Tag Archives: Treehugger

Friday Linkage 11/1/2019

It’s a white Halloween…

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Two days of measurable snow accumulation by October 31st.  Weird.

On to the links…

Offshore Windfarms ‘Can Provide More Electricity than the World Needs’This is some change that I can believe in.  How do we make the transition to offshore wind happen faster?

7 Ways Hurricane Sandy Started a Tidal Wave of ResilienceIt took New York City and a chunk of the eastern seaboard getting walloped for people to pay attention to resilience as a way to protect coastal communities and ecosystems, but it is a start.

‘Grand African Savannah Green Up’: Major $85 Million Project Announced to Scale up Agroforestry in AfricaIf only a portion of the projected benefits are realized this is a major victory.  As big as $85 million sounds, it is truly a drop in the bucket in a world where the US spends more than $2 billion a day on defense related accounts.

‘Green Gold’ Tree Offers Brazil Deforestation HopeWe must repair the damage caused by modern society.  Plant these trees now. Plant as many as possible. What is the downside?

The White House Wants Climate Change Off the G7 Agenda. It Doesn’t Really Work That Way.In Donald Trump’s world, Donnie Two Scoops gets what Donnie Two Scoops wants. Rules, decorum, whatever be damned.  It will be interesting to see how he handles a hostile impeachment process as the revelations of his administration’s misdeeds become common knowledge.  Then again this is a man who has a lawyer insist that the president is above the law.

Trump’s Public Lands Chief Wrote For A Cult Extremist’s MagazineThe Trump administration is so messed up and hurting for warm bodies that people aligned with Lyndon LaRouche are getting government posts.

4 Out of 5 EU Coal Plants Are Losing MoneyThe market has spoken and now the effort to phase out coal will run into the nasty business of politics.

Moody’s Sees “Significant” Drops In Powder River Basin Coal ProductionIt’s called a death spiral for a reason.  One company declares bankruptcy. This in turn raised the cost of capital for the existing coal companies.  This in turn caused their prices to rise. This in turn causes utilities and consumers to look at cheaper energy.  This in turn causes another coal company to declare bankruptcy.  

Murray Energy Is 8th Coal Company in a Year to Seek BankruptcyYou better believe that Robert Murray, the Dr. Evil facsimile who pals around with Donald Trump, will find a way to screw the American taxpayer through this bankruptcy.  My guess is that he will pay himself millions, vacate any pension or medical obligations, and find a way to dump clean up costs on the governments where these mines operate.

Kentucky’s Leaders Are Siding With the Coal Industry, and Its Poorest Residents Are Paying a PriceCoal companies have never cared about the people who mine coal or the land from which they mine coal.  They only care about money. The unholy alliance of Trump, coal company CEOs, and regular miners is coming to an end as everyone sees the fraud that is the blue collar billionaire and his corrupt cronies.

World’s Largest Storage Battery — 2.5 GWh — To Replace Gas Peaker Plants In QueensNo one wants a peaker plant in their neighborhood, but a battery can sit in a commercial building or the basement of a residential building just waiting to be deployed to smooth out the differences in supply versus demand on the grid.

No-Gold Perovskite Solar Cells Aim A Dagger At The Heart Of Fossil FuelsNuclear power was supposed to be too cheap to meter, but it looks like solar photovoltaic may actually get to that point if developments in perovskite solar cells can be commercialized.  

A $60,000 Solar Project, with No Money Down: A Colorado Program Helps Businesses Finance Renewable Energy ProjectsIf you hate solar power than a program like this should scare the living shit out of you.  Every panel that gets deployed is demand that is not coming back to the grid.

Heat (The Elephant In The Room)The path to deep decarbonization has to address our desire for heat.  Whether it is to heat our homes or the water with which we bathe this demand for heat drives demand for energy.  A lot of that energy is provided by fossil fuels.

‘Chocogedden’ is Fast ApproachingClimate change is coming for all of the foods that we love.  Maybe we should just get used to subsisting on soylent like “foods.”

It’s Time to Ban Filters on CigarettesThis was my father’s wish.  As a former smoker who occasionally lapsed in his middle age he felt that filters were a way to make people feel like smoking was not as bad for them as was the case.  And he hated the butts being thrown everywhere.

Friday Linkage 7/19/2019

July has really come out swinging with hot weather.  It came in hot and dry and now we get hot and humid.  In reality, I do not know which one I prefer or, rather, hate less.

There is something pernicious about hot and dry weather in a place accustomed to a certain level of moisture.  Here in eastern Iowa plants began to go dormant and things get all crinkly as it dries out.  This is not western Colorado where the plants are adapted to this kind of weather.  It was somewhat of a relief when some drenching rains happened over the past few days and the green returned.

On to the links…

Are We Having Too Much Fun?—I remember a discussion I had with an Iranian ex-patriate who was studying at the University of Minnesota when I was an undergraduate at the Minneapolis campus.  He said that his biggest problem with American society was that we trivialized everything until, at seemingly random intervals, something began to matter.  It did not make sense to him.  It does not make sense to me when put that way.

The Life-Changing Magic of Making Do—Barring some major external event—depression, war, etc.—I doubt that we will ever embrace a relationship with our stuff that is fundamentally different versus today’s paradigm.  However, it is something to strive for on an individual level and hope for the best.

America’s Addiction to Absurdly Fast Shipping has a Hidden Cost—Our addiction to stuff is just a problem.  Why do we feel the need to buy so much stuff?  When did shopping become an activity in and of itself?

Workers with Short or ‘Active’ Commutes are Happier Campers—From the land of “obvious conclusions from studies that did not need to be conducted” comes this gem.  Spend a week in a long commute and you will understand why shorter commutes make for happier people.

US Energy-Related CO2 Emissions Expected to Fall this Year, Almost Solely Due to a Drop in Coal Use—So, how do we drive coal to zero?  More solar.  More wind.  More energy efficiency.  It is not a complicated blueprint.

Fiscal Collapse of Coal Towns Increasingly Likely, New Research Shows—States like Wyoming, which is reliant on coal dollars, are going to have to deal with the reckoning of coal’s collapse sooner rather than later.  These declines usually happen in a stair step, as opposed to linear pattern, as major suppliers are driven out of business and no one steps in to resume operation.

The Game-Changing Spark Iowa’s Solar Industry Needs Could be in Louisa County—We have a lot of wind power built out in Iowa and more is on the way.  Solar could be the next big buildout that pushes Iowa to a nearly carbon free electricity grid.

Minnesota Utilities Weigh Energy Storage as Substitute for Peaker Plants—We are now reaching a point when renewable energy storage, through a variety of mechanisms, is considered a viable alternative to conventional natural gas “peaker” plants.

Fossil Fuels Increasingly Offer a Poor Return on Energy Investment—The economics are turning against fossil fuels.

Former Rick Perry Staffer Raises Six-Figures for Trump’s Reelection Campaign—Donald Trump’s presidency is the best thing that money can buy for the energy industry.

Government Watchdog Fears EPA’s New Climate Scientists Are Not Vetted And Have Conflicts of Interest—I will save everyone the effort: anyone who goes to work in the Trump administration is likely to have not been vetted, probably lacks credible experience, and is riven with conflicts of interest.

Scotland Generated Enough Wind Energy to Power its Homes Twice—There was a time when pundits said that renewable energy could never power more than 5% of the grid.  Then it became 10% and has been revised upward ever since.  Now places like Scotland are generating more power from renewables than needed.

Can Mass Timber Reform Construction’s Carbon Footprint?—Combined with a program of extensive reforestation I believe that mass timber can be the construction method of the future carbon neutral world.

This Colorado Ranch-Made-Lab is Turning Beetle-Kill Trees into Lumber in the Name of Forest Health—Trinchera Blanca Ranch is a living, breathing example of how regenerative ecology can work.

Jump Aboard the eDumper, the World’s Largest Electric Vehicle—Most of us think of Tesla Model 3s or Nissan Leafs when we think of EVs, but maybe we should think of something like the eDumper?

The Humble Pea is America’s Favorite New Crop—One of the upsides to products like the Impossible Burger is that there is a growing demand in the marketplace for peas, which can supplant commodity crops like corn and soybeans.

Clothing You Don’t Have to Wash, Explained—Is this really a good idea?

San Francisco: Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless are Bad for Environment—We have really reached peak California with this NIMBYism.  At what point do we just call out California for the hypocrisy that permeates everything?

Friday Linkage 4/26/2019

Steve King, the white supremacist representative from northwest Iowa, is not a man of faith.  He uses his so-called faith as a shield for his vile beliefs and his lack of a record in Congress.  He is not like Jesus Christ, but he will waste no time in making the comparison if he thinks it will help him get elected.

This is the same strain of “faith” that allows people like Michele Bachmann to claim that Donald Trump is “godly.”

It is the same strain of “faith” that allows hucksters like Jerry Falwell Jr. to claim that Donald Trump can do no wrong in his eyes.

It is not faith.  It is naked lust for power.

On to the links…

Interior Department Watchdog Opens Ethics Probe Into 6 Agency Officials—Repeat after me, “This is the most corrupt administration in the history of the United States.”

This GIF Captures Just How Gigantic the U.S. Carbon Footprint Is—It’s kind of alarming to see this play out.

There’s an Amazingly Simple, Beautiful Way to Fix Midwestern Farmlands—This is the most impactful potential change I have seen proposed and it makes so much sense.  For too long the modus operandi has been to encourage farmers, at their own economic risk, to plant as much acreage as possible. What if the solution is to maximize the efficiency of capital relative to planted acreage?

10 Ways to Accelerate Progress Against Climate Change—We know what we can do in the near term to accelerate the fight against climate change.  None of these actions require breakthroughs in technology.  It just requires political will.

7 Things We’ve Learned about Earth since the Last Earth Day—Knowledge is power.

How America’s ‘Tree-to-Toilet Pipeline’ is Destroying Forests—We are literally wiping our asses with boreal forest.  There is a better way.

Eco-Friendly Solid Could Replace Conventional Refrigerants—No one talks about the damage refrigerants can cause because we think we beat this beast in the 1990s with bans on certain CFCs.  Nope and in a world where air conditioning becomes more prevalent the damage will be greater.

Could Hawaii Be Paradise For Hydrogen-Powered Public Transit?—Hawaii is our energy laboratory.  The hydrogen economy never really got off the ground because it was just a better idea to feed renewable energy into the grid instead of converting it to hydrogen and dealing with the attendant losses.  However, what if you have too much renewable energy at certain times?  Now it makes sense to think about hydrogen as a chemical battery of sorts.

The Problem with Online Shopping—I think the article could have stopped at the “problem with online” and answered a lot of questions.  The most frightening passage in the article is this:

Consumption has reached an all-time high in the United States. In 2017, people spent $240 billion on random stuff like clothes, shoes, phones, books, and toys – double what was spent in 2002, despite the population growing by only 13 percent.

What the hell?

Why You Should Join the ‘Do Nothing’ Club—Maybe we should all aspire to be Peter Gibbons.

Back to Earth: Washington Set to Allow ‘Human Composting’—Ashes to ashes and dust to dust…yeah, this is the way I want my family to deal with my mortal remains in the end.

Friday Linkage 3/29/2019

Spring is here.  Sure, Iowa may see a few more nights below freezing but for the most part it is on to planting and cleaning.  So much cleaning.  If only there was a way to KonMarie my yard work.

On to the links…

2 Years after Tax Bill’s Passage, Corporate Tax Revenue has Plummeted—Cue Republicans to tell us how we cannot afford Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the defense budget…oh wait, not the defense budget…because the deficits are a threat to our national security.

Recording Reveals Oil Executives Laughing About “Unprecedented Access” to Trump—It’s a pay for play day in the White House every day.

BP Lobbied Trump Administration to Roll Back Key US Climate Rules—Nothing like a foreign company getting cozy with our corrupt president to influence policy in favor of profits over protecting American citizens.  The Republican way…profits over people.

US Banks Pledged to Fund Renewable Energy, But They Still Spend Way More on Fossil Fuels—Banks are nothing more than the financial arm of the same many tentacled beast that also concerns fossil fuels.  It is one system that protects itself at all costs.

US Coal Generation Expected To Continue Steady Decline, Claims EIA—Trump cannot save coal.  He can bluster and bully all he wants but the economics and politics do not line up in such a way to make this a winnable fight.  Now, he will probably double down on claims that he is the most pro-coal president in history in a lame attempt to shore up support in rural areas.

It’s Cheaper to Replace Most Coal Plants with Renewables than Keep Them Open—This is why coal is in so much trouble.  For less money you can generate electricity that has none of coal’s baggage.  It’s like a death cross in finance.

Forget Tesla, It’s China’s E-Buses That Are Denting Oil Demand—China is all in on electric busses.  Personal EVs may get a lot of the press around the world but the humble electric bus may actually hold more of the secret to our climate salvation.  This is the critical point:

Buses matter more because of their size and constant use. For every 1,000 electric buses on the road, 500 barrels of diesel are displaced each day, BloombergNEF estimates. By comparison, 1,000 battery electric vehicles remove just 15 barrels of oil demand.

Missouri Greenlights Massive New Wind Power Transmission Project—To get wind energy from windy rural America to urban America we need more transmission lines.  It tells you everything that you need to know when red states will fight electricity transmission lines but go gangbusters for oil and gas pipelines.

Scientists Found Worrisome New Evidence About Roundup and Cancer—Remember, this is the pesticide that is sprayed indiscriminately on Roundup Ready crops like corn and soybeans.  If you live in a corn or soybean producing state you have been exposed.

Climate Change Is Already Reshaping How We Farm—Rural areas are on the front lines of climate change because so many of these areas depend on agriculture.  Farmers are already having to adapt to climate change whether politicians in Washington D.C. want to admit it or not.

Impossible Burger 2.0 Produces 89% Less Emissions than Beef—I have had the Impossible Burger 1.0 and it is a pretty damn good facsimile of an actual beef patty.  The 2.0 version is supposed to be an even closer facsimile.  Now imagine a world where we replace all meat hamburgers with Impossible Burgers.  What would that look like from an emissions reduction perspective?

Friday Linkage 2/15/2019

It’s not a polar vortex in February, but for some reason I would take the cold temperatures over what we have had the past two weeks.  How does an inch or so of ice that gets topped off with nearly a foot of snow and capped with a little wintry mix?  Add in the drifting from 40 mile per hour winds and temperatures that swing thirty degrees in a twenty four hour period.  That is what February has been like so far in eastern Iowa.

Now you know why I am dreaming of spring.

On to the links…

Uniquely American’: Senate Passes Landmark Bill to Enlarge National Parks—Good things can happen.  This is an unalloyed win for advocates of public lands.  Granted, it still requires a signature from individual number 1 but I have to imagine that even he is inclined to go with the flow on this.

What’s Missing from the Green New Deal—I think that the most important thing is that we are having a conversation about the Green New Deal.  Could you imagine this happening just two years ago following Trump’s “victory” and the ascension of a completely Republican controlled Washington D.C.?  Nope.

Priorities: Where Do You Start with the Green New Deal?—If it were me, I would start with a nationwide reforestation effort focused on degraded lands.  It could be lands impacted by mining in Appalachia, beetle kill in Colorado, and wildfire in California.

Is Renewables’ Production Tax Credit Bullet Proof?—I have to imagine that in this political climate the production tax credit for renewables is going to get renewed past 2020.  Some red state Republicans support the PTC and Democrats are in favor, so the odds are favorable.

Trump Administration will try to Exempt Specialty Bulbs from Energy Efficiency Standards—Of course the Trump administration will try to roll back new energy efficiency standards.  Try is the operative word.  BTW, can we just kill the Edison bulb trend?

USDA says Filler once Known as ‘Pink Slime’ can be Labeled Ground Beef—Of course the USDA would allow pink slime to be labelled as ground beef.  It is like we live in a dystopia where the president feeds visitors to the White House fast food…oh shit, we do live in Idiocracy now.  Damn.

China is polluting California’s air—Pollution is both local and global.  The air may be horrible in China and India, but those same pollutants will impact other countries.  Even countries an ocean away.  Just because we have outsourced our pollution does not mean that we have avoided our pollution.

Coal Developers Take Note: Climate Change Killed This Coal Mine—Climate change is real and people are really starting to take notice.  If a judge uses this as a reason to stop coal development we may have finally turned a corner.

War on Plastics May Stunt Oil Demand Growth Projections—Take a look at the chart:

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Thirty six percent of the demand for plastic is for packaging.  Buy less stuff to save money and reduce the demand for disposable plastic.

Another Way To Power Electric Cars: “Refillable Technology”—Flow batteries and related technologies, which this particular article deals with, seem like a great way to get around the problem of quickly charging EVs.  I wonder if there is a way to get the best of both worlds.  Make an EV that you charge at home most days, but have the option of refilling with charged electrolyte when on a trip far from home.

How EV HVAC Use Impacts Range Much More Than Extreme Temps—If there is a negative article about EVs you can bet the press is going to pounce.  Here is the thing, even with reduced range an EV will handle your daily commute.  Why is this even a story anymore?  And another thing, where were the articles about traditional ICE cars not being able to start in the polar vortex?

California to Transition to 100 Percent Electric Buses by 2040—Why can’t we make this a goal for 2030?  If transitioning 12,000 busses is the equivalent of 4 million cars we should be all over this effort.

Bottle Recycling in Oregon Hits 90 Percent Record High—I live in a state with a bottle deposit law and it works.  I imagine that if we adopted a nationwide ten cents per bottle deposit law that recycling rates for cans and bottles would increase accordingly.

How Big-Box Stores Bilk Local Governments—Here is why our governments—local, state, and federal—do not have the money to implement programs people care about: businesses have manipulated the tax code with loopholes to avoid paying any tax.

Solar Jobs Climb in Iowa—Most of the news around solar in the U.S. has been a downer lately as the Trump tariffs have bitten the industry.  However, Iowa solar jobs were up which is a good thing.

Friday Linkage 2/1/2019

It is February, it is freaking cold, and nothing seems to be going right anywhere.  Oh wait, the long awaited third entry in the Bill & Ted cycle may be coming to theaters before the end of the year.  Most excellent.  It would be a not heinous way to end 2019.

Wyld Stallyns may be forced to face the music, so we can hope that other people in our world—fictional or otherwise—will have to answer for their misdeeds in 2019.

Be excellent to each other!  Party on dudes!

On to the links…

The Trump Administration has Lost More than 90 Percent of its Court Battles Over Reregulation—For all the sound and fury of the Trump administration over the past two years—has it really been that long—most of the deregulation efforts have failed to pass legal muster.

Democrats Want Answers about the Interior Department’s Decisions During the Shutdown—Wow, another scandal at the Department of the Interior.  This is my surprised face:

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US Plug-In Electric Car Sales Charted: December 2018—Check out the market share:

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Last year and the year before it could not crack 2% total market share.  This year total EV sales went above 3% in the latter part of the year.  When does the tipping point occur?

The Biggest Returns—Imagine if there was a way to produce a dollar of economic activity without damaging the planet.  Oh wait, we call it energy efficiency.  The greenest source of energy is the energy you never need to produce.

Texas Grid Is Now 30% Carbon-Free, Led By Wind—Big red state Texas, actually increasingly purplish, is also a big time state for renewables.

Report says Offshore Wind could Beat Onshore Wind on Cost—Imagine the Atlantic seaboard getting on board with offshore wind.  Or the Gulf of Mexico, with an already established industry of offshore specialists, deploying offshore wind rather than drilling for oil. Now, imagine that offshore wind energy is cheap.

Supermarket Cuts Emissions 53%, Offsets Rest—Grocery stores seem like such an easy target for energy efficiency.  Just imagine the average dairy section in an average American grocery store.  What do you see?  I am guessing that it has refrigerated cases open to the ambient air.  Why?  Just one example of how we can do so much better without really sacrificing our way of life.

Are Cargo Bikes the Future for Urban Deliveries?—The future?  In some places this is the present.  Bikes are the best solution for delivery of the last mile in denser environments.  Let’s see…no pollution, no noise, small footprint…yeah, pretty much awesome.

The Zero-Waste Movement is Coming for your Garbage—Zero waste is a good goal.  Here is the better goal: Buy less stuff.  Just a reminder, if a company is telling you how green their packaging is it probably means that they are trying to assuage your green guilt and encourage you to buy more.

Eco-Friendly Options for Decluttering Waste—Decluttering is a thing right now.  Blame Netflix and Marie Kondo.  It was popular when she had a book, but now that people can binge watch a show it is a cultural phenomenon.  I just hope that we are finding appropriate places for all of this stuff being tossed out of homes.

Friday Linkage 1/18/2019

This our hellish reality:

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Yes, Donald Trump presided over a cold fast food “feast” for the visiting Clemson Tigers football team that recently won the supposed national championship.  Imagine, for just a moment, the blood vessels that Sean Hannity would have blown had President Obama deigned to have a table full of fast food available for a visiting sports team.  Just imagine the outrage.  Just imagine…

At least Chicago’s Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea, is stepping up to show the Clemson Tigers what a real celebration should look like.

I have always wanted a “hamberder:”

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We cannot make this stuff up anymore.  The best response that I saw to all of this was someone saying that these pictures look like the scene where a time traveler realizes that she has messed things up royally.

On to the links…

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?—The worst case scenario is what we are trying to avoid.  The question is by how much do we miss global catastrophe?

How Much can Forests Fight Climate Change?—The benefits of forests may be oversold by some, but what harm is there in trying to save the forests that we have and reforest the land that we have logged?

A Coal Baron’s Takeover of the EPA Is Nearly Complete—Robert Murray is the dime store villain of climate change.  He grabbed on to Donald Trump harder than anyone not named Vladimir Putin and made him his Manchurian candidate for coal.  It is the duty of Congress to see that America does not become a coal fired hellscape.

How Trump’s EPA is Letting Environmental Criminals Off the Hook, in One Chart—This is what “law and order” looks like under a lawless administration:

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Indiana Utility to Quit Coal and Cut CO2 90% within 10 Years—Even with Trump in office and the EPA doing everything it can to unwind regulations coal is in a death spiral.  This news comes from Indiana which gave us Mike Pence and “Mother.”

Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted—This is a problem for oil and natural gas companies because their “proven reserves” are based on decline curves that may be too optimistic.

Air Travel is Surging. That’s a Huge Problem for the Climate.—Air travel is bad for the climate.  Period.

The Mortgage Industry isn’t Ready for a Foreclosure Crisis Created by Climate Change—Why do I have a feeling that Florida is going to be “ground zero” for the first foreclosure crisis caused by climate change?  I just envision empty and destroyed condos in Miami.

Iowa ‘Ag-Gag’ Law Banning Undercover Farm Investigations Ruled Unconstitutional—I am certain that this is not the last that we have heard on this issue, but it is a good sign that corporations will not be able to silence individuals.  Since the 1980s business has ruled and gotten every advantage possible codified by a compliant government.  I am hopeful that the pendulum is swinging back in favor of the rights of the individual.

Coming To America In 2019 — Compliance Cars Only—I do not know if the headline is quite true, but it does seem like the United States is an afterthought when it comes to electric vehicles save for Tesla.  Now, we are the land of big ass trucks with little purpose for being—this comes from the owner of a recently long term garaged Ford F-150—where EVs are seen as a “hippie thing”—this comes from someone who bought a used Nissan Leaf.

The Surprising Impact of Paper Receipts—This is one of those things that just surprises me.

The Era Of Easy Recycling May Be Coming To An End—We cannot just think that dumping our trash—which is what a lot of single stream recycling ends up becoming—into a blue bin magically makes it environmentally friendly.  This trash could have value, but Western civilization—to use Steve King’s vernacular—is too lazy to do a better job of sorting things.

What to Do With All Your Stuff That Doesn’t ‘Spark Joy’—It is not just about getting rid of your stuff, but getting rid of your stuff in a way that can allow others to benefit.

Big Dairy Is About to Flood America’s School Lunches With Milk—Dude, the United States produce way too much milk:

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Why do we produce so much milk if we are not drinking so much milk?

We Could End Factory Farming this Century—We can only hope.

No More War, Pestilence, & Poverty: How Renewable Energy Will Alter The Global Geopolitical Calculus—This is one of those hopeful ideas that you just hope come to pass.  Imagine a world where we stop fighting over resources.  Wow!