Tag Archives: subsidies

Friday Linkage 6/16/2017

What will the mass shooting in Alexandria, VA this week lead to?  My guess is that Republicans will push for less stringent gun laws—although it is hard to see how much less stringent our non-existent gun laws could become—and a crackdown on political speech that is counter to their aims.  Do not believe me?  In the first few moments after the shooter was identified there were Republican operatives calling for the rhetoric regarding Donald Trump and his policies to be toned down.

WTF?  This is the single person responsible for more coarseness in our political discourse over the last eighteen months than anyone else and we are supposed to suddenly simmer down because of a completely unrelated incident?  Can’t stop, won’t quit.

On to the links…

These Five Charts Show the Seismic Shifts Happening in Global Energy—If there is anything that you can do to accelerate any of these trends do it.  Do it today.

In Trump Country, Renewable Energy Is Thriving—I live in “Trump country” as much as it pains me to say it and I still cringe every time I see someone sporting a bumper sticker, shirt, or freaking red hat.  However, renewable energy is a very big deal in this red state and it is a similar story in a lot of other red states.

When You’ve Lost Iowa: Wind-Loving Heartland State Says “Buh-Bye, Coal”—What allegiance to coal does a state like Iowa have?  We do not mine or produce any coal, so every dollar we spend on coal for power is a dollar that is leaving our state.  On the other hand we have a lot of wind and those dollars can stay home.

Coal Can’t Compete on its Own—Remove the subsidies and preferential policies makes coal an even bigger loser than it already is in today’s marketplace.  Now, supposed free market Republicans will never actually allow the free market to work when it comes to their beloved fossil fuels.

This is How Big Oil will Die—Imagine I could replace an essential machine in your house with over 2000 moving parts and filled with flammable or toxic fluids.  Imagine that the replacement machine would have 20 moving parts and no flammable or toxic liquids.  Oh, and it is cheaper to operate on a per mile basis.

Renewables Provide More than Half UK Electricity for First Time—So, during mid-day renewables were knocking out over 50% of the U.K.’s electricity needs.  Who says that we cannot deploy more wind and solar?

Three Nations Plan 500% Increase in Global Offshore Wind—That is a big increase.  Once the basic technologies are even more mature and cost effective the adoption rates will soar.  What would happen if the people working in offshore oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico were deployed to develop offshore wind?

A Quarter Of EU’s Electricity Demand Could Be Met By Offshore Wind At €54/MWh—The future may be out to sea.

Chevrolet Bolt Will Hit Remaining Dealer Lots in August—It’s going to be available nationwide a month or so earlier than forecast.  Here is to hoping that sales follow availability.

Resistance to Last-Ditch Antibiotic has Spread Farther than Anticipated—This health crisis is happening because we demand cheap meat.  There is no other reason to feed farm animals huge amounts of antibiotics which breeds antibiotic resistant bacteria.  We are literally staring into the precipice of going back to the dark ages in terms of fighting infections.

Trump Wants to Cut EPA’s Scientific Research in Half—Of course the ignorant buffoon wants to cut research staff.  These are people who spend their careers trying to actually discover answers to hard questions rather than watching Fox News constantly.

In Praise of ‘Scruffy Hospitality’—We just need to put the smartphones away and stop posting everything to Instagram or Facebook.  We need to get back to enjoying the analog moments of life.

Friday Linkage 4/14/2017

Presidents, by the very nature of being one who seeks the presidency, are creatures with massive egos.  However, the current president—who was the loser in terms of the popular vote lest we forget our recent history—has to be one of the most egocentric human beings to ever inhabit the office.  If you take a moment to listen to his interviews or read his tweets, which may lead to a little bit of vomit coming into your mouth, you see someone driven by the need to be the center of everything.  Humility is not something that this man brings to the office.  Ugh…how many more days of this do we have?

Oh right, it’s only 3 years 9 months and 7 days until the next president takes office.  But who is counting?

On to the links…

The Latest Test for the White House? Pulling off its Easter Egg Roll—Not even capable of pulling off the annual Easter Egg Roll.  Sad.

Land Transfer Advocates Steer their Focus to Monuments—This issue demands constant vigilance by advocates of public lands, which thankfully has allied some strange bedfellows in hunters, watermen, skiers, hikers, etc. over the past few months.  Nonetheless, clowns like Orrin Hatch and Jason Chaffetz—seriously, is there something in Utah’s water—are going to push the boundaries until they appease their masters.

EPA Ending Program to Prepare for Climate Change—Scott Pruitt will go down in history as one of the villains of the Anthropocene.  When the history is written by our children and grandchildren he will be remembered as a corporate shill more interested in lining the pockets of his Koch-backed overlords than preserving the environment for the people of the United States.

The De-Electrification of the U.S. Economy—I would not go quite as far as the author suggests, but there are promising trends in the decoupling of electricity consumption and economic activity.

More Subsidies than You Think Influence the Cost of Electricity—Our electricity generation and distribution system is a mess.  Subsidies are one reason why because the price we pay—assuming we even know what the price is per kilowatt hour—is distorted by a plethora of subsidies.

California’s Rising Solar Generation Coincides With Negative Wholesale Electricity Prices—Check out these two charts:

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Distributed solar is huge—or is it yuge?—in California.

Washington State’s New 8 Megawatt-Hour Flow Battery is the Largest of its Kind—A big problem with renewables is variability and alignment with demand.  Take solar.  It’s production peaks right before the big demand peak from people coming home from work.  It’s the so-called duck curve.  Flow batteries are promising as a technology to deploy grid level energy storage for managing this mismatch.

Kentucky Coal Mining Museum Installs Solar—It’s not April Fool’s Day.  It’s just reality.

Appalachia’s New Trail: Finding Life after Coal—Appalachia, which is an odd way to define a fairly diverse region, has struggled economically since its settlement.  It is not conducive to industry and it has been used a pawn in politics for almost as long as there have been political parties in the U.S.  It’s residents have been abused by corporations claiming to act in their interests and governments forget about the region except every four years.

When Solar Panels Became Job Killers—China’s policies have created an economic situation where the price of solar panels has been driven artificially low.  This has led to a lot of non-Chinese companies being unable to compete with cheap Chinese solar panels.

SolarCity Will Begin Accepting SolarRoof Orders This Month—I really want some of these on my roof.

Making American Hydropower Great Again—Nobody is suggesting building new dams, but retrofitting older dams with new technology could lead to an increase in the available hydropower in the United States.  Hydro is clean, base load power that we need to help even out the differences between peak production and peak demand.

The Best Way to Restore Environments in the Face of Climate Change—Restoration ecology is going to be a major theme of the next few decades as we look to repair the damage that we have caused.  Best practices need to be figured out and shared as broadly as possible.

Rising Salt Levels Threaten Twin Cities Lakes by 2050—There is so much salt runoff from winter road salt that urban lakes will likely by devoid of fish because of rising salinity within our lifetimes.  As if we have not screwed up the planet enough.

New Sharing Depot Opening Reflects Success of Toronto’s Library of Things Movement—I want this to be the future.  Do I really need to own half or more of the tools I use once or twice year?  No.  Why does every house in a suburban neighborhood own their own lawn mower that gets used for an hour or so each weekend?  What a waste.  Sharing is caring, folks.

Friday Linkage 9/25/2015

The rides the past couple of weeks have been perfect. Just perfect. The temps are in the 70s to low 80s, the winds have not been too bad, and the crowds are gone. Especially on Saturdays when people are busy tailgating and watching college football, I have the trails and gravel all to myself. Unheard of in July.

On to the links…

Ban on Microbeads Offers Best Chance to Protect Oceans, Aquatic Species—The U.S. needs to enact a nationwide ban on plastic microbeads. Exfoliation is not worth the health of the oceans.

How Strict California Rules on Emissions led to Lower Cancer Risk—Regulation works. Plain and simple. Without emissions reductions California would still be blanketed in a horrible stew of smog and death.

Taxpayers Lose Billions to Coal Subsidies—Stories like this cannot get enough press. As taxpayers we pay billions to coal companies in order for them foul our air, dirty the water, and generally behave badly.

Balls of DNA Could Fix Geothermal Energy’s Biggest Problem—Geothermal is a great renewable energy resource because it is dependable enough to be considered “base load” like coal, natural gas, or nuclear. Unlike hydropower, the other base load renewable, large dams are not required and drought will not impact production. It looks like one of the thorniest problems may now be solved as well.

Obama Sets Up Cost Of US Solar Energy For Another Freefall—Fundamental research is being paid for that will drive down the entire system cost for solar. Remember when solar panels were only something you saw in Mother Earth News or on the lot of some burnt out hippie? Yeah, it’s mainstream now and will be more so in a few years.

Beyond Sprawl: A New Vision of The Solar Suburbs of the Future—We have a lot of development tied up in suburbs. This infrastructure is not going to go away and be replaced by dense, urban communities. How can we reform the suburb to make sense in a new era?

Tesla Gigafactory & Battery Improvements Could Cut Battery Costs 50%–A reduction of this magnitude would make some serious waves.

UK To Remain Offshore Wind Giant With Forecasted 23.2 GW By 2025, GlobalData—I keep wondering when offshore wind is going to explode. Maybe that time is now.

China’s Wind Energy Capacity To Triple By 2020, Says GlobalData—For all of the bad things China does—pollution out of control, corruption, political repression—they sure are going after this whole renewable energy thing with gusto.

Your Body Immediately After Drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte—It’s that time of year when the pumpkin spice comes out and everyone wearing Ugg boots seems to have one in their hands. Here is what that concoction from satan’s belly does to your body.

I Ate a Bunch of Vegan Cheese, and It Was Actually Quite Tasty—As someone who has a child who is lactose intolerant and loves cheese all of these products are going to be on my next shopping list.

If You Never Knew You Needed It, Don’t Buy It—This is a rule we all should live by when shopping. How do you think Costco works? How many times have you ended up with something that was not on your list because it seemed so cool and useful?

Imagine a World without Waste: It’s Possible with a Circular Economy—Would this even fly in the west anymore? The minute someone would talk about these concepts in a political space the cries of “socialist!” and “communist!” would ring out.

Friday Linkage 11/15/2013

Man, the weather really turned from feeling like fall to the chill of winter.  It was cold, cold, cold to start the week and my body has not adjusted yet.  In a month I will be prepared for consecutive days of single digits.  Probably because I will have perfected my hibernation methods and hot cocoa preparation.

On to the links…

Fossil Fuels Receive $500 Billion A Year In Government Subsidies Worldwide—I am sure that somewhere an exec at Exxon or Shell is just smirking with the knowledge that they have fooled everyone into thinking that their industry is the paragon of the free market.  In reality it is just a giant recipient of tax payer funded welfare.

Oil Train Derails And Explodes In Alabama—On top of the subsidies, the fossil fuel industry is literally an accident waiting to happen.  If it is not spills from pipelines or ships or drilling rigs its exploding trains.

Massive Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes In Texas Town, Causing Evacuation Of 800 Residents—It just keeps getting better and better for the pipeline and transportation sector of the fossil fuel industry.  These are the people who want us to trust them to build a pipeline across the middle of the United States carrying nasty tar sands oil.  Sounds like a good plan.

The Untold Story Of The Dangerous New Experiment Coal Companies Want To Bring To America—As if coal was not bad enough, an Australian company now wants to try out gasifying coal seams underground.  It’s like the Frankenstein’s monster of fracking and coal mining.

Ethanol Investigation: The Secret, Dirty Cost Of Obama’s Green Power Push— The push to make ethanol for transportation fuel has been a boondoggle from the beginning primarily because it was about mollifying farm state politicians.  It was never about the environmentally responsible choice.  It was realpolitik plain and simple.

Shale’s Effect on Oil Supply Is Forecast to Be Brief—It looks like the current darling of the energy industry might be just a flash in the pan.  Long term solutions to our energy demands are needed and extensions of the current systems will not be viable.

5 Signs the Energy Sector is Changing Fast—Every day brings bad news about fossil fuels and good news about renewables.  Maybe it is not quite so dramatic, but it seems that way.

Can Elon Musk’s Cousin do for Solar what Tesla did for EVs?—I think the potential for SolarCity is greater because there is no “range anxiety” to a solar system on top of your roof.

Solar Activity Playing a Minimal Role in Global Warming—One of the favorite tropes of climate deniers is that any change in the climate is due more to an increase in solar activity than anything else.  Too bad it is not true.

If You Think China’s Air Is Bad …—China may have a story of amazing economic growth, but the cost that it paid to get that growth is finally being accounted for and it is not good.  The air is awful, with young kids being diagnosed with lung cancer, and the water situation may be worse.

Is This the Most Anti-Science, Anti-Environmental TV Ad Ever?—I thought that this was the most inane advertisement in a long time.  It’s no fun to visit nature, it’s more fun to run amok through a store picking out plastic crap made in China.  Whatever.

Study Describes Chicken Nuggets as Edible “Super Glue”—Are chicken nuggets the scariest food item on the menu?  Every time that you read an article about these little globules of whatever is inside there are frightening new revelations.  Can we just banish them forever?

The Co-Villains Behind Obesity’s Rise—It is my belief that we are better served tackling the obesity epidemic by looking at things in more holistic and nuanced terms.  Too often we look for solutions that are a magic bullet—usually a magic pill—that fail to deliver sustainable results because the surrounding environment has not changed.

An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming—Tom Steyer is an interesting dude.  After his donations helped propel Terry McAuliffe to victory in the Virginia governor’s race I expect he will be getting a lot of attention from the right soon.  Expect an expose from Sean Hannity on Steyer’s hippie ranch.

Cows Are The Root Of All Evil, And We’re Too Hungry To Care—I do not know about cows being the root of all evil—the connection between the devil having horns and cows having horns notwithstanding—but there are a lot of problems with our beef fetish.

What’s in It: Pumpkin Flavor—I have a hint for you…it’s not pumpkin.  Those pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks just seem nastier and nastier by the day.

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:

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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 3/8/2013

It’s always hard to come back from vacation, but it is hard to get back into the swing of things when you leave weather that is mid-70s and sunny for weather that is mid-teens and snowy.  Oh well, it’s the price that I pay for living in Iowa.

On to the links…

AirBot and WaterBot to Democratize Pollution Monitoring—I want both of these!  Now!  Can you imagine the power in unleashing distributed monitoring of pollution in our air and water?  Bring it on.

New York Times Green Blog Bids Adieu—I am going to miss the Green blog on the New York Times, which was unceremoniously killed March 1st.  As other  major outlets cease providing journalistic coverage of environmental news I can only shudder in fear for the hackery that will follow.

A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park’s Edges—On the edges of Glacier National Park there is a boom in fracking and drilling for natural gas.  Tony Bynum, a photographer who is known for his work in Big Sky Country, has created an interactive map to show what is going on.  It’s a fitting goodbye post for Green.

China Must Send a Clear Message to Consumers on Ivory Trade—I am going to get this out there right away, China is essentially the bane of wildlife’s existence right now.  If there is an endangered species out there right now, it’s threat is usually a result of demand for body parts in China for some bizarre cultural tradition, invented or otherwise.  Granted, other countries are doing the same thing—I am looking at you Japan when it comes to whales and dolphins—but China is a common enemy of wildlife.

Images of Japan’s Barren Tsunami Coast Two Years Later—It’s amazing how little progress has been made in repairing the damage to the coast of Japan following the devastating tsunami.  I understand that the process is long—trust me, Cedar Rapids just now feels like it is getting back to normal after a brutal flood in the summer of 2008—but it seems like Japan is just caught in stasis.

Solar PV has Reached Unsubsidized Grid Parity in India and Italy—You want your mind blown?  Solar PV is now at a price level where it is competing “even Stevens” with fossil fuels.  It’s an inflection point that may accelerate the decarbonisation of our energy system.

Coal Use Declining in U.S., Going Up Everywhere Else—The U.S. is reaping the fruit of its boom in natural gas by supplanting coal generation, but a lot of the rest of the world is not so “lucky.”

BP Bows Out of Solar—Does anyone remember when British Petroleum was going “beyond petroleum?”  Yep, it’s pretty much a dead campaign now.  At least the outlook for solar as an industry, on the whole, is looking good.

Lancaster, California Requires all New Homes to Have Solar Roofs—Talk about a bright spot.  If you build a new house in Lancaster, California it will have, at a minimum, a 1kw solar array on its roof.  Homes on larger lots will be required to have larger systems.  Dig it.

The Loophole That’s Letting Conservatives Manipulate Renewable Energy Standards—Why do conservatives, in general, hate renewable energy?  It seems like a “win-win” for the U.S. to produce as much of its power from domestic sources that can never run out.  However, nothing lines the pockets like manna from Exxon-Mobil.

CREE LED Light Bulb Hits Price Point—Is $10 per bulb the price point at which LED bulbs fly off the shelves?  I have purchased “off brand” LEDS for about $10 and found their performance to be acceptable, but nothing like the $40 or so bulbs I bought for a pair of high use lamps.  Maybe CREE has cracked the ceiling or floor, as it were.

In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods—I have a problem coming to grips with the role of genetically modified organisms.  On one hand, it seems ridiculous to engineer an organisms genetic structure to make it resistant to herbicides to further a chemical farming regime that is unsustainable.  On the other hand, if something could be done to reduce the incidence of critical malnutrition there may be value.  I hate nuance.

A Cheat Sheet to Win Climate Arguments—Keep this handy infographic ready to joust with climate deniers:

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Friday Linkage 12/7/2012

It’s December.  If I thought the holiday spirit of crass commercialism, bad songs, and even worse parties was in full gear last week it’s like a double barreled blast of nasty in my face now.

On to the links…

Tim DeChristopher Blocked from Doing Social Justice Work—What a joke.  Considering that he was imprisoned for protesting something that was later ruled invalid is just the beginning of this sordid tale.  At the end of the day the U.S. federal government has appeared to be nothing more than a petty bully.

Cornstalks Everywhere, but Nothing Else—It is sad to drive past acre after acre of corn planted in fields realizing that none of it is really “food” in the traditional sense.  It’s not like I can take an ear of field corn and consume it or get any nutrition from it.  It appears that is true for the natural world as well.

Tree Puts on More Wood at 3,200 Years Old Than Younger Trees–Amazing, simply amazing.  The more we learn about the natural world the more I am convinced that we have not explored the potential that is present.  But, we have managed to produce Honey Boo Boo so humans are doing something right.

Countries Spend Five Times  More on Fossil Fuel Subsidies than Climate Aid—This really should not surprise anyone.  For all the talk about how dynamic the oil and gas sector is in the economy, it truly is one of the most subsidized and supported industries in the modern economy.  About the only thing worse is the military industrial complex.

Will India Surge Ahead of the West in Renewable Energy?—India seems to be the new laboratory for renewable energy because the current infrastructure is so decrepit that the hope is India can leap beyond the step of a centralized system—a la the West—and to a distributed generation model.  Hmmm….

U.S. Energy Outlook: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly—With all due apologies to Sergio Leone, the U.S. energy future is a mixed bag.  A lot of this depends on one thing: the price of natural gas and the ability of companies to continue fracking.  If natural gas gets a lot more expensive than renewables become even more attractive vis a vis coal due to the truly brutal negatives for coal generated power.

Chevrolet Volt Owners have Driven 100 Million Electric Miles—The Chevrolet Volt seems like one of the most interesting stories in next generation automobiles.  Every day there is a story about the insane amount of data that is being collected about the driving behaviors of the owners that speaks volumes more than any anecdote ever could.

Good News for Coffee Drinkers: It’s Basically a Nutrient—Essential for my daily life, but a nutrient?  Sweet.  Now all those late nights and early mornings at my “real” job can qualify as wellness improvement.

A New Day is Coming for St. Paul’s Union Depot—The Twin Cities really seem to have it going on lately.  First, the cities are amazing biking destinations even when you factor in the brutal winter.  Second, mass transit is really happening in a lot of places with the light rail expansion, North Star commuter rail, and the reopening of St. Paul’s Union Depot.  Plus, the city is a great destination for beer drinkers.