Tag Archives: shopping

Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:

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The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

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.

Friday Linkage 11/23/2012

Well, it’s Black Friday.  Are you avoiding the insanity of America’s unofficial holiday devoted to shopping?  I know I am.

Talking Turkey with Michael Pollan—Michael Pollan may be one of the most “overexposed” members of the modern food movement, but what he says is usually insightful.  On a day when most people are out hoarding consumer goods and stuffing their mouths with nasty fast food it’s a nice reminder of some other avenues.

Film Documents Americans Who Reap an Amazing Harvest from Waste—It’s Black Friday, but it’s also the perfect time to think about just how much stuff we waste in the United States.  The documentary “Spoils” shows this waste in Technicolor.  Dig it.

Ten Reasons a Carbon Tax is Trickier than You Think—A carbon tax, in my honest opinion, is a non-starter in the U.S. because taxes have become a dirty word in politics.  Never mind that we currently use the tax system to discourage certain behaviors and promote others already.

Why Hundreds More U.S. Coal Plants are Ripe for Retirement—Maybe some real progress can be made in the coming years to shut down some of these behemoths.  Granted, the replacement capacity will probably come from natural gas generation due to the death of the wind production tax credit.  That is unless Republicans get their heads out of their own asses and do something…oh wait, the leadership is still comprised of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell.

India’s Solar Revolution: Why Small is Big—I have seen a lot of stories and analysis that point to India as an emerging lab for solar technologies that are distributed because India’s grid is creaky, unreliable, and run by corrupt companies.  In essence, the hope is that India can leapfrog the centralized grid entirely for large swaths of its undeveloped countryside.

Feed Your Passion for Fixing Stuff with Sugru—I do not know if I would actually use this stuff or how it even works, but I am intrigued.  I might just have to buy some for my toolbox.

Where Will the Money Go from the BP Settlement—Besides to the lawyers.

Let Go of the Weedkiller and Learn to Love Weeding—Weeding never seemed like much of a chore to me.  You get the spend time outdoors in a generally low key way.  When you are done there is a bucket of material for the compost bin and the garden beds look nice.  Where is the problem here?

Utah State Goes Ahead with Wireless EV Charging—Damn, if you do not think that this is cool…well, I don’t know what is cool.  It finally seems like we are getting some momentum on having a portfolio of options for transportation power other than unleaded or diesel.

Innovative Projects Show the Promise of Geothermal—This really gets to the idea of finding the highest returns possible for an investment in technology.  Sure, slapping photovoltaic panels on a roof seems like the best way to deploy capital but there are a host of other technologies that might save more money and reduce impact more.

The Extraordinary Effort to Save Sockeye Salmon—This is a really fascinating look into the entire regime dedicated to preserving the salmon species in the northwest U.S.  Maybe the solution of returning our rivers to their more natural state is a better deployment of capital.  Just saying.

What Black Friday Means to Me

This year Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season that falls after Thanksgiving, is getting a lot of attention for the fact that it is no longer confined to Friday.  Rather, it has crept into the evening of Thanksgiving and, therefore, the employees of these retailers are forced to forego an evening spent with family.

Workers and concerned citizens, e.g. referred to as guests by retailers or shoppers by the rest of humanity, have started petitions asking for the encroachment into the Thanksgiving holiday to cease.   We already shop too much in the United States, so what’s the problem with spending some time away from the retail scene?

At least WalMart’s employees are using the attention afforded to retailers on Black Friday to potentially disrupt the narrative about consumerism and turn it towards the plight of workers.

For me, however, Black Friday means something else entirely.  It’s the beginning of my traditional siesta from shopping.  From now until after the New Year I will spend little or no time shopping for gifts or what not.  Why?  Because the status quo is insane.

I remember when holiday shopping was fun.  Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I loved the mall at Christmas time.  The decorations, the bizarre Santa Claus throne, the music…it was wonderful.  Sometime during college, probably during my stint working at a big box electronics retailer that shall remain nameless, I noticed the craziness of the holidays.  I remember watching people almost furiously filling carts with shrink wrapped items as if it were preparation for an upcoming superstorm.  It really turned me off of the holidays.

As the years have passed, opting out of the shopping hysteria just became second nature.  My wife and I have not exchanged gifts during the holidays, which conveniently also take place during the time when both of our birthdays fall on the calendar, for over a decade.  For our children, I take the holiday season as an opportunity to spend a good deal of time in the woodshop to build them a gift.  Last year it was a play table.  This year it is going to be a pair of bookcases that look like castles.

It just seems like a better way.