Tag Archives: Think Progress

Friday Linkage 3/31/2017

It is starting to feel like spring in Iowa, which means it has rained for several of the past few days and the temps are holding to a balmy mid-40s range.  Joy.

Despite the less than stellar weather it is time to start thinking about warmer weather projects and the list is long this year.  I cannot wait to get my hands dirty again.

On to the links…

What If They Killed The Clean Power Plan & Nobody Cared?—This is the best case scenario for the next few years.  We can only hope that the cost curve keeps bending in renewable energy’s favor and that coal continues to die a long, slow death.

Top US Coal Boss Robert Murray: Trump ‘Can’t Bring Mining Jobs Back’—Donald Trump lied, no big surprise, because coal jobs are not coming back.  No one is going to reopen old mines in Appalachia and the mines in the western U.S. are all about big machines.

Clean Energy Employs More People than Fossil Fuels in Nearly Every U.S. State—Seems like the jobs argument is pretty simple.  Granted, Exxon Mobil does not give donations to its political cronies to promote solar jobs.

Do Environmental Regulations Reduce Employment? Not Really.—Facts do not matter to the current administration and its Russian stooges, so I imagine that a fact based argument about environmental regulations would be shouted down as fake news or some such bullshit.

Alaska Warms to Solar Power as Prices Fall and Benefits Grow—This is Alaska.  Other than Wyoming fewer states are more associated with fossil fuels than Alaska.  If Alaska goes solar what’s left?

As Energy Mix Becomes Cleaner, Minnesotans Paying Less for It—So a cleaner power grid is a cheaper power grid.  Okay, who wants to argue against cheaper and cleaner?

Tesla Solar in Hawaii is a Sign of Things to Come—The future is now.

Australian Rooftop Solar Installs Are Up 43% In 2017—Australia should be covered in solar panels.  The country is more sun baked than any I can think of outside of the Middle East.

Rescuing Los Angeles—I am beginning to think the future will look a lot like this small patch of Los Angeles.  As institutions are increasingly prevented from being effective by elected leaders beholden to deceitful special interests solutions to livability will be hyper-local and inherently DIY.

Solving Global Dietary Problems is a Bigger Challenge than Climate Change—Meat is bad for the climate.  There is little logical argument against this statement.  Also, western societies eat too much meat.  Again, there is little logical argument against this statement.

Cycling in Minnesota Creates Thousands of Jobs and Cuts Health-Care Spending—Basically, cycling is awesome.

5 Packaging Materials You Didn’t Know are Difficult to Recycle—How many of these packaging materials have you or I blindly thrown in the recycling bin?

Illinois Considers Legalizing Marijuana for a Fiscal Boost—This is the end of prohibition on marijuana in the United States.  Once the first state does it for economic reasons every other non-legalized state will follow.  It’s all about the Benjamins.

U.S. Craft Brewers Up 6% in Volume, 10% in Retail Dollars—Craft beer in the U.S. continues to grow at a rapid clip. However, I am worried about the long term prospects for so many breweries.

Rapidgrass Sings The I-70 Blues—If you have ever thought your ski vacation would begin soon after seeing the mountains poke through Front Range haze on I-76 you have not experienced the I-70 blues.

Friday Linkage 2/10/2017

The abnormal has become the normal.  The surrogates of the president lie—massacres in Bowling Green, terrorist attacks in Atlanta, who knows that else—with a zeal that makes me wonder if it is overtly encouraged by the current president.  Alternative facts—known as lies to anyone with the sense of a first grader—have become the new currency of cable news.  Have we actually entered the Twilight Zone?

Wake me up in a few years.

On to the links…

U.S. Wind, Solar Power Tout Rural Jobs as Trump Pushes Coal—Trump has a narrative in his simple mind that coal is power and solar is for hippies.  Too bad the reality on the ground—like so many things—does not actually match this narrative.  Maybe it is an alternative fact?

Americans are Now Twice as Likely to Work in Solar as in Coal—If you were going to ask for a group’s support which would you pick: the group with more jobs that is growing or the group with fewer jobs that is declining?  Which one do you think the sitting president chose?

6 Reasons the Clean Energy Revolution Doesn’t need Trump’s Blessing—Trump may think that his perch atop his imperial presidency makes him capable of doing whatever he wants and making it happen via proclamation, but the reality on the ground is very different.

Reasons to be Cheerful: A Full Switch to Low-Carbon Energy is in Sight—I like the positive spin on this.

Cheaper Renewables to Halt Coal and Oil Demand Growth from 2020—This is what the death spiral looks like.  As the technology doing the replacing gets cheaper and easier to deploy there is no way that the displaced technology can compete on either cost or performance, so it’s displacement becomes self-fulfilling.  Once the coal mines shutter who is going to invest in coal?

Electric Vehicles Will Be A Major Oil Price Driver In The Future—The question is how much a disruption in oil demand will be needed to make a major difference in price.  Recently, we have seen swing production of less than 10% cause major price disruptions.

We’re Probably Underestimating How Quickly Electric Vehicles will Disrupt the Oil Market—Disruption can happen fast.  I cannot wait to see what the EV market looks like when both Chevrolet and Tesla are selling EVs at volume for an attainable price.

Californians are Paying Billions for Power they Don’t Need—This story kind of blew my mind.

Rachel Carson, ‘Mass Murderer’? A Right-Wing Myth about ‘Silent Spring’ is Poised for a Revival—With people like Scott Pruitt installed at the EPA and right wing whack jobs in Congress I am expecting this old trope to get a lot of play on the cable news cycle.

L.A.’s Mayor Wants to Lower the City’s Temperature, and these Scientists are Figuring out How to do it—The L.A. Times came strong with some stories this week that I think are of relevance to our understanding of the world.

Invading Pythons and the Weird, Uncertain Future of the Florida Everglades—Florida is a petri dish for everything we have screwed up over the past few decades.  Now it is also a living laboratory for what happens when invasive species change the dynamic.  After reading The New Wild [https://www.amazon.com/New-Wild-Invasive-Species-Salvation/dp/0807039551] I am left to wonder if anything can be considered invasive in Florida anymore given how dramatically that landscape has been changed over the last few centuries.

Friday Linkage 2/3/2017

Well, this week happened.  It was a week in which I found myself agreeing with Dick freaking Cheney.  The man better known as W’s Darth Vader actually came out against Trump’s horrible ban on refugees as “against everything we stand for and believe in.

Never mind the failure to actually limit immigration or entry into the United States from countries that have exported terror to the United States—yes, I am wondering why Saudi Arabia was left off the list and it could not have anything to do with Trump’s sons business dealings.  You remember that Eric and Don Jr. are running the empire now, right?

On to the links…

This Map Might Make You Think Twice About Trump’s Immigration Ban—I wonder why Donald Trump and Steve Bannon did not include Saudi Arabia—home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists—on their list of countries?  Oh right, conflicts of interest:

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Republican Bill to Privatize Public Lands is Yanked after Outcry—Your voices matter.  When a snake oil salesman like Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is forced to back down amid public outcry, you know something is working in this messed up world.  Keep up the heat and make sure that every member of Congress knows that we are watching.

‘It’s A Big One’: Iowa Pipeline Leaks—The number of gallons of diesel fuel leaked is being debated.  Of course the oil company says it is fewer than reported, but who really believes them?  Remember this every time someone says that oil pipelines are so safe.

US Coal Industry Will Continue Historic Decline Through 2017—In spite of Donald Trump’s rhetoric coal will continue to fall out of favor in the U.S.  It is called a death spiral for a reason.

The Great Energy Disruption—When you go back and look at these projections, as the author points out, many of the assumptions driving the models are wrong…to the better.  Renewable energy generation has gotten cheaper, faster.  Energy storage has gotten cheaper, faster.  The beat goes on.

Who Installs More Solar Power? Republicans and Democrats are Pretty Much Tied.—Must not be any of the Republicans elected to Congress.  Those guys hate solar.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt May Be The Start Of The Everyday Electric Revolution—This is why the Chevy Bolt may be the true winner of the electric vehicle war to come…it’s kind of boring, in an everyday get my stuff done kind of way.

The Next EV Revolution: Think Trucks and Buses—If you are looking to get some serious savings in terms of oil consumed in the transportation sector look to heavy duty commercial vehicles.  This quote from the article encapsulates the opportunity perfectly: While medium and heavy trucks account for only 4% of America’s 250+ million vehicles, they represent 26% of American fuel use and 29% of vehicle CO2 emissions.

Chart of the Month: Driven by Tesla, Battery Prices Cut in Half since 2014—Think about that for a moment—battery costs have been cut in half in approximately three years.  This is before the Gigafactory and mainstream EVs really hit the market bringing some true economies of scale to bear:

1 IWOQkF5YxbKykAFypJEmFA.jpeg

Going Local: The Solution-Multiplier—In the age of Trump local matter more than ever.

Diageo Opening Guinness Brewery in US—With all the great craft beer in America, do we really need Guinness to open up a destination brewery?  I have had their rye pale ale and it does not belong on the shelf with a hundred other great American beers.

Nation’s Bacon Reserves hit 50-year Low as Prices Rise—In case your week was not crappy enough there may not be enough sweet, savory, delicious bacon to salve our wounded souls in the era of Trump.  WTF?

Friday Linkage 9/18/2015

Tom Brady supports Donald Trump. Peyton Manning is starring on the field as a weaker armed version of the Hall of Fame quarterback. Jay Cutler is doing Jay Cutler things again in Chicago. You could say that I spent some time this last week watching football and just plain zoning out. Go Hawks!

On to the links…

How Much Of Your Retirement Fund Is Tied Up In Fossil Fuels? Now, You Can Find Out.—A person’s 401k will be one of the two largest investments in a portfolio, with a home being the only competitor. How much of that money is going to support fossil fuel interests?

Half Of California’s Electricity Will Come From Renewable Energy In 15 Years—California passed a major climate change related bill recently. Although it was watered down by fossil fuel interests at the last minute there is still a lot of good things in the legislation.

A Third American City Is Now Running Entirely On Renewable Energy—It is still one the most pretentious ski towns in the world—go Steamboat Springs!—but it is now 100% fueled by renewables. There is a lot of marketing involved in the effort, but it is commendable nonetheless.

Meet the New National Geographic and Weep—The same people who bring you the sheer horror that is Fox & Friends will be the same people who publish one of the most amazing magazines in world history. Rupert Murdoch ruins everything that he touches and National Geographic will be no different.

AB InBev plans takeover bid for SABMiller—You want to talk about mega-merger. This is it. Nine of the world’s twenty largest breweries would be controlled by a single entity. Now, a lot of that volume would be made up of junk macro beer that has seen flat to declining sales for the past decade. So, maybe this is a doubling down on a losing bet hoping for a nag to come through.

National Grid CEO: Large Power Stations For Baseload Power Is Outdated—The distributed model—think the internet—has supplanted the traditional centralized model of most industries save for electrical power generation.

Siemens Looks Toward Next-Generation 10–20 MW Wind Turbines—Think about a 10 to 20 MW wind turbine for a moment. At the mid-range it could be the equivalent of 10 GE 1.5 MW turbines that dot the American landscape. Wow!

The Palm Oil Plantations Powering Communities and Tackling Climate Change—Why aren’t all large scale agricultural operations taking such a holistic approach to their energy use and lifecycle? The number that got me was reducing the diesel use from 2.8 million liters per year to under 500,000 liters per year.

10 Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Smell in Your Kitchen Sink—If you cook a lot in your home you are quite familiar with the strange odors that can come from the disposal drain in the kitchen sink. I use a combination of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint liquid soap and hot water. It takes care of any funk lickety split.

8 Things to Never Bring into Your Home—We are always looking for those quick hit things to make our homes a little bit greener. Here are eight easy things to avoid.

25 Things you Should Start Adding to your Compost Pile—How many of these things do you throw away that could be put into the compost?

This Southern State Made A Big Commitment To Start Teaching About Climate Change—Welcome to the modern age Alabama. Roll tide!

These Two Genius Tricks to Improve School Food Have Nothing to Do With What’s for Lunch—Simple and cost effective. These are the changes that we can make on the local level that will really impact our children’s lives.

Friday Linkage 8/21/2015

It got unseasonably cool here in eastern Iowa this week. Like, mid-50s at night and no more than mid-70s during the day. I am sure that we will pay for this comfortable weather with a slap of hot and humid in the coming weeks, but it was a nice preview of the cool fall weather to come.

On to the links…

How The EPA Plans To Cut Methane Emissions From Oil And Gas Wells—This falls into the “boring, but important” category of news. The EPA is proposing new regulations on methane emissions, which is important because methane is a very potent greenhouse gas and a lot of methane is released at gas drilling sites.

Four Powerhouse Bills to Help California get to 50 Percent Renewable Energy—In a lot of economic and policy circles the saying goes “As goes California…” because the size of California determines a lot of what happens in the rest of the country. If California could really get to 50% renewable energy it would be a major change.

World Needs 53GW Of Solar PV Installed Per Year To Address Climate Change—If that is the number, how do we get to 53 GW per year? I know that this is more of a thought exercise than anything else, but in order to beat the worst of climate change we are going to need addressable goals.

Coal Mining Sector Running Out of Time, says Citigroup—I am not going to start playing the funeral dirge just yet, but when major financiers and banks are pulling out of coal and being public about the shift the winds of change are blowing.

90 Years of U.S. Fuel Economy Data Shows the Power of Incentives, Dangers of Stagnation—This is a pretty compelling chart:

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Why did we have such a lull in the 90s and early-2000s? Oh right, SUVs and a right wing that encouraged nothing but “drill, baby drill.” Thanks.

How Much Of California’s Drought Was Caused By Climate Change? Scientists Now Have The Answer.—California is bound to go through periodic droughts, but it looks like the current drought cycle is being exacerbated by climate change.

How Killing Elephants Finances Terror in Africa—This is just a fascinating read. The author placed GPS chips into fake elephant tusks to track where illicit ivory made its way across the globe.

The Pork Industry is Full of this Drug You’ve Never Heard Of—Ractopamine, besides sounding like the name of a plague in a spy movie, is bad stuff. Most of the rest of the world has not deemed meat raised with this drug safe for human consumption, but in the good ol’ USA it’s what’s for dinner.

How the Midwest’s Corn Farms Are Cooking the Planet—Industrial corn production is turning out to be one of the more environmentally damaging agricultural pursuits of the modern age. Maybe it is time we start looking at a different paradigm.

The American Lawn Is Now The Largest Single ‘Crop’ In The U.S.—If corn is bad, lawns are downright insane. At least there is something that comes out of a corn field. A lawn is just a green carpet that requires more maintenance than wall-to-wall white shag carpeting.

What Happens When Your Cash Crop Goes Bust: The Fall and Rise of Zimbabwe’s Coffee Economy—A really good write up about what happened to Zimbabwe’s gourmet coffee economy following the seizing of farms by the Mugabe dictatorship.

An Artist Proves There’s Enough Sugar In Your Soda to Create a Lollipop—Would you drink a lollipop? Probably not, but you are doing the equivalent every time you drink a Coke.

Friday Linkage 8/14/2015

I know I originally said I was not going to publish any links today, but there were a few good stories about renewable energy costs that I wanted to highlight. Plus, it’s been a slow couple of days for work here in Boulder.

On to the links…

Cost of Producing Wind Power Reached a New Low in the U.S. Last Year—It is very cheap to deploy wind power.

‘Tipping Point’ for Florida Solar? Orlando Utility Buys at Under Fossil Generation Prices—Remember for a moment that this is in not very renewable friendly Florida. If that state can have renewables at parity or below with fossil fuels it has to be a cinch for other states to do the same.

Another Low-Solar-Price Record: Saudi Electric Company Lands Solar PPA Under 5¢/kWh—This is some seriously cheap solar.

Axa Boss Henri de Castries on Coal: ‘Do you really want to be the last investor?’—This has to be one of the most damning statements I have seen about the future viability of coal company stocks. Remember, publicly traded stock is how many large companies achieve capital goals in the modern age. Without access to this capital it is very hard, if not impossible, to achieve scale.

Cloud Peak Energy Fights To Preserve Loopholes, Ability To Rip Off Taxpayers—So, not only are these companies increasingly bad investments but their financial security rests on ripping off the American people. Why exactly do people like Mitch McConnell defend coal companies with such vigor?

New Zealand to be Coal-Free by 2018, 90% Renewable by 2025—Now these are some goals I can get behind. Imagine if the U.S. said that we wanted to be 90% renewable in ten years?

Coca-Cola-Funded Scientists Say Overweight Americans Are Too Worried About What They Are Eating—The “crap food industry” has been pushing the line that exercise is the reason people in the Western world are increasingly obese, but the reality is that our diets are to blame for our round midsections. How stupid does Coca-Cola believe that we are?

Mmm, Beer: Brewers Are on a Quest to Breed a Better Hop—This is perhaps the best line about beer and wine drinkers that I have read in a long time:

Hopheads are embracing diversity,” says Myles. “Wine snobs are viticultural racists.

Friday Linkage 7/24/2015

RAGBRAI has invaded my home area this week. Hiawatha is infested with thousands of human-bicycle centaurs who have spent the better part of a week hunting for cold cans of Natty Light, warm showers, and a dry place to pitch a tent for the night. It is time for me to get out of town.

On to the links…

This Is How The World’s Climate Changed Last Year—Climate is global and weather is local. This is what climate deniers fail to recognize or admit. Just because it snows in your state does not mean that the global average is colder.

Swamp Power: How the World’s Wetlands can Help Stop Climate Change—Wetlands are an unsung powerhouse in the global environment. Too often we view these landscapes as “garbage” land to be drained and built upon.

200 Coal Plants Announced to Retire since 2010 in US!—Coal plants are not being built or being shut down and converted to cleaner fuels. The end is nigh.

Offshore Wind To Become Cost-Competitive With Gas In 5 Years—Think about cost competitive offshore wind being deployed on the sea shore near the massive U.S. population along the eastern seaboard. It’s a huge opportunity to put renewable power in the hands of a large number of people and retire old dirty power plants.

Two Giant Israeli Solar Plants Will Soon Provide Nearly 2 Percent Of The Country’s Electricity—If there is a country that is acutely aware of how precarious situation it is vis a vis fossil fuels it has to be Israel. Most of the countries that provide fossil fuels in the Middle East are not big fans of the country.

When Schools Serve Pizza and Corn Dogs for Lunch, These Companies Make Bank—If you want to know why school lunches are empires of suck follow the money. When companies make billions off of a program—it’s not welfare when large companies get government money—they will figure out a way to squeeze out each penny possible. If that means kids eat corn dogs and chocolate milk, so be it.

Algae Could Be Environmentally Friendly Livestock Feed, Research Finds—Algae is a potential gold mine for fuel oil, chemicals, and other industrial uses but it could also be a rich source of feed for livestock. It’s full of protein and oil, which are the things that animals raise for meat need. You can question the lunacy of raising millions of animals for meat, but feeding them algae would be better than feeding them corn or soybeans.

Organic Farming is Actually Worse for Climate Change than Conventional Farming—Headlines and stories like these fail to take into account the totality of the issues facing agriculture. It’s one thing to compare issues in a vacuum, but farming and agriculture do not occur in a vacuum. Externalities and downstream impacts are hugely important, but it is difficult to place scientific estimates on some of those issues.