Tag Archives: Science Daily

Friday Linkage 5/22/2015

May has been wicked cold. This week the temperatures got down into the mid-30s, which is a record in some places, and people are running around to cover plants with blankets. I am just hoping all of my vegetable starts survived.

On to the links…

105,000 Gallons of Oil may have Spilled in Santa Barbara County—When oil companies talk about pipelines in your community, be it Bakken pipelines or Keystone XL or something else, the truth of the matter is that pipelines fail and foul the environment. Why? Because the companies are driven by profit over everything else including health and safety.

This Billionaire Tried To Get University Scientists Fired For Doing Their Job—Remember, if the truth is not on your side just use your filthy lucre to try and silence critics.

Did China’s CO2 Emissions Actually Just Fall?—I am hesitant to believe any news that comes out of China. However, this news comes from Greenpeace, surely no friend of China, and there are caveats about the short term nature of the numbers but if it held true the drop would represent the entirety of the U.K.’s CO2 emissions.

12,300 Megawatts of Coal Power will Shut Down in the US in 2015, Lots More to Come—The march of progress is on. Every coal plant that shuts down is another nail in the coffin of the dirty fuel. Soon, we will reach a point where the industry no longer has a critical mass to operate efficiently and will enter an inexorable death spiral.

Renewable Energy Land Requirements To Power US With Solar—As you listen to the people behind oil sands, mountaintop removal, and fracking talk about the land requirements for renewables show them this:

Land-art-AreaRequired1000

Australia Could Reach 100% Renewables By 2040—Now that we know it is possible by 2040, what would it take to make it happen by 2030?

Puffy, Feathered Sticking Point of a $612 Billion House Bill—With control of both houses of Congress, Republicans have set their eyes on rolling back years of environmental progress. If you do not think the 2016 election is important you are not paying attention.

Tiny Plastic Microbeads Are Being Banned In States Across The Country For ‘Causing Mega-Problems’—Finally, the exfoliation of our faces will take a back seat to the quality of our water.

Whole Foods Calls the Shots for Startups—This article is supposed to be about Whole Foods, but I kept thinking that they were talking about WalMart. Seriously, the tactics sound eerily similar.

The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food?—I think the answer is that food can be hard. In our own house we try and reduce food waste. It really forces you to look into the dark recesses of the refrigerator…okay, who am I kidding? These are total first world problems. Stop wasting so much god damned food.

Peat Moss, a Necessary Bane—Peat moss is a pretty amazing family of plants. Sure, the ecosystem is a little depressing to look at and the plants tend to take over the landscape when possible but look at the benefits.

The Decline of the British Front Garden—It’s a bloody shame that television “makeover” shows have led people to replace little front gardens with paved parking areas. Seriously, do we really need more parking for cars?

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Friday Linkage 4/10/2015

Do you ever have those weeks at work where you look up and it’s Friday morning? The problem with those weeks is a lot of time is spent not actually doing you “day” job, but instead focused on some parallel project. Whoever told me that mergers and acquisitions was an exciting field of work during b-school was not telling the whole truth.

On to the links…

California’s Worst Drought in 1,200 Years in Pictures—I have not been to California since the current drought cycle began, so it is shocking to see these pictures. Remember, this is a mega-drought cycle that could last decades.

Barclays Ends Financing of Controversial Mountaintop Removal Mining—In 2013, Barclays was the biggest financier of mountaintop removal mining in the world. Imagine you worked in an industry where the single biggest source of private capital ceased operation. Ouch.

U.S. Power Sector In 2015: More Renewable Energy, Less Carbon Emissions—The price of a portfolio of renewables is low enough that it competes on its merits against fossil fuels. One of those merits is that once installed renewables do not require constant refueling. Sure, oil is at a low price right now but who believes that will be true in five years?

How to Maximize Renewable Energy Options for New Mexico—Renewables is all about location. In Iowa, it makes more sense to deploy wind power because of our wind energy infrastructure and constant wind speeds. In the American southwest the portfolio looks quite different. Even between Arizona and New Mexico the portfolio may look different.

Rethinking the Grid: Personal Power Stations in Your Garage—In some ways, traditional utilities are pushing this model to the forefront by adjusting their pricing schemes to harm solar power producers at a rooftop scale. What happens when more and more customers disembark from the grid?

Spain Got 47 Percent Of Its Electricity From Renewables In March—Granted, Spain’s economy is still in the proverbial toilet but including nuclear the country got approximately 70% of its power from non-carbon sources. Amazing.

Indian State Plans 25 GW of Solar, Gets 40GW—Rajasthan blew past its solar target of 25GW in the next few weeks as businesses have signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) for over 40GW of solar. Imagine exceeding your targets by 60%. Wow.

Detailed Projections of Coral Bleaching—Coral bleaching, which is equivalent to a coral reef dying, will impact different reef ecosystems at different rates and spreads. It is still a damn shame that it is happening at all.

Scientists Have Found A New Way To Save The World’s Coral Reefs, And It’s Pretty Fishy—Coral reefs are an ecosystem. We have forgotten the impact that fish have on this ecosystem as fishing and aquarium collection have devastated fish populations.

Microbeads: Solving a Big Problem of Little Bits—Plastic microbeads should be outlawed. It’s pollution that we can only control at the source.

Friday Linkage 11/14/2014

You want to talk about winter? It arrived with a bang this week. Near sixty degrees and pleasant on Monday and it plunged into the teens with a nice brisk wind by Wednesday. Now it’s Friday and people are consigned to have the parkas out until spring. At least Ullr was nice and dropped fresh powder in Breckenridge.

On to the links…

SeaWorld Earnings PLUMMET As Outrage Over Orca Treatment Grows—SeaWorld is hurting. The documentary Blackfish is killing them in the public sphere and people are voting with their feet by not coming to the park in numbers. So much so that the company had to admit as much in its earnings release. Keep up the pressure folks. It’s working.

Voters In 19 States Just Committed More Than $13 Billion For Conservation—The mid-term election was a disaster from some perspectives, but ballot initiatives in 19 states set aside some serious money for land conservation.

Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path—Be wary of geo-engineering and the promise of being able to continue in a business as usual mode with regard to our changing the climate. Sounds like snake oil to me.

Fossil Fuels Reap $550 Billion in Subsidies, Hindering Renewables Investment—Do you want to know why there are not solar panels on everyone’s house in the world? Because fossil fuels suck up billions of dollars in subsidies every year. Remember, these are the most profitable companies in the history of humankind.

How the World Uses Coal – Interactive—Coal is not dead, but it is down. Maybe with a few more knockdowns we can call it a TKO.

France Breaks Ground on Europe’s Largest Solar Plant—Some people get excited to see fields of sunflowers or bluebells. I get excited to see rows and rows of solar panels. 300MW of solar PV is a lot of rows.

Wind Power Generated 126% of Scotland’s Household Energy Needs Last Month—Granted, it was windy and demand was not particularly high but over 100% of power anywhere from renewables is a good thing.

UK Approves 750-Megawatt Offshore Wind Project—This is some serious offshore wind. Just imagine if the U.S. developed some of the offshore wind capacity in the eastern part of the country?

Here Comes the Sun: America’s Solar Boom, in Charts—Just check out how big the solar revolution is going to be in the near future.

40% Renewable Energy Integration No Trouble For Midwest—Iowa is probably going to be the test bed for this theory as the percentage of our power generated from wind is quickly approaching the 40% mark with proposed projects coming on-line.

New Bounty of Oysters in Maryland, but There Is a Snag—As we look to intensively use more and more spaces, particularly arable land and coastlines, there are bound to be conflicts that arise. Can’t we all just get along?

U.S.D.A. Approves Modified Potato. Next Up: French Fry Fans.—Do we really need a GMO potato so that people can eat more fast food French fries? Just asking.

The Biggest Lies About Science in the U.S. Government’s “Wastebook”—Conservatives love to publish little missives about waste and corruption by stretching the truth and acting like clowns. Here are some classics from a recent example. Remember, these are the people who preface every statement about science with “I’m not a scientist…”

Cash for Grass Changing the Landscape in California Drought—Why anyone would have a green lawn west of say Omaha is beyond me. Heck, I live in a place where do not need to water our lawn and I want to get rid of even more grass.

Saving the Last Wild Bison—Bison are amazing animals. A truly American animal that we should celebrate much more so than the stupid cow.

Gunnison Sage Grouse gets Federal Protection to Prevent Extinction—A lot of policy watchers anticipate this issue to be as contentious as the spotted owl decision in the 20th century. Instead of logging, a declining industry at the time of the spotted owl controversy, this impacts oil and gas. Get ready.

Friday Linkage 8/15/2014

Moving to a new job is interesting. I have not had a job change in six years, so it kind of feels like a milestone but it is odd at the same time. Who knows what next week will bring?

On to the links…

Sales of Shark Fin in China Drop by up to 70%–I hope that international pressure and the realization that the soup really tastes like warm snot is starting to make people reconsider this outdated practice. Again, it could be just some spin from China’s PR machine.

China Will Install More Solar This Year Than The U.S. Ever Has—Is solar taking off? Well, here is one little stat to make you think about the volume of deployed solar. Remember, solar PV destroys demand.

Stacked Solar Cells could make Solar Power Cheaper than Natural Gas—Even cheaper solar power would be sweet. It’s already cost competitive, but if it were cheaper that makes the adoption curve go crazy.

Wind Farm Powering A Million Homes Nears Approval Deep In Coal Country—Considering that Wyoming is coal country this is a big deal.   3,000 megawatts of power would put this single wind farm on par with all but a few states total wind generation capacity. Damn.

Carbon Dioxide ‘Sponge’ could Ease Transition to Cleaner Energy—Here is the thing that climate deniers and opponents of the new EPA regulations forget, their vaunted market will come up with cost effective solutions because the demand is present.

When Did Republicans Start Hating the Environment?—When did Republicans start hating everything? Seriously, what does the party stand for as opposed to what it stands against? It’s a party devoid of big ideas.

20 Big Profitable US Companies Paid No Taxes—As you read this list, remember that Republicans want corporations to pay even lower taxes. The thing that kills me is that if corporations are people why don’t they pay taxes like people?

Absurd Creature of the Week: This Goofy Fish Poops Out White-Sand Beaches—A parrotfish is an amazing thing to watch when you are snorkeling. You can watch little puffs of white sand come out from their rear ends. Cool and gross at the same time.

Judge Refuses To Throw Out Challenge To Utah’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law—This is important and should be followed by anyone with an interest in activism and free speech. If “ag gag” laws are allowed to stand there will be a chilling effect on speech and it will encourage industry to promote even more restrictions on our rights.

America Now Has Over 3,000 Craft Breweries—and That’s Not Necessarily Great for Beer Drinkers—The beer aisle is crazy now. How many IPAs and amber ales and bocks and sour ales and whatever else can a beer drinker choose from effectively? As I read more and more articles I believe a shakeout in the industry is coming.

Fermenting Beer Time Lapse Shows one Beautiful Breathing Sludge Monster— These open fermentation tanks are crazy mad scientist stuff:

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Friday Linkage 8/1/2014

August. Damn. Where did June and July go? It sure does not feel like the “dog days” with night time temperatures in the 50s, which I am digging because I have not had my AC on in weeks. It also makes me very anxious for football to start. Yes, I am that breed of American male that really looks forward to the football season. ‘Murrica!

On to the links…

Brewers Association Reports 18% Production Growth for U.S. Craft Brewers in First Half—Let’s start with some good news. Craft beer is kicking ass:

Brewers-Association-Mid-2014-Craft-Volume

10 Reasons to be Hopeful that We will Overcome Climate Change—Maybe, just maybe, there is hope that we can figure out a way to combat the coming climate change in a way that is not akin to sticking out head in the sand. I am cautiously hopeful as I see the deployment of renewables, the retirement of coal power plants, and the increasing efficiency of automobiles. It might not be enough, but it is a start.

Delaying Climate Policies Could Cost U.S. Economy $150 Billion Each Year, Report Shows—The big bugaboo with climate skeptics and outright deniers is that the cost of doing something is super high. What is the cost of doing nothing and seeing what happens? Really freakin’ high.

How to Power California with Wind, Water and Sun—People act like it is a fantasy that we could deploy renewable energy in such a way that could power entire states or countries. Blueprints exist people!

Danish Wind Power to Be Half The Price of Coal and Natural Gas by 2016—Go Denmark!

As U.S. gets Greener, it is Sending Dirty Coal Abroad—So, we now are exporting our dirty fuel instead of keeping it in the ground. Ugh.

Midwestern Waters Are Full of Bee-Killing Pesticides—We have laced the environment with a toxic legacy that will take a long time to figure out. Why can’t we just stop using these chemicals that are obviously so dangerous?

Feds Consider Ban On Bluefin Tuna Fishing As Population Dips 95 Percent—Our voracious appetite for this amazing fish is going to cause the species to go extinct. Stop eating Bluefin tuna people!

Farming The Bluefin Tuna, Tiger Of The Ocean, Is Not Without A Price—I applaud these efforts because it might mean the survival of the species in the wild, but we need to question the wisdom of raising such a voracious predator for wide consumption. Maybe we are the problem.

Be a Patriot, Eat Less Beef—Cows are horrible for the environment, especially when raised in feedlot conditions, and too much red meat is bad for our health. We just need to eat less meat, beef or otherwise.

Produce from School Gardens Increasingly Ends up in School Cafeterias—It’s so cool to see programs where kids grow vegetables for consumption on premise. Too many people do not understand how food is grown or raised. Ask them where a tomato comes from and you will get told, “the grocery store.”

Heard on the Street: E-I-E-I-O—If New York City can adapt and adopt backyard agriculture, well any place can probably do it. Although I am thinking that New Yorkers will somehow find a way to claim that they came up with the idea of urban agriculture first, that they do it better than anyone else, and that you are stupid for thinking otherwise.

Your Giant American Refrigerator Is Making You Fat And Poor—Refrigerators in the U.S. are huge and a lot of people have more than one and a deep freeze in the garage. What the hell are we doing with so much space? Take a minute and really look at all the old food in your refrigerator. It’s probably disgusting.

Friday Linkage 7/11/2014

It’s off to Colorado for a week of being out of touch, visiting some new breweries, and generally trying to recharge to ol’ batteries. Thus, I will be out of pocket and not posting for more than a week but I should have some good stuff to share come the end of the month like a rundown of some really good beers made in Minnesota that I picked up during my trip over the fourth of July and whatever I end up discovering in the Centennial State.

On to the links…

Investment In Clean Energy At Highest Point Since 2012—Just some plain ol’ good news.

The Emerging Clean Energy Edge—Carl Pope, the former director of the Sierra Club, has a succinct piece on why clean energy has reached the tipping point where it can displace traditional fossil fuels without the need for subsidies. Dig it.

Renewable Energy Provided One-Third Of Germany’s Power In The First Half Of 2014—Don’t believe it is possible to see large scale usage and integration of renewables? Witness Germany getting one third of its power from renewables for an entire half of a year. Not a day. Not a holiday. Rather, an entire half year. Pretty impressive.

‘Singlet Fission’ can Increase Solar Cell Efficiency by as much as 30 Percent—I do not understand the science behind the breakthrough, but anything that can increase the efficiency of solar PV is a good thing.

Taking Oil Industry Cue, Environmentalists Drew Emissions Blueprint—I love that people are surprised by the environmental movement taking cues from the oil and gas lobby. Really? Those companies have been wildly successful in shaping public policy for the better part of a century. It’s about damn time.

Nine Iowa Counties see Million-Gallon Crude Oil Trains—My neck of the woods is not on the list, but these rolling firebombs waiting to happen are rumbling through a good portion of the state. It feels a little too close to home.

To Improve Accuracy, BBC Tells Its Reporters To Stop Giving Air Time To Climate Deniers—Finally, a news corporation takes a stand on giving climate deniers equal time. Why do people who are outnumbered at least 99 to 1 if not 999 to 1 get anywhere close to equal time on the air? Besides Fox News, the BBC’s practice should be standard for every other news outlet. Who cares what Rush says about your bias because he is a blowhard bought and paid for by the extreme right.

This Train Could Power A Fleet Of Electric Buses—Trying to wring out every last wasted kilowatt of electricity is a surer climate change mitigation strategy than any expansion of renewables in terms of immediate return on investment. Innovative solutions like this are going to be part of the future plan.

Californians Keep Up With Joneses’ Water Use—This is depressing. California is facing epic drought and its citizens are doing little if anything to conserve water on a personal level. Who needs a freakin’ green lawn in California? No one.

Protecting Parrotfish on the Path to a Caribbean Reef Revival—Reefs are complete ecosystems, so we need to ensure the vitality of all the creatures that inhabit them. The decline of parrotfish means that algae and other organisms colonize the coral and outcompete more traditional reef inhabitants.

Interior Commits to Bison Restoration, but Offers few Specifics—The North American bison is an amazing creature and its restoration from near extinction is also equally amazing. What is needed, as the Poppers postulate in their Buffalo Commons idea, is a wide scale reintroduction into the landscape of the American west that has been long dominated by cattle.

What Type of Environmentalist are You?—This little quiz made the rounds of the internet during this week. It’s a fun little diversion.

More And More Companies Are Buying Their Way Overseas To Get Lower Taxes—Do you want to know why we have a revenue problem in the U.S.? It’s because corporations keep making more money and keep paying less in taxes. ‘Nuff said.

Friday Linkage 7/4/2014

For several days it has been nothing but chain saws, chipper shredders, and other power tools ringing out as people clean up from the nasty storm on Monday. The derecho left a pretty nasty wake of landscape destruction. If there was one good thing that came out of the storm it was that one of my trees I was going to have to stake to straighten is now leaning the right way. I will take what I can get given the general destruction.

On to the links…

Not Eating Meat Can Cut Your Food-Related Carbon Emissions Almost In Half—There is nothing new with regards to this study finding except that it draws some attention to the fact that our appetite for meat is destructive. If you had to make one lifestyle change tomorrow that would benefit the planet it should be stopping the consumption of meat.

China’s Hurdle to Fast Action on Climate Change—No matter what we do in the U.S., if developing countries like China and India do not act on climate change goals then the efforts we make will be too little, too late.

The Secret to Richer, Carbon-Capturing Soil? Treat Your Microbes Well—The world of microbes, regardless of the location, are an amazing wealth of scientific discovery right now. The impacts of these discoveries is impacting our health and our planet.

California Ranchers Tackle the Climate Crisis One Pasture at a Time—Meat can be part of our food system if it is raised in a way that benefits the planet. So, animals should be allowed to live on wide open pastures that are maintained as opposed to living in CAFOs. Simple.

Shrimp’s New Path to the Plate—It’s amazing how much shrimp we eat in the U.S. If we expect to keep eating shrimp it is going to have to come from farms raising captive stock.

A New Wind Turbine Generates Back The Energy It Takes To Build It In Just 6 Months—A bugaboo of the right is the claim that a wind turbine never produces more energy than it takes to manufacture. Guess what? That is wrong.

How Energy Efficiency Is Hitting It Big With The High Tech Industry—Applying the principals of data mining and analysis to efficient efforts can only yield better results in terms of reducing energy usage per dollar expended.

Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?—In the U.S. there is an unspoken agreement in polite society that poverty is not something to be discussed. However, the growing inequity in our society is making it necessary to have a conversation about why some people get so much and so many get so little.

Natural Resources Worth More than$40 Trillion Must be Accounted For—Do you know why companies that drill, mine, and burn fossil fuels are able to make so much money? It’s because they do not have to account for the externalities like damage to the natural resources of the world. If you can put a price on something, you can make lasting change.

Creeping Up on Unsuspecting Shores: The Great Lakes, in a Welcome Turnaround—The Great Lakes are an amazing asset in the United States and Canada. So much freshwater is locked up in these bodies of water that it is criminal we do not manage them better. The news the past couple of years has been pretty bad, but here is a little good news. Yay!

Ocean’s Nasty Plastic Garbage is Disappearing: What’s Going On?—Our understanding of the oceans is so poor. We pour trash and chemicals into the waters without a single thought to the health of the oceans. And we are surprised that we do not know what is going on? Wow, we are dumber than I thought.

After the Trees Disappear—The impacts from the emerald ash borer are going to be far reaching and permanent. Many of our forested landscapes will look considerably different once the ash trees are gone.

Drug Lord’s Rogue Hippos Taking over Colombia—Okay, the title is a little hyperbolic but the story is interesting anyway. It looks like one of Pablo Escobar’s legacies is going to be an invasive population of hippos. Strange.