Tag Archives: science

Friday Linkage 3/10/2017

There will be no Friday Linkage next week since I will be in Colorado enjoying all that Beaver Creek has to offer a low-rent skier like myself.

On to the links…

Iowa Sees Second Warmest February in 145 Years—Nothing to see here, right?

These Photos Show How the EPA Transformed America—Now that the fox is in charge of the hen house it is important to remember what America was like before the EPA and other agencies focused on cleaning our air and water.  No one wants to bring disco back and no one wants to bring 1960s style pollution back either.

Scientists Are Standing Up to Trump Because They’ve Always Stood Up to Bullshit—The right wing loves people to be active in politics as long as they agree with their narrow world view and, generally, assume positions that are free from a factual basis.  “But, Jesus said so in the Bible!”  Scientists and scholars are duty bound to resist this shit.

Yet Another Energy Company Bails On Canadian Tar Sands Oil — Is Koch Next?—Tar sands are too expensive to extract under the current market conditions, too dirty for most people to accept as a fuel source, and stuck in Canada.  So why exactly are people in the fossil fuel industry and the White House so hell bent on the Keystone XL pipeline?

California Just Hit an Incredible Solar Power Milestone—It was for just a moment, but California was producing some serious solar power in the middle of the day.

Colorado’s Solar Power Capacity Jumped 70 Percent in 2016—The best part for me is that even though Colorado added 70% more capacity its relative ranking compared to other states feel because it did not add enough capacity.  When you add 70% more capacity in one year and lose ground you know that something is happening that is going to be hard to stop.

Solar Now Cheapest Electricity Option On Average In 58 Emerging Economies—The new guard of electricity is here and it is based on the sun.  These countries have no incentive to build out a fossil fuel based grid because they have no capital investment tied to legacy systems.

Chinese Coal Draw-Down Gathers Pace—China is always the savior of some down-on-its-luck industry.  Guess what?  China does not want our coal anymore.

Coder Creates Ultimate Tesla Model S + Home Solar Data Visualization Tool—I cannot create the fuel for my truck at home, but I could create the fuel for a Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt at home.  The future seems to be happening right now.

America’s Television Graveyards—When the apocalypse comes in the next couple of years I imagine people will roam the shattered United States and happen upon one of these warehouses full of old CRTs.  It will be a gigantic metaphor for how we got into this mess.

General Mills Boosts Eco-Friendly Grain Kernza—What if we could replace a portion of destructive annual wheat production with perennial Kernza?  What is wide strips of Kernza were planted along streams to slow runoff and deter erosion?  Imagine the potential.

Climate Ecoforestry—Let’s look to restorative ecology to rebuild our planet’s lost resilience.

This Man is Cloning Old-Growth Redwoods and Planting them in Safe Places—Imagine efforts like this replicated on a larger, dare I say nationally mobilized scale, and imagine what we could achieve in a short period of time.  This requires no new technology or process.  It would simply require political will and capital.

You’re Using Recipes Wrong—I have this complaint with cookbooks and recipes because I feel like I am buying bespoke ingredients only to repeat effort time and time again.  Ugh.  An efficient kitchen in terms of time and money should be one of my 2017 goals.

Friday Linkage 12/26/2014

As you read this I will be on the road driving to Colorado. Skiing and good times with old friends await in the mountains. It just requires over thirteen hours in the car to make it happen. First world problems.

On to the links…

Prosthetic Hand Crafted on 3-D Printer may Open Doors for Denver Girl—This a hell of a story. Instead of printing questionable firearms or another miniature for tabletop rpgs, Clay Guillory made a prosthetic for a 9 year old girl with a partially formed hand. Maybe the world is a pretty good place after all.

This Is the Stupidest Anti-Science Bullshit of 2014—When someone builds a Mount Rushmore of jackasses, James Inhofe will have to be placed front and center. How someone like this has any influence over science policy in the United States is beyond the pale.

A Green Dilemma for the Holidays: Better to Shop Online or In-Store?—This is the paper or plastic debate of the 21st century. Just buy less stuff and buy what you can locally. There is the answer that no one wants to hear.

200,000 Miles In A Chevy Volt With No Problems—The thing to remember about the Chevy Volt is that the car is just the first generation. In terms of reliability and efficiency the car seems to be fulfilling the promise. It will be interesting to see if the second generation can deliver more at a better price point.

750 MW Solar Power Plant In India, Likely To Be Largest Solar Power Plant In World, Gets World Bank Financing Commitment—Instead of just financing huge dams or other questionable projects, the World Bank is getting into the solar game.

Wind & Solar = 77% Of New US Electricity Generating Capacity In November—Dig it. The renewables revolution is here. Every watt that can displace a fossil fuel watt is demand destruction.

You Must Read—The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines

The climate scientists have to be right 100 percent of the time, or their 0.01 percent error becomes Glaciergate, and they are frauds. By contrast, the deniers only have to be right 0.01 percent of the time for their narrative. [Page 223]

9780231152549Last week I suggest that you read Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, which was a stunning longitudinal look at the history of contrarian “science” and denial in the U.S. on a range of topics. If you really want to understand the mechanism behind the current crop of climate denial you need to read Michael E. Mann’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.

Michael E. Mann is a climatologist and member of the faculty at Pennsylvania State University. He holds a PhD in geology and geophysics. This is not the sort of person you think would be the subject of severe character defamation and the target of a coordinated public relations campaign to discredit his work.

However, in 1999 Mann—along with Raymond S. Bradley and Malcom K. Hughes—published a paper consisting of a reconstruction of climate going back approximately 1,000 years. The model, entitled MBH99 for the authors and the year in which it was published, would become famous as the “hockey stick.” The model showed a relatively stable climate, in terms of temperature volatility, for most of the time period with the recent history showing a market increase in upward volatility. Hence the hockey stick.

Somehow this model became the bete noir of the climate change denial movement—most of which was outlined extremely well in Merchants of Doubt. Michael E. Mann’s personal account shows the degree to which the attacks on this particular component of the climate debate were founded on bad science, funded by fossil fuels, and perpetuated by a modern media machine that craves controversy to feed its twenty four hour programming schedule.

The destruction of climate denier “science” is a nice read, but it hardly matters to people who will literally claim to not believe anything because of Jesus or some such shit. Don’t believe me? Check out Pastor Matthew Hagee. These are the type of people you are trying to convince that mankind has altered the physical conditions of the planet.

Even worse are the elected officials like Joe Barton and James Inhofe, who clearly do not understand the science at its most basic level, conducting hearings where they praise the work of hacks. Worse still is that these politicians use their offices like truncheons to bully those who do not fall into line. Other authors have pointed out that these tactics are strikingly similar to what took place in the Soviet Union when official science, no matter how unsubstantiated, ran up against contrarian viewpoints. Rather than let the scientific process work its natural course the contrarians were silenced. Ironically, the consensus scientific point here is that climate change is real, but the contrarian viewpoint, which is clearly false, is being given more air time than even the most insane alien abduction theory should be afforded.

If you want to understand the dynamics behind our country’s inability to address climate change read The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. You will be amazed that Congress can even get its act together enough to agree on when to take a vacation. Oh wait, they always seem able to agree on that fact.

BTW, Michael E. Mann is not to be confused with Michael Mann, the director of such films as Heat and Last of the Mohicans. I half expected Joe Barton to castigate Michael E. Mann for portraying the tobacco companies as evil doers in The Insider.

Friday Linkage 9/7/2012

Back from vacation and I am ready to go…okay not so much.  Thankfully, it was a short week due to Labor Day and with direct flights home from Denver I no longer had to endure the drive across Nebraska.  It’s a lovely state, but no one needs to experience over 450 miles of I-80.  Ever.

On to the links…

New Zealand Grants Personhood to a River—Well, I guess if a corporation can have the rights of a person, why can’t a river.  I am sure Mitt “Corporations are people too my friend” Romney would find a way to disagree because he is a corporate shill robot.

Why Have We Fallen out of Love with Organic Food—It seems like the press is loving to sound the death knell for organic food because some studies have shown it is not healthier for you.  The goal of organic food, however, was to produce food in a system that was healthier for the consumer, the producer, and the planet.  It’s about more than just the nutrients in the end product.

Why do We Hold Renewables to a Different Standard—I am sure this has something to do with the fact that a large swath of our political space is essentially owned by the fossil fuel industry, but it seems silly.  Considering the amazing amount of externalities that would negatively impact fossil fuels if accurately priced into the products, why do we offer any subsidies?  Oh wait, these companies own politicians.  My bad.

How Americans are Subsidizing Pro Sports—It’s amazing when multi-millionaire or even billionaire sports team owners cry poverty and hold the gun of leaving against the heads of cities and states.  It makes me glad that Iowa does not have a major pro sports team located in state.

Oil Washing up on Coast after Hurricane Isaac—Speaking of externalities, it looks like the oil that spewed from the wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon did not just magically disappear.  It just took a hurricane to stir things up on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico and…presto…tar balls!

Renewable Gasoline, Diesel Right Around the Corner—I know we have heard this story before with biofuels, but there appears to be some real progress away from the first generation fuels, e.g. ethanol, toward better second generation biofuels that do not fall prey to the food versus fuel debate.

Who’s Afraid of Solar PV—This is a great look at the impact of solar photovoltaic on the energy situation in Australia.  Check out the charts and see what distributed solar is doing to the demand seen at power stations during peak load periods.  Amazing.

Destroying Precious Land for Gas—When will we stop destroying every piece of land in pursuit of fossil fuels?  Hopefully it will be someday soon.

Liberia has Sold One Quarter of its Land to Logging Companies—At least the oil and gas companies do not own one quarter of the land in the U.S.  It is unfathomable the degree to which private multinational corporations have been buying up huge chunks of Africa over the past decade.

Copenhagen Bicycle Culture—Here is Copenhagen’s bicycle culture in an infographic:

More and More Baby Boomers going Vegetarian—I have seen my father, right at the beginning of the baby boom, become a vegan in his sixties.  Usually when I talk about the baby boomers it is negative.

It’s not Just Young People Giving up Ownerhship—Are we turning the corner on our obsession to own everything?  It’s one thing when hipsters choose not to own.  But when middle class suburbanites pull the trigger you know there is some serious momentum.  Bring the car sharing to Cedar Rapids baby!

Blue Zones Offer Lessons in Longevity—So-called Blue Zones, where people tend to live longer and healthier lives, are getting a lot of play recently.  The concepts behind why these people live longer and healthier seem so simple when presented as fact.

And remember: