Tag Archives: tar sands

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 3/3/2017


Damn, March already?  Where did the winter go?  Oh right, winter is going to be a shorter and shorter season as climate change robs us of snowy days and Donald Trump fiddles while the world burns.

On to the links…

Social Media Are Driving Americans Insane—The greatest thing I have ever done is disengage from Facebook.  I maintain an account because there are some businesses that require a log-in to view their content due to age restrictions, etc. but I do not maintain any sort of up-to-date presence.  Consider disengaging as well for the sake of your soul.

This Video Will Make You Believe in Climate Change—It’s not like someone reading this blog does not already believe in the impacts of climate change.  Take a moment, watch the video, and forward the link on to someone who might be on the fence.  Just avoid that Trump supporter in your office who reacts to everything with a spittle laced tirade.

The Pruitt Emails: E.P.A. Chief Was Arm in Arm With Industry—Scott Pruitt is a tool of the oil and gas lobby.  Plain and simple.  Any decision he makes as the head of the EPA is tainted by his close ties with oil and gas companies.

Exxon just Decided to Keep a Big Chunk of its Tar Sands in the Ground—Did you hear that?  It was the faintest sound that oil companies know that difficult to obtain sources of oil are not going to be economically viable in an economy where renewables and efficiency are the name of the game.

Why Oil Prices will Never Return to $100 a Barrel, in One Chart—I am not going to say never like the title of the article, but the underlying supply and demand curves do not favor high priced oil:

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The Blue Collar Job of the Future Is Solar Panel Installer—Coal mining is dead.  Automation, natural gas, and coal executives killed the coal miner’s job.  Installing solar panels and working on wind turbines are the blue collar replacement you have been seeking.

Palo Alto’s Repair Café Aims to Combat Throwaway Culture—The world needs more of this kind of cooperation.  How many of us have something that is in need of a small repair that we are incapable of doing?  How many of those slightly broken items could have a long life ahead of them?

How a Pacific Island Changed From Diesel to 100% Solar Power—Islands are our renewable energy laboratories because the electricity grids tend to be isolated and expensive to operate.  Lessons learned from these projects can be applied to larger grids on the mainland.

Pumped Hydro Storage Could Secure 100% Renewable Electricity For Australia—Think about pumped hydro storage as a huge, fairly efficient battery that can be deployed to regulate the intermittency of renewables.

Vacant Lots Provide More Ecosystem Services than Backyard Trees—In the book The New Wild the author makes the same point that vacant, disturbed land is a valuable ecosystem in an era when all landscapes have been shaped by human hands through climate change.

This Anarchist and ‘Anti-Fascist’ Activist is Using Facts to go After the Far-Right Fringe—You are free to say whatever you want in this country and the government cannot impinge your freedom for doing so, but that does not mean private citizens need to put up with your shit.  Daryle Lamont Jenkins is an American hero for making sure that these reprehensible scumbags cannot hide in their little alt-right spider holes.

Infographic Explains Why Coffee and Tea are so Good for Us—Ahhh, infographics.  Like salve for my soul:

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Friday Linkage 12/5/2014

Work travel really sends me for a loop. I leave for Thanksgiving break and before I sit down in the office again it is December. Pretty soon I will be hurtling down I-80 towards Colorado and Christmas vacation in the mountains.

On to the links…

Fracking Boom could go Bust Faster than Obama Thinks—There are a lot of energy experts who believe the recent surge in U.S. fossil fuel production via fracking is going to be a short lived moment. Basically, it might buy us until 2020 when fuel prices will again soar. Time to invest this dividend into solar!

Tar Sands Development Financially Unsustainable, Report Shows—Dirty, dirty tar sands oil is only economically viable if the price for oil stays above $95 a barrel. At current prices the production is a big time money loser and investors might lose out big. If that happens it will be decades before the industry recovers. See what Texas looked like in the mid-1980s.

India’s Installed Solar Power Capacity Crosses 3 GW—The expansion of solar is down this year compared to last—800MW versus 1GW—but India is making some real strides in deploying grid scale solar.

China’s Solar Energy Progress Sputters—Everything seems to be bigger in China these days, but solar power installations seem to be falling short of stated goals. Last year 13 gigawatts of solar came on line and that number falls to 10 gigawatts in 2014, which is a reduction from a goal of 15 gigawatts. Still, it’s a lot of solar power.

World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Is Now In Operation—The Topaz project features over 9 million solar panels and has the capacity to generate 550 megawatts of carbon free juice. Damn. I want one.

Animated Guide To The Solar Rooftop Revolution—Rooftop solar is coming to a roof near you. Distributed generation is an amazing trend that could really change the face of the utility market forevermore.

New Solar Cell Efficiency Record Set At 46%–Solar is getting cheaper because of better manufacturing, competition, and the constant drive to extract more energy from every speck of silicon. 46% efficiency is pretty amazing.

How Wind Energy Is Subsidizing Albertan Ratepayers—Yep, wind power was driving down the pool price for Alberta ratepayers.

Wind Industry Is An Economic Shot In The Arm—So, as the argument over the extension of the wind production tax credit wages in Washington maybe every politician who says they are concerned about jobs ought to consider the economic impact of the wind power industry.

Solar Uniquely Positioned to Help States Meet New Regulations—Solar is the way forward in reducing emissions. If we could replace coal megawatts for solar megawatts the impact would be huge. Smokestacks and mines or roofs and panels…your pick.

Florida Fails to Support Solar Energy for Homes and Businesses—Florida is pretty much the worst. If there is a policy that might help people or the environment you can rest assured that it will be dead in the water. It’s a swampy hell hole.

NextEra Buys Hawaii’s Biggest Utility To Study Renewable Energy in the Island State—NextEra is viewing Hawaii and its isolated grid as the perfect laboratory for the transition to clean energy. It also helps that executives will now get to make “business” trips to the islands.

Beyond-the-Grid Is Not Just About Light, It’s About Resiliency—Not being dependent on fragile centralized systems is a good strategy in a world that is going increasingly strange.

Antibacterial Soap Ingredient Triclosan now Linked to Liver Fibrosis—At what point does everyone just stop using triclosan? The stuff is not actually effective and it has a whole host of side effects.

How We Can Make the Food Supply Chain More Eco-Friendly—Marlyhurst University put together a nice little infographic showing the ways in which we can “green” the supply chain for our food:

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Friday Linkage 2/21/2014

I am going to blame climate change of the schizophrenic February weather here in Iowa.  On Monday it snowed about four or five inches.  On Tuesday and Wednesday it was forty or almost fifty degrees.  On Thursday and into Friday we got a nice wallop of a winter storm.  I cannot wait to see what the future looks like if this is the present.

On to the links…

Saving an Endangered British Species: The Pub—It’s not the most important news story of the week, but it is the most poignant to me.  There is something deeply romantic about the “local.”  However, as time marches on and dollars get in the way the local pub is going to give way to malls and lofts.

Obama Directs EPA and DOT to Tighten Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy Trucks by 2016—This is one of those “boring but very important” stories that tends to get missed in all the headlines about containers being repurposed into student housing or another ten uses for mason jars.  As the article states, these trucks represent 7% of the vehicles on the road yet account for 25% of the transportation fuel consumed.

New York Scrubs Microbeads—Microbeads, those little balls of plastic in cosmetics and facial cleansers, are really bad for water.  Why?  Because the small little bits of plastic do not necessarily get filtered out and make their way into the food system.  All for cleaner, brighter skin.

Train Carrying Canadian Oil Derails In Western Pennsylvania—I am not in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline and I think that it would be best if tar sands oil were left in the ground.  However, if the oil is going to be transported to the U.S. should it not come over the border in a way that is safer than trains of flammable liquid rolling through our towns?

Here’s Why 50 Percent More Coal Plants Could Be Retiring Than Experts Previously Thought—Maybe it’s because coal basically sucks.  It pollutes.  It’s a big contributor to climate change.  Mining coal is a disaster.  Oh wait, and it does not make economic sense.  Okay.  Got it.

A Huge Solar Plant Opens, Facing Doubts About Its Future—The Ivanpah facility is amazing and according to the chattering class it will probably be the last of its kind built.  Still, 377 megawatts from the sun is amazing.

Water-Cleaning Technology Could Help Farmers—When you read through this article think about the technology that the company is using.  Not a single thing is brand new or needing to be worked on.  This is an application of existing technology to solve a current problem.  Pretty sweet.

Can Anybody Save California?—The title is provocative, but the question is too simple.  The real question is can anyone save what California has become?  There is a future for the state if it can learn to live within its hydrological means, but history has shown that it is incapable or unwilling to even try.

Denmark Is About To Set Even More Ambitious Climate Goals Than All Of Europe—I wish more countries could be like Denmark.  It’s not just their stance on trying to mitigate climate change, but the country’s whole attitude in general.  If I could choose a country beside the U.S. to live in it would probably be Denmark.

How One Brown Student Shut Down The NRA—Sometimes all it takes to stop the giant is persistence and the courage to stand up.  There are few bullies bigger than the NRA.  In American politics they are the Christ Christie of special interests, but they can be taken down.

No, GMOs Won’t Harm Your Health—The fervor about the health impairment of GMOs reminds me of the anti-vaccine fears promoted by a misinformed population that could not be swayed from their opinion regardless of facts.  Of course, that also sounds like climate deniers who cling to faith as the sole reason to ignore science.

Butter and Whole Milk Linked to Lower Obesity Rates—Have we finally moved past the anti-fat crusade?

How To Clean Your Microwave Naturally With Just a Lemon—Cleaning the inside of a microwave is about the worst job in the kitchen because there does not seem to be a way to do it well.  I use a cup of vinegar in a way similar to the lemon in this article.

God’s 12 Biggest Dick Moves in the Old Testament—Speaking of faith, here is a decent list of the biggest ass clown moves God pulled in the Bible.  I always find it interesting when “New Testament” Christians tell me how God is all about love and what not.  If they read the Old Testament things might be a little different.  Then again, these people like to cherry pick what parts of the Bible they need to suit their prejudices.

The African Savannah Is Even More Beautiful From a Bird’s-Eye View—Nature is freakin’ amazing.  Sometimes we just need to sit back and be amazed by the beauty.

Friday Linkage 2/14/2014

During the winter residents of the Midwest who have lived here more than a few years are pretty stoic about the cold and snow.  This winter, with its epic cold snaps and constant moisture events, have made people look toward days where the temperatures sneak above 32 degrees Fahrenheit with a hunger bordering on salacious.

Next week’s anticipated temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit will feel downright tropical.

On to the links…

Sustainable Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough Raises Hopes for Ultimate Green Energy—Nuclear fusion is the holy grail of green energy development and would alter the face of the world if it could be made to work at a scale that was economical.  Every step forward toward that goal is important, even if it is incremental at best.

Company Has Yet To Stop Leaks That Have Been Spilling Tar Sands In Alberta For 9 Months—Do you want to know what the future looks like if we fully exploit Canadian tar sands?  Look no further than this leak in Alberta that has been occurring for the past nine months.  Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. should be ashamed but they will probably just use it as an excuse to push for more development in some twisted logic that only an oil man would understand.

Pipe Break At Coal Facility Contaminates West Virginia Waterway—Can’t West Virginia catch a break.  Not when your state is owned by coal interests.  It looks like Patriot Coal, the spinoff of everyone’s favorite coal villain Peabody Coal, is responsible this time.  The company will find a way to weasel out of paying any damages.

6 Ways Ted Cruz Wants To Increase Carbon Pollution, All In One Bill—Ted Cruz is really swinging for the fences as he attempts to position himself as the presumptive wingnut nominee for President of the United States.  Please run.  It could be worse, we could be hearing from Rick Santorum.

U.S. Average Fuel Economy Increases In January—Not all U.S. energy news was bad this week.  Fleetwide U.S. fuel economy increased to 24.9 miles per gallon in January 2014.  The surprising part of the statistic is that “green” cars like hybrids and EVs actually saw sales fall, but high mileage traditional engine cars made up for the decline with marked improvement in fuel economy.

Wind of Change Sweeps Through Energy Policy in the Caribbean—Aruba was spending close to 16% of its annual income on fuel imported from outside the country.  By 2020, the island nation hopes to be free of fossil fuel imports.  If a small island nation can commit to the transition why can’t more countries?

India Wants To Switch 26 Million Water Pumps To Solar Power Instead Of Diesel—We all love the idea of rooftops covered in solar panels, but there so many applications for solar that do not involve residential electricity.  What is the market for 26 million systems look like?

Interactive Map Shows 47,000 Onshore Wind Turbines in U.S.—Maps are cool.  Maps that show wind turbines are really cool.

California has One-Third of Nation’s Solar Jobs—This is not surprising given the scale of California’s solar programs and companies like SolarCity being established in the state.  It also gives hopes to other states that have great solar resources to exploit in experiencing job growth associated with a new industry.

I Spent 28 Hours on a Bus. I Loved It.—Meteorologist Eric Holthaus decided to reduce his personal carbon footprint.  The most significant single driver that he could impact was to cut out flying.  Read about trying to travel long distances in this country without using air travel.

14 Food Waste Facts That Will Make You Want to Change the World—One of the easiest changes that we can make on a personal level to reduce our carbon footprint is to stop wasting food.  The statistics about food waste are kind of mind bending.

7 Things Republicans Would Be Shocked to Learn About Ronald Reagan—For most Republicans Ronald Reagan stands atop the their personal Mount Rushmore even though a lot of his actions in office run counter to their current crop of ideals.  Taxes?  He raised them.  Illegal immigrants?  Amnesty.  Guns?  Regulated.  Tear down this myth already.

Amid Elephant Slaughter, Ivory Trade in U.S. Continues—Yes, the idea is that the ivory predates rules about the traffic in illegal ivory but it is impossible to enforce.  There should be a complete ban on the sale of ivory goods in the U.S.  Plain and simple.

Camels Had No Business in Genesis—One can never make the “Bible is literal” crowd believe because their default retort is impossible to assail even as it is the most asinine belief system in the world.  Science is just a lie to these people.  What amazes me, however, is how prominent many of these whack jobs have become.

Friday Linkage 9/16/2011

The weather turned distinctly fall-like in the span of a couple of days this week.  It was 88 and sunny on Monday, but by Wednesday it was hovering in the low 60s and frost was starting to appear in the morning.  With football on the television it is time to make some chili and enjoy the change of the seasons.

Reinventing Fire—The Rocky Mountain Institute has release a detailed roadmap designed to move the United States to a fossil fuel free economy by 2050.  Is it bold?  Yes.  Is it doable?  Yes.  Who is standing in the way?  Lots of people led by Republicans.

Tar Sands Showdown: The Fight Over the Future of Energy—A decent interview with Bill McKibben from Wired about the Keystone XL pipeline project and the associated tar sands projects in Canada.  I think framing this as the future of energy can be a smart move because it is a dystopian future.  Consider that there is no such thing as a leakproof pipeline.

Cars Don’t Waste Fuel, People Do—The cheapest and easiest way to increase the fuel efficiency of the existing fleet is to change the behavior of the people operating the wheel of the cars.  No one is saying we all need to become fanatical hypermilers, but there is a lot of room for improvement.  I think about this every time I see a Toyota Prius blow past me on the interstate at 90 miles per hour.  How efficient is any car going that fast?  Not very.

600 Tons of Compost a Day—In San Francisco, a mandatory composting law has led to the collection of 600 tons of food waste per day!  It is amazing that this much material is being diverted from the landfill and that this material was landfilled in the first place.  The linked video shows how the city’s facility deals with such a high volume of material.

Why “Killing the Electric Car” is a Bad Idea—The debate continues on the viability of the electric car, but this article argues that the electric car is a component of our transportation future because it offers flexibility.  In other words, electric propulsion is part of a portfolio of transportation options.  In portfolio theory, you diversify in an effort to reduce risk.  Therefore, a variety of transportation options becomes the tool with which we diversify away the risk of future energy shocks.

Urban Foragers Live Simply, Cheaply Off the Land—Do you ever see fruit trees in your neighborhood and wonder if anyone eats those apples?  Do you ever see bushes and wonder if someone picks those elderberries?  Urban foragers do.  The landscape is filled with options if only we will open our eyes to the possibilities.

Is a Bike Really More Efficient than a Car?—An interesting take from a very car-centric blog.  It sort of misses the total cost of ownership, embodied energy, etc. of driving a car.  I do agree that sometimes the expense of cycling can become onerous for those of us who love doodads and exotic materials.  Why yes, I would love a commuter bike make of carbon fiber with titanium bits.