Tag Archives: soot

Friday Linkage 9/14/2018

It’s been seventeen years since the attacks of September 11th.  It is amazing to believe that the students entering college this fall have no personal living memory of that day when it is so indelibly scarred on so many of our consciences.  Time marches on without regard to our humanity.

It is also amazing to think about the path we chose to follow as a country in the aftermath of September 11th.  The administration of George W. Bush, which seems like a gauzy dream during these days of Trump, got us into two wars from which we are not out of seventeen years later.  All for a total cost of more than $1.5 trillion and counting.

What could we have done with $1.5 trillion in the United States?  Remember, this money is gone and what it bought is used up, blown up, stolen, or just plain abandoned in the desert.  In essence, we have gotten nothing for our blood and treasure.

On to the links…

The Most Ambitious Climate Plan In History—In the coming years the battle lines will be drawn over a carbon tax.  All the other mechanisms, carrot and/or stick, will be shelved in favor of a simple carbon tax.  As they say on sports talk radio, book it.

U.S. Budget Deficit Widens to Fifth-Highest Ever, CBO Reports—Any time a Republican says “Tax cuts pay for themselves” please ask them for evidence to back up that claim that does not come from the Heritage Foundation.  It is not that the United States does not have enough money for a progressive agenda, it’s that America is being looted by the right wing for corporate interests.

Trump Administration Rushes To Lease Federal Lands—These bastards know that they are living on borrowed time, so they better get while the getting is good.  Teapot Dome scandal will have nothing on these grifters when the final accounting is complete.

The E.P.A.’s Review of Mercury Rules Could Remake Its Methods for Valuing Human Life and Health—In Trump’s America your life is worth less than a coal baron’s ability to make a lot of money.  There is no other reason to change this rule except to mollify the retrograde coal companies that are one of the last groups to actually like Donald Trump.

Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air—Oh wait, oil and gas bros also still like Donald Trump because his administration is doing yeoman’s work for them.

Scott Pruitt in Talks with Coal Company for his Next Job—Nothing says looking out for Americans’ interests quite like taking a job with the type of company you favored over the aforementioned Americans’ interests not three months after leaving office in a cloud of scandal.  Maybe they offered him a Trump mattress and some of that special lotion as a signing bonus?

Cover the U.S. In 89 Percent Trees, or Go Solar—Why not do both?  I love trees and I love solar.  Until every south and west facing roof is covered in solar panels we have not done enough.

California Commits To 100 Percent Clean Energy By 2045—It’s big and it’s bold.  Is it possible?  I don’t know, but watching California lead the pack will be interesting.  I would love to see Iowa go 100% wind powered and beat everyone to the punch.

For States That Have Already Met Their Renewable Energy Goals, A New Question: Now What?—If you do not think local and state elections matter then consider this possibility: states that have met their RPS could just stay put and do nothing more going into the future if there is no push from local constituencies.  Or, these same states could do more.  Your call.

Sony Vows to Use 100 Percent Renewable Electricity by 2040—If your state won’t commit to renewables maybe your favorite company can.  Heck, some of these companies have a carbon footprint of small countries.

How Solar Power Saved $6.7 Million on a Tuesday—It got really hot in the Northeast U.S.  However, solar power pushed peak demand pricing to later in the day when things cooled down by providing up to 20% of the electricity on the grid.  What did coal do for you today?

Coal-Dependent Utility Fights Efforts to Reveal Whether Power Plants are Cost-Efficient—These are the boring but important stories to watch.  State utility boards are the definition of boring government business.  That being said, these same utility boards hold hearings that can eviscerate the economic basis for continuing to use coal.

Largest Offshore Wind Farm Opens off England’s Coast—I have to imagine that offshore wind is a Republican nightmare.  It is wind power, so they hate it.  However, it is offshore so any protest about appearance or the environment would also argue against offshore oil and gas drilling.  What is someone bought and paid for by Exxon cash to do?

Coal-Killing Energy Storage Grows By 200% In US—The last thing coal has going for it is that it is baseload power.  It can be counted on to deliver power when it is scheduled to deliver power.  However, the intermittency of renewables can be mitigated with some measure of storage.

Fossil Fuel Demand Set To Peak In The 2020s—It should be our mission in life to see that this peak happens sooner than forecast and that demand declines at a precipitous rate thereafter.

Large Trucks are Biggest Culprits of Near-Road Air Pollution—This is just one of the many reasons why electrification of transportation should focus on commercial trucks and busses first.

By 2040, Most of the World Won’t Have Enough Water to Meet Demand Year-Round—If you do not things are going to get turbulent and violent in the coming decades just wait until the taps run dry in many parts of the world.  Do you still want to be watering a lawn in Utah?

How to Eat Well – and Save the Planet—Most of these ideas are not rocket science.  Eat less meat.  Avoid high fructose corn syrup.  It it’s processed, leave it on the shelf at the store.  And so on…

Fundraisers for Sick Restaurant Employees Represent the Failure of American Health Care—The other battle line in America, in addition to a carbon tax, is with regard to health care.  The right wing does not care that you cannot get health care.  The right wing wants you to get sick and die, but only after spending all of your assets to obtain some measure of care.  They want you to die with a single red cent left to your name.

More Older Americans Are Turning To Marijuana—If you have any doubts about the future of marijuana legalization in the United States imagine what the situation will be like when AARP and baby boomers get behind the trend?  Federal legalization is a fait accompli.

Airbus SeaWing Kite Sails To Cut Fuel Costs For Cargo Ships 20%Haven’t we seen this idea before?

Friday Linkage 6/14/2013

The weather and what not is getting crazy.  Forest fires in Colorado turn out to be the most destructive in history every year.  First it was Waldo Canyon last year and this year we get the Black Forest fire.  In the Midwest we saw a 200 mile plus long storm front roll through this week that spawned tornadoes and the ever popular straight line winds.

For anyone who is a climate change denier, look outside and ask yourself what is going on.

On to the links…

Farm Subsidies Leading to More Water Use—Here is what is messed up about our farm policy in the United States…the programs in place often have the opposite effect of the desired outcome.  It’s amazing how messed up these things can get.

Regulatory Nominee Vows to Speed Up Energy Reviews—This just ticks me off because the White House could be making forward progress without Congress, yet is failing to take action because of some political calculus.  Ugh!

The U.S. Added 723 Megawatts of Solar during the 1st Quarter of 2013—On top of the good news, the U.S. is expected to add a total of 5.3 GW of solar capacity over the course of 2013.  That is enough to power almost 1 million average American homes with carbon free power.  Also, a 5.3 GW increase would be more than a 50% increase in the installed solar capacity in the U.S.  Damn!

Tea Party Takes On Georgia Power Over Lack Of Solar Energy—Just absorb the delicious irony of that title for a moment.  Tea Party…solar…Georgia…yep, solar power is the real deal when the Tea Party in the south is supporting its adoption.  Watch out king coal!

Master Limited Partnerships will Bring More Investment to Clean Energy—  Master Limited Partnerships (MLPS) are one of those boring, but very important, financing tools used by fossil fuel companies to acquire the capital to build out projects.  Congress is working on a bill that would expand the ability to use the tool to renewable energy.

What’s Needed to Get Sustainable Energy for All—Here is what it would take to move the entire world to a more sustainable energy future:


How Big Soda is Losing the Battle for American Hearts and Bellies—If there is one thing that you can do to improve your health—assuming you do not smoke—it would be to eliminate soda—regular or diet—from your daily routine.  The stuff is just bad news.  Maybe the tide is turning in the war against the corn syrup horde.

Cod Stocks Recover after Years of Overfishing—It seems like the news from restricted fisheries is that stocks will return if left alone for long enough.  This is probably little comfort to the people who depend on the cod stocks off North America, which have yet to recover from recent collapses, but it provides hope.

Cheap Food is a Thing of the Past—If there is one thing that will destabilize the world as climate change worsens it will be empty bellies.  Deny people their daily bread and riots ensue.

The Cool Factor (With Feathers): New York Chefs React To Pastured Poultry—  We are what we eat and we are what are animals eat.  We are also what our animals lives are like before they are slaughtered for dinner.

Edible Landscape Transforms Minnesota Lawn—Edible landscaping is awesome and expanses of green grass are tyranny.  I love the look of this garden.  It’s organic, in the organizational sense, and folksy.  I would want one if my front yard were more than a small pizza slice shaped chunk of lawn.

Climbing and Cloning Sequoias—This is an interesting idea.  Find the world’s largest trees, clone them, and distribute the clones to create groves of super trees.  I doubt that it can have a measurable impact on the carbon in the atmosphere, but it is better than giving up.

Watts For Lunch? (Or Why Humans Are Like Light Bulbs)—All you need to be a human for an average day is the power to light up one 120 watt incandescent light bulb.  Interesting.

Tiny Aerosol Particles, Big Impacts—Black carbon, or soot, is a nasty aerosol particle that traps a ton of heat in the atmosphere.  Like 650 times more than carbon dioxide alone.

Glamorous Killers Expand their Range—Cougars are making a comeback.  The animals are increasingly being seen in suburban habitats.  I am guessing that this will become more of a problem like bears in the Front Range.

Friday Linkage 1/18/2013

Friday turns into Saturday and all of a sudden it’s Sunday afternoon before you realize that you have failed to post the links.  Whoops.  Sorry about that.

On to the links…

In Rural Minnesota, a 70 Acre Lab for Sustainable Living–How many places like this exist throughout the United States?  Places where people are putting to the test all of the ideas and theories about how we can live in modernity without placing ever greater strain on the planet.

Will 2013 Continue 7 Year Trend of Decreasing Driving–Lost in the noise lately has been the continued trend of Americans driving less.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the graph:


Not only are Americans driving less, but if you listen to the car people at any auto show or in any trade rag and the primary concern is the waning love affair with the automobile.  Maybe there is hope for us yet.

Animals versus Automobiles–As someone who grew up in southeastern Minnesota, I was intimately familiar with the intersection of animals and automobiles.  Most notably, deer were a common hindrance to continued forward progress on the roads.  Wait a second, it’s an infographic:


Clean Energy Investment Fell 11% as Government Cut Subsidies–Okay, so for anyone who does not believe the production tax credit is vital to the continued growth of domestic renewable energy witness this story.  I take back that statement about their being hope for us yet.

Solar Could Meet all the World’s Electricity Needs by 2050 with 1% of Land–It will never happen, but can you imagine a world where we replaced all fossil fuel electricity generation with distributed solar?  Yeah, I cannot imagine that world either because it seems so wonderful.

Why the Government Should Pay Farmers to Plant Cover Crops–As if we did not know our domestic farm policy was crap, there seem to be so many sensible, low cost ideas out there to make things better that it seems even more stupid when you really think about things for a moment.  I suppose if the government promoted cover crops then Monsanto and company would sell a few bags less of GMo seeds.  Now I get the problem.

Beijing’s Air is so Bad…–This is just a story that begs for a series of jokes patterned on the old “Your mama is so” meme from the 1990s.  Oh yeah, I referenced the 1990s like it was sooooo long ago.  First, what the heck is in the air?  The Guardian took a stab at it:

Climate desk Beijing air pollution

Or, you could go the NPR route and wonder what it looks like from space

Black Carbon Larger Cause of Climate Change than Previosuly Thought–We do not know what we do not know until we really spend time researching the problem.  It’s too bad that scientists have to spend countless hours defending their work on climate science because a small percentage of people–hack scientists and quack politicians–have “doubts” about the integrity of their work.  How come no one every gets to question a Republican politician’s integrity when it comes to positions that they take on issues?  Like, what is their agenda exactly?

Sweet Sodas and Soft Drinks May Raise Your Risk for Depression–Basically, soda and soft drinks are just bad stuff.  There is no place in our diet for such beverages.  Just put down that one gallon soda from the corner conveinence store and grab a bottle of water.  Make sure it is not water in a disposable container.  Okay?


Friday Linkage 12/21/2012

I have spent a lot of time “offline” the past week.  Part of it is related to the events in Newtown, Connecticut.  I just wanted to spend a little extra more time with my two children because I could not imagine the horror of having either of them taken from this world in such a savage way.

Also, it was a snow day on Thursday.  Iowa and the rest of the upper Midwest got walloped on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  Here in Cedar Rapids we got anywhere from 6 to 9 inches of snow and had winds that blew in excess of 50 miles per hour.  Pretty much a textbook blizzard.

Everything slows down on a snow day because no one goes out.  Life really turns inward toward the household.  Snow days are most excellent.

On to the links…

EPA Goes After Dangerous Soot Pollution–This is one of those “boring but very important” type of stories.  Soot is dangerous on so many levels and the EPA is taking steps to clamp down on the emission of soot.  Good deal all the way around.

Cleaning up Carbon Pollution 101–This is a good run down of the facts surrounding the issue of carbon pollution.  Read it and be informed for the next time you have to argue about carbon pollution with your libertarian Uncle Walt who lives in Phoenix.

Exploring a Proposed Carbon Diet for American Power Plants–The Natural Resources Defense Council has come up with a proposal for reducing carbon based power generation in the United States that focuses on all aspects of the chain.  It’s pretty fascinating stuff for people who read up on this kind of thing.

To Save the Oceans, Should We Zone Them?–I do not know if this would really do any good because individuals, corporations, and countries are not know for being sticklers when it comes to rules.

Detect Drafty Windows with Your Smartphone–Does anyone ever sit back and marvel at just how freaking cool our smartphones really are?  These things are like something out of Star Trek but better somehow. 

Small is Big, Bangladesh Installs One Million Solar Home Systems–I am excited by the potential of the developing world to leapfrog the centralized and heavily carbon based electrical generating systems that dominate in the West.  Here is just another story about the power of distributed generation.

Plans for Giant 1.2GW Wind Farm Submitted–Not that big energy projects cannot be fascinating or get us closer to a carbon free future.  The East Anglia Offshore Wind (EAOW) will provide 1.2 gigawatts (imagine Doc Brown saying it) or the equivalent of about 770,000 annual electricity consumption.

Feds Scrap Dumb Idea of Relocating Otters–Who thought this was a good or plausible idea in the first place?  Why would an animal suddenly decide to stay in a place where it was unfamiliar?  Because some agent from the state fish and wildlife service packed it in a crate?  Sure.

Imagine There’s No Fracking–It’s easy if you try.  Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono recently ran the following ad in the New York Times:


Friday Linkage 8/17/2012

It’s Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, so I thought some shark themed links were in order…

This infographic from the Discovery Channel is a nice primer on the status of sharks today.

What Would Happen if Sharks Disappeared?—Sometimes you have to think about the worst case scenario to get people thinking about making some kind of positive change today.  We have a hard time understanding the role of apex predators in the environment.

In Cancun, Trying to Protect Reef with Underwater Statues—I do not know if this is more about promoting tourism or protecting a reef, but the underwater statue park sure is interesting:

Superfund Efforts to Clean up Waterways Come with Risk—I love how companies are allowed to pollute for the better part of a century and then make the claim that it is better to leave the pollution alone.  Sorry Charlie, but we need to remediate these problems.  It is your responsibility.

Paul Ryan’s Budget is Nice to Big Oil—Imagine that, Republican wunderkind Paul Ryan, the presumptive Republican candidate for vice president, has a budget that is very nice to oil and gas interests.  Call me shocked…oh wait, not really.

Soot Pollution 101—Soot pollution is one of those insidious environmental problems that is hard to talk to people about, yet it impacts everyone in various ways.  All of them negative.  Get educated and make a difference.

50 Year Decline in Some Los Angeles Vehicle Pollutants—The next time some right wing proto-fascist tells you that government regulation is shackling the United States take the time to point out that the government regulation of tailpipe pollutants is a major cause for celebration.  The air is cleaner and people are healthier because the government required car and fuel makers to clean things up.  End of story.

Efficiency is Powering Job Growth in Automotive Manufacturing—Vehicles are getting increasingly fuel efficient and not always at the cost of size, so people are not forced to compromise when making choices.  These same people are buying new, more fuel efficient vehicles that replace older, less fuel efficient vehicles that are raising the average fuel economy of the fleet.  There are some victories out there.

U.S. Using Less Gas than Anytime Since 2007—How much of a victory?  Oh yeah:

The U.S. consumption of gas peaked in 2007—just prior to the 2008 mega recession—and has not recovered, so to speak.  Sometimes I feel like I am screaming at the rain and at other times I feel like dancing.  Break out the dub step.

We Must Put a Price on Nature in Order to Save It—I have seen this argument made in the past and I do not know if I agree with it.  Do we need to put a price on something to save it or can something have a value so great that it cannot be monetized?  If we monetize nature, do we destroy its inherent opposition to a cold, industrial world?

How a Texas Town got Water Smart—San Antonio is water smart and with most of the country in the throes of drought we would be wise to consider learning as many lessons as possible.  Often, it is not about reducing our use of water, but reducing our waste of water.  There is a small and critical difference when making that argument for change.

Bears Break into Cabin and Drink All the Beer—Who can blame some bears for seeing a fridge full of beer and wanting to enjoy themselves?