Tag Archives: toxic

Friday Linkage 5/16/2014

So, every time you hear a proponent of Keystone XL talk about the safety of oil pipelines witness the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale. In the wee hours of Thursday morning a pipeline burst sending tens of thousands of crude into the city streets. Yep, great safety record for those pipelines.

On to the links…

America’s Oil And Gas Industry Averaged At Least 20 Spills Per Day In 2013—Think about that average for a moment. It is stunning. There is no such thing as truly safe oil and gas drilling and transportation. It is inherently susceptible to spills and accidents.

This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise—It looks like I am safe in eastern Iowa, but large portions of very populous cities in the U.S. are not so lucky.

Slow Exit of the Midwest’s Winter Buries Gardens in a Deep Freeze—The past winter was brutal and as those of us in the Midwest take stock in the spring it is not any prettier. At the moment I am down two trees, three butterfly bushes, and a shrub. Plus, the plants that did survive are slow to leaf out and bloom.

The Toxic Brew in Our Yards—It is a spring and summer ritual where I live to see the chemical trucks spraying lawns and leaving little signs that might as well say, “Toxic waste dump. Stay off the grass!”

How Large-Scale Solar Power Can Reduce Pressure On Farm Land—Just some interesting ideas about how to marry large scale solar with other land use. Anything that moves solar PV forward is a good thing in my book.

Pakistan’s First Solar Project Is One Of The World’s Largest—Damn, this is a big solar project. When a country like Pakistan is getting on board with solar you know that things are happening for the technology.

Germany Sets New Record, Generating 74 Percent Of Power Needs From Renewable Energy—Hot damn that is impressive. Just take a moment and think about what that would mean if every country were as committed to large scale renewables. Pretty sight indeed.

A Whale And A Cruise Ship Collided In New York Harbor—I kind of wondered about this possibility the one time I took a cruise. These boats are massive and there is no way for these boats to avoid whales if they cross paths. Ugh.


Friday Linkage 8/9/2013

You know the worst part about being busy with work and family?  You get a moment to breathe and you kind of realize all of the stuff you want to get done, but you really just want to lay down for a nap.  No one told me about this part of getting older.

On to the links…

Some Prosciutto Fans Turn to Iowa—I am so glad to see the great people behind La Querica getting some national press.  Here is a company in Iowa producing knock down outstanding prosciutto.  I buy it whenever I get the chance because it is a genuine delicacy.

‘Frack Gag’ Bans Children From Talking About Fracking, Forever—Does this seem a little over the top?  If there is “nothing to hide” like fracking proponents tell everyone within earshot, why are the companies doing the fracking going out of their way to restrict the speech of minors in perpetuity?  Just asking.

Life in a Toxic Country—China is messed up when it comes to pollution.  Regardless of what the government says the air, water, and soil is so contaminated with a devil’s brew of pollutants that it is going to cripple the country eventually.  It’s already playing out like a dystopian young adult novel.

Solar Could Provide One-Third of Western U.S. Electricity by 2050—Dig it.  Choose the right renewables for each region and you end up with a very compelling argument to deploy even more renewables.  I am not going to push solar as the answer in Iowa because we rock at deploying wind power.

Time Lapse Map Shows Growth of U.S. Wind Power—Craziness.  In 1992 there was enough windpower online to power ~315K homes.  By 2012 there was enough to power 15M homes.

Wind Energy Prices Hit Lowest Level In 8 Years As Industry Explodes—It does not matter that the federal government cannot get its act together or that ALEC is trying its hardest to get renewable energy standards rolled back, wind energy is on a roll.  The thing that bums me out is how far behind China we are in total installations.  That is just un-American.

Arizona’s Biggest Utility Wants to Tax Solar—You know that utilities are worried when they start asking utility commissions to enact taxes.  Everyone hates taxes, right?  So, everyone should hate something being taxed, right?  I don’t know if the Grover Norquist-esque logic will hold.  Check out the picture of the solar PV arrays in the article’s picture.  Those things are sweet.

Cuba is Finally Embracing Solar Power—It’s good to see Cuba breaking free of its usually centralized method of doing everything for a distributed model.  Not being reliant on imported oil, gas, and coal is also a good thing for an island nation that has a hard currency problem.

Recycling’s ‘Final Frontier’: The Composting of Food Waste—I do not get why composting of organic waste is such a non-starter for so many communities or individuals.  The end product is great for so many uses and the diversion of organics from the waste stream is a huge benefit to municipal waste systems.

Your Go-To Guide for Choosing Healthier Grains—The Greatist has produced an awesome infographic that helps you choose between amaranth and kamut:

Your Go-To Guide for Choosing Healthier Grains

Groundwork Laid, Growers Turn to Hemp in Colorado—Here’s to hoping that industrial hemp gets a fair shake.  My guess is that some people will rush in, the infrastructure to support processing will not be mature, and the first generation of proponents will wash out fairly fast.  It’s the second generation you have to watch out for.

Friday Linkage 5/24/2013

Do you ever get so busy that by the time you get to the weekend it feels like two or three weeks have gone by because so much has been happening?  I am in that mode right now.

On to the links…

Say Hello to the 100 Trillion Germs that are Your Friends—If you have read Michael Pollan’s Cooked the content of this article will be familiar.  Needless to say, we have so little idea about the microbiology of the organisms that cohabit with us.  Our ignorance is stunning.

Bear Bile Farming Brings Charges of Cruelty—Why is it that every time someone mentions a detestable animal industry based upon some folk curative the culprit is China?  Bear bile is just the latest in a long string of odd folk medicines that have become hyper popular now that the country is industrializing.  It’s just sad.

Solar Printer can Make 33 Feet of Solar Cells per Minute—Damn, a machine like this is impressive.  Just imagine watching a machine crank out 33 feet of solar cells every minute for hours on end.  At that rate you could start putting inexpensive solar cells on everything.  Wait a second…

The True Cost of Gasoline: Memorial Day Driving by the Numbers—I take a lot of satisfaction knowing that on most of these driving-centric holidays like Memorial Day or Thanksgiving that I am usually at home enjoying peace and quiet instead of fighting it out on the highways.  Ugh!

What are the Stats on Car Recycling—Infographic time baby!  And just in time for the Memorial Day holiday driving extravaganza:


Long Beach to Get Induction Charging for Buses—I have seen articles about this technology being developed, but this is the first time I have read about it being deployed across a transit system.  We do not need to have the same solution for all our transportation needs.  This is the type of solution that is perfect for the intended use.

Greek Yogurt’s Dark Side—I am not a yogurt person, but I see people buying Greek yogurt in quantities that I cannot ever remember people buying regular yogurt before.  It’s amazing.  For a while I thought that Chobani and Fage were putting crack in those little plastic cups.  Alas, the dark side of the Greek yogurt boom is not illicit drugs but, rather, a waste byproduct.  So sad…

DIY Smartphone Charger for $5—As I read about disasters the one thing people mention is that they had a hard time connecting because their phones lost power.  The network was up and running, but their personal node was down for want of a little battery life.  I was prepped to spend some decent coin on a charger, but then I saw this DIY solution.

5 Ways Urine Could Help Save Humanity—I do not know if our pee can save our species, but we need to stop looking at things in terms of waste when there is really a resource.

Mountain of Oil Sands Waste Rises in Detroit—Basically, no one wants the stuff save for the Chinese who will burn anything for a kilowatt.  Is there a good story about the development of tar sands?

High Plains Aquifer Dwindles—Run and get your copy of Cadillac Desert of the shelf.  Why?  Because the dwindling of aquifers and dire consequences discussed in that book years ago are coming to a head.

Behold…the Power of Vinegar

I refuse to use toxic petro chemicals on my lawn and garden.  Why?  It’s like conducting chemical warfare close to home.

But what is a guy to do when he has pulled a weed in the garden a dozen times and each time the weed comes back stronger.  These are the weeds that taunt you with deep roots that threaten to break and spread their virulence even further afield.  These are the weeds that grow spikes or secrete chemicals to attack the skin of the person attempting a cultural control.

It would be so easy to reach into modern chemistry’s basket of nasty and pull out a spray bottle of some cousin of Agent Orange.

Plain old white vinegar is the answer.  Sure, you could use some artisanal vinegar distilled from the tears of fairies but I am going to my trusty gallon jug of distilled white vinegar that costs less than $2 at the grocery store.  Pour some in a spray bottle and apply liberally to your favorite weeds.

I do not know what the concentration of the vinegar I used was, but I am assuming it is pretty average because it’s just normal household vinegar.  Higher or lower concentrations may have differing results.

Here is what the offending weed looked like a few days after the last time I pulled it:

By the next day it was already wilting under the power of vinegar:

By the fourth…well, it’s a tough weed but this is a foregone conclusion:

One downside is that perennial weeds may regrow as vinegar does not damage the root system of the weed.  However, repeated application and proper mulching should banish the weed without too much continued effort.

Apparently, you can also mix in some common dish soap to increase the effectiveness of the vinegar herbicide.  This is something that I will try in the future, but I am happy with the performance of straight vinegar in killing weeds.

All of this can be accomplished using a non-toxic item in almost everyone’s pantry.  Why exactly do we need the quiver of toxic unpronounceables?