

It’s 2018 and it’s cold.  I am not just talking about the relationships in and out of the Trump White House either.

Since it is so cold across much of the United States I am waiting for James Inhofe to give one of his patented rants about how winter disproves any science about global warming or climate change.  It will happen as surely as taxes, ridiculous tweets by Trump, and bad midseason television shows.

On to the links…

Ryan Zinke Taps almost $40,000 from Wildfire Preparedness Fund to Pay for a Helicopter Trip—Scandal and corruption have a name.  That name is Ryan Zinke and he is the head of the Department of the Interior.  The government is nothing but a slush fund for these kleptocrats to live high on the hog while the Donald tweets his latest brain fart.

Vehicles are Now America’s Biggest CO2 Source but EPA is Tearing up Regulations—Reducing our use of fossil fuels for transportation is the single biggest challenge facing us in the coming years.  However, it is one the easiest things for individuals to reduce given our profligate use of personal automobiles for transportation.

Norway Reaches Carbon Emissions Goal From Transportation 3 Years Early, Thanks To Tesla—The solutions to reduce our transportation emissions exist.  It is a question of political will and money.  Norway did it.

100% — Chinese City’s Record-Smashing 16,359 Electric Bus Fleet—Shenzen went all EV for its bus fleet.  Imagine if the major U.S. cities made this kind of commitment?  It would mean a huge buildout in charging infrastructure and demand for EV busses that would drive down the cost for smaller fleets.  It’s a virtuous circle of EV awesomeness.

Finance Institutions Are Making a Massive Investment in Solar—Is this where the worm turns?  Once financial institutions choose renewables over fossil fuels it will be increasingly difficult for the legacy energy regime to finance expansion in any economical manner which will be a death knell for the future of those fuels.  We can hope.

The Dutch Plan to Build an Artificial Island to Support the World’s Largest Wind Farm—The Dutch are not fooling around when it comes to wind.  30 GW of wind power is a huge amount.  How huge?  30 GW roughly equates to 30,000 MW of capacity.  In real terms that represents more than 4 times the wind power installed in the state of Iowa.

New York to Procure 800 MW of Offshore Wind in Next Two Years—After seeing what the Dutch are doing this does not seem like much, but any progress is progress.

Trump Holds Geothermal Card Up His Sleeve When Pitching “Energy Dominance”—What role does geothermal energy play in the future energy mix?  Like hydro, geothermal tends to be a forgotten player despite its benefits of being near baseload power and having a lot of unexplored potential.  The fact that the Trump administration has the near future in its hands—however tiny—makes me very nervous.

Nuclear Agency Has The Hots For Solar Energy Windows—I have the hots for solar windows.  Imagine every multistory building with a glass façade generating electricity because it was covered in transparent solar glass.  That is the future, man.

Takeout Creates a Lot of Trash. It Doesn’t Have To.—Normally, I do not patronize takeout.  Choosing to dine in or eat homecooked meals is my modus operandi.  However, this past week I brought some takeout beignets from the Lost Cajun in Breckenridge to our friend’s condo.  I can attest to the waste of takeout.

Tom Brady Is Drowning In His Own Pseudoscience—Like Gwyneth Paltrow and Goop, Tom Brady and his junk science doctor are peddling some serious bullshit.  Here is my two cents: If someone is giving you health advice and also selling an item to further that same advice take the time to question the veracity of every claim.  This includes the health advice from your doctor.  And Tom Brady.  Especially Tom Brady.