Tag Archives: Treehugger

Friday Linkage 12/7/2018

France and Paris, in particular, are burning because of a protest movement that started off being about fuel taxes but has morphed into something more.  The anger seen in the streets was sparked by a tax but it represents a question about who the modern state serves.

As we have seen in the United States, time and time again, the state is designed to serve the interests of its most privileged citizens at the expense of everyone else.  Don’t believe me?  Look at tax cuts.  Most of the benefits go to the richest 1%.  Sure, those are the people that make the most money so it stands to reason that they would benefit the most.  However, in order to pay for these gifts to the rich everyone else is asked to take a cut in what the state may provide them.  Food stamps?  Sorry, gotta’ get Bezos his tax cut.  Pell grants?  Sorry, Zuckerberg needs to buy another house.

On to the links…

China Is Both the Best and Worst Hope for Clean Energy—This is the world we live in now as the U.S. has ceded leadership of any kind on global issues because of…reasons?  Europe is a mess which threatens to devolve into its preferred path toward fascism.  So, we are left looking to China.  This is problematic.

Almost Half Coal Power Plants Seen Unprofitable to Operate—Well, I can raise a solar panel or eight to that news.

Wall Street Cleans up on ‘Clean Coal’—What are the odds this scam program gets renewed?  I am guessing 100% because what Goldman Sachs wants, Goldman Sachs gets.

The Most Important Country for the Global Climate no one is Talking About—Deforestation is like the “eat your vegetables” of the climate change action plans.  Everyone likes to talk about coal, renewables, electric cars, etc. but the single biggest thing we could do today would be to stop deforestation.

This New NASA Mission Will Create an Unprecedented, 3D Map of Earth’s Forests—It is hard to save the trees if you do not know where the trees are located.

Video Games Consume More Electricity Than 25 Power Plants Can Produce—At what point do we realize that modern life is just one big energy suck?

THE BIG PICTURE: Wind Turbine Trends—Here is the punch line: Bigger and more powerful.  See for yourself:

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How the Food Industry Uses Big Tobacco Tactics to Manipulate the Public—Here’s a public service announcement: Most of the stuff in the grocery store with an ingredient list more than three items long is not good for you.

How the Indigenous Bison Bar was Appropriated—Big food is stealth.  It is incumbent upon you, the consumer, to be educated and make the right choice.

Altria in Talks to Buy Cannabis Company Cronos Group—This is the moment when you know that the legalization of cannabis in the United States is coming.  Altria would not put its money into a market if it thought that federal prohibition was long for this world.

NRA Cuts More Operating Costs—and Lavishes Executives With Perks—This is what collapse looks like.  An organization faced with dwindling resources lavishes its grandees with perks in a final orgy of greed.  This could not happen to a nicer bunch of a-holes.

Amateur Scuba Divers Train to be “Ghost Net Busters”—Ghost nets are a big problem.  I am happy to see people taking the initiative to be part of the solution, but there needs to be some form of regulation that outlaws this kind of dumping.  Think like a deposit system.

Millennials are Killing Canned Tuna, but the Industry is Fighting Back—Dude, can we quit it with all the stuff millennials are supposed to be killing?  Baby boomers do not get blamed for all the stuff they killed, like the planet.

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Friday Linkage 10/5/2018

A little light on the links this first week of October.  I think almost everyone has been glued to the circus that is the Trump administration.

On to the links…

Chuck Grassley Plans to Take Trump’s Federal Farm Bailout Cash, Calls it ‘Equal Treatment’—Nothing says fiscal responsibility like making sure you get your bailout cash from an unnecessary trade spat.  Where was Chuck Grassley when homeowners were taken advantage of by mortgage lenders in the mid-2000s?  Where was Chuck Grassley when people lost their homes to illegal foreclosures?  People in Iowa would elect the corpse of Chuck Grassley.

Trump’s Plan to Scrap Mercury Regulations Won’t Save Coal But It Will Cost Lives—This is America under Trump.  It is a hellscape of increased deadly emissions from ageing power plants propped up by government largesse to line the pockets of a few coal barons.

Trump Administration, EPA say Radiation is Good for You—It is getting downright Orwellian.

U.S. Power Producers’ Coal Consumption Falls to 35-year Low—Every new solar photovoltaic array and wind turbine that I see is another shovel of dirt on the grave of coal.  If we can weather the interminable Trump storm of the next couple of years we can truly put the United States on a clean power path.

Germany’s Coal Habit Proves Hard to Kick—Germany wanted to transition away from coal and to renewables.  The problem with this plan was that Germany also wanted to eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy as well.

Banks turn their Back on Coal amid Emissions Concerns—Modern commerce runs on credit.  If banks are unwilling to lend most schemes are incapable of operating at any scale.  This is bad for coal and good for the planet.

China to Add 259 GW of Coal Capacity, Satellite Imagery Shows—This is bad.

Our Fertilizer Is Killing Us. Here’s A Fix.—Synthetic fertilizer has allowed for billions of people to escape famine.  It is also one of the drivers of bad global impacts like dead zones.

More than 1 in 3 Americans Eat Fast Food on a Typical Day, and We Eat it All Day Long—Is our fast food consumption a cause of our modern problems or is it a symptom?  Do we eat fast food because our modern lives do not allow enough time or flexibility to eat actual food?  Or, do we eat fast food because it taps into some primordial desire for salt, sugar, and fat?  Either way, it is bad for us all.

14 Food Waste Facts That Might Change The Way You Cook, Shop, And Eat—I believe that in order to get our planet right, we need to first get our households right.  The first step to get our households right is to fix our kitchens.  Victory is in the kitchen.

Friday Linkage 8/24/2018

I came back from London to a world where “Truth isn’t truth.”  Maybe so, but felony convictions and guilty pleas are pretty much fact.

I thought that we had reached peak semantic games when Bill Clinton tried to debate what the meaning of the word is was under a given context, but Donald Trump and his minions have come along to upset the entire apple cart of human decency.

We now live in a country and, maybe, a world where a large segment of the population does not believe in objective truth unless supported by Sean Hannity and Alex Jones—who, by the way, tried to argue in a custody case that he was a “performance artist” and therefore his speech was “art.”  You get the idea.

On to the links…

Trump Administration Scraps Plan To Sell Land Cut From Utah Monument—It is all a grift.  Everything these criminals do is in support of the con to loot the American public of every last nickel and dime before the authorities finally start actually locking people up.

Ryan Zinke Would ‘Sell His Grandkids For Big Oil,’ Says Washington Governor—Jay Inslee forgot uranium mining and coal mining and mineral extraction…

Trump Administration Hit With 7 Major Environmental Setbacks In Court In Past Week—Granted, the impact of this administration will be felt for decades as Republicans in Congress have finally decided to fill long empty court seats because they like a white guy picking judges as opposed to a black guy.  If you think their reticence to confirm Obama’s nominees has anything to do with anything other than naked racism you are delusional.

Trump’s Attacks on Public Lands Could Help the Democrats in These States—Surprise, surprise…people in western states like public lands and understand when a politician is just shilling for the oil and gas industries.

Talk About “Losing Money” — US Shale Gas Will Crash … Hard—This is not a really bold prediction for anyone who has followed the boom and bust cycle of the U.S. oil industry for the past fifty or so years.  Remember Denver in the late 1980s?  No one really does because the crash turned the city into a ghost town.

New 9.8 Megawatt Solar Farm In Gallup, New Mexico, Will Save City $785,000 In First 8 Years—Keep pushing coal Donny Two Scoops.  Meanwhile, the rest of the world will move to cheaper and cleaner sources of energy.

Bitcoin’s Annual Carbon Footprint Is Equal to One Million Transatlantic Flights—I admittedly do not really understand bitcoin, but the carbon footprint is out of control.

The Conflict of Interest That Is Killing Recycling—It is the fox guarding the hen house.  Landfill operators and trash haulers want to pick up rubbish and dump it in a landfill.  That is where they make their money.  Recycling is just something that municipalities have burdened them with and they are failing to make the entire endeavor work.

New York’s Push to End Inequality Extends to Garbage—Environmental justice is social justice.  The story of garbage collection and transfer in New York City is the story of how rich people or, at the very least, not poor people have paid to have their trash sent to places where the residents did not have the money and/or clout to prevent the operation of transfer stations.

Report Finds Traces of a Controversial Herbicide in Cheerios and Quaker Oats—Who does not want a little Roundup in their breakfast cereal?  Seriously, we need to stop indiscriminately spraying chemicals on our land.  It is wrong.

Piles of Peer Reviewed Research Show How Bad Cooking with Gas is for Your Health—I have always been a fan of a smooth top electric range because of how easy the top is to clean, but now it looks like I was making a healthy choice as well.  I have always kind of wondered about the wisdom of having an open flame burning in my kitchen.

In Praise of the Dumb Box—I don’t know if calling it the dumb box is the right idea.  Simple.  Austere.  Nordic?  For every “starcitecht’s” whack ass vision in curves and angles there is a basic box doing yeoman’s work housing people.  We tend to actually like basic boxes because it provides us actual space to put our touch on things rather than living in a prefab module.

Norway Has A Radical Approach To Plastic Pollution, And It’s Working—On top of dealing with climate change, we need to deal with the scourge of plastic pollution.  Maybe the Norwegians have figured something out.

Indian Man has Planted a Tree Every Day for 40-Years and Now has a Thriving Forest Larger than Central Park—Maybe we should all just wake up tomorrow and plant a tree.  Turn off the news, put down the phone, and plant a tree.

Friday Linkage 4/27/2018

The weather has finally turned here in eastern Iowa and it feels like spring.  What is really important is that several days in a row of solid sunshine means my solar panels are producing mad wicked power.

On to the links…

The Global Crisis of Plastic Pollution—This is the environmental crisis that I believe we can unite disparate groups behind to create an eco-consensus.  Who can argue, in any legitimate and coherent way, that we should not strive to have oceans free from plastic pollution?

Plastic Pollution Now Being Found In Arctic Ice Sheet—Nothing is pristine anymore because we are the worst species on the planet.  We just trash everything without regard for the consequences or the future of anyone but our immediate selves.

The GOP House’s Farm Bill Would Gut a Key Conservation Program—Get ready for some of the right wing’s worst ideas to come out in the form of the gestating farm bill.  SNAP benefits?  Probably cut a lot.  Conservation?  That is communist, pinko, hippie shit according to the GOP.  Subsidies for big agriculture?  ‘Merica!

EPA Proposal would let States Relax Coal Plant Pollution Rules—This is the kind of crap you get with Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA. It also shows the importance of removing coal fired power from our grid.  Without the need to burn coal there would be no coal ash and thus no need to dispose of coal ash.

Wind, Solar Provide 98 Percent of New US Generating Capacity in January and February—Basically, no one added any new fossil fuel generation to the mix.

US Wind Energy Now Supplies More Than 30% In Four States—Four red states—Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota—get a lot of electricity from wind power.  These are fairly “red” states in the political parlance.  I also think it is interesting that 14 states are generation 10% or more of their electricity from the wind.  Weren’t renewables supposed to be incapable of providing a substantial amount of energy?

The Gloves Are Off: $105 Million Greenbacks For US Solar Energy Industry—Trump, Scott Pruitt, and Rick Perry may hate renewable energy but even the retro-grouch luddites in control of Congress see the value in renewable energy for producing clean power, jobs, and a general boost to the economy.

Linn County Receives Gold Designation from SolSmart for Solar Energy—The part that made me laugh is that this program is run by the Department of Energy headed by Rick Perry.  Do you even think he knows that there is a program that recognizes municipalities for creating environments helpful to deploying solar energy?  My guess is not.

Cost, Schmost! Energy Dept. Touts Coal-Killing Atlantic Offshore Wind—Yes, Rick Perry’s Department of Energy has published a report promoting offshore wind as a cost effective renewable energy solution.  Are we living in bizarre world right now?

The UK Just Went 55 Hours Without Using Coal for the First Time—The United Kingdom is probably the one country most associated with coal due to the Industrial Revolution and what not.  For that country to have gone more than two days without burning coal to make electricity is a major step.

Crunch Time For Renewable Energy In Southern California—A municipality is asking for industry to present solutions to a problem that is going to be vexing a lot of other municipalities in the coming decades.  Can renewable energy be deployed in such a way to take the place of ageing and expensive fossil fuel assets?  Can renewable energy plus storage provide baseload like power for cities?

The Latest State to get Serious about Climate Change is … New Jersey?—If we retire all of our nuclear plants than renewable energy will just be deployed to replace energy that was not producing carbon emissions already.  This type of plan, in of all places New Jersey, might serve as a template as we bridge to a future energy paradigm.

Electric Buses Are Hurting the Oil Industry—I say forget incentives to deploy EVs for personal automobiles.  Drop every one of those dollars into incentives for cities to deploy electric buses, garbage trucks, and other high mileage heavy duty vehicles.

Bitcoin mining is using as much power as 5,699,560 American households.—Can we just stop the cryptocurrency madness?  The model is ripe with potential for scammers as witnessed by every initial coin offering that seems to pop up daily.  The underlying value of the cryptocurrency is even more nebulous than our regular paper currency.  And the energy used to “mine” cryptocurrencies is outrageous.

Mass Timber is in for Massive Change—Wood is good.  Mass timber might be better.  Given the climate change implications of concrete—huge source of greenhouse gasses if you did not already know—mass timber construction could be the better choice for building increasingly dense communities.

Study: The Greenest States in the U.S.—How does your state rank?

Friday Linkage 9/22/2017

It is officially fall.  It is time to get the skis out and waxed for the upcoming season.  It is time to fully embrace “sweater weather” and pumpkin spice whatever…oh wait, it is ninety degrees in eastern Iowa today.  Damn, I guess summer is not going to release its satanic grip quite yet.

On to the links…

Key Stories for Understanding the Monuments Memo—Get ready for the great environmental legal battle when Trump actually takes these recommendations and moves forward with bad policy.  Like spoiled brats and bullies the Trump administration is acting reflexively against anything that they do not like regardless of the consequences.

These Companies Support the Paris Agreement. They Also Support Climate Deniers.—I do not care what you say publicly.  If you support climate denial in any way you are part of the problem regardless of what you do with your other corporate efforts.  It would be better to do nothing at all than to secretly support these scam artists who are obfuscating the most important challenge of our time.

Cedar Rapids says They’re Seeing More Residents Go Solar in Linn County—I did not participate in this program when I had a solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof, but it is exciting to see that there is a lot of interest out there in going solar.  Every system is like a little dagger into the black heart of coal.

US Celebrates Record 29% Drop In Utility-Scale Solar Costs — But Tariff Cloud Looms—Everyone claims to love a free market right up until the moment that it impacts their pocketbook.  Solar prices have gotten so low so fast because of globalization.

Why Wind and Solar Won’t Save Us—Reducing demand should be the primary focus, but once we have reduced demand producing clean energy to satisfy what remains is imperative.

Trump’s ‘No Friend’ of Clean Energy. Here are 3 Reasons to Invest Anyway—The investment community does not care about the politics anymore.  They see clean energy as a sound investment going forward.  Given the cost curves and public sentiment you have to wonder how long coal can hang on.

The Solar Boom In The Middle East—The Middle East is a perfect and odd place for solar to be successful.  It is sunny and there is a lot of open space, but it is also blessed with cheap fossil fuels.

Tesla Powerwall 2: An In-Depth Review—Changes in behavior are always interesting.  As someone who wants to generate all his electricity needs from the sixteen panels on the my roof I can tell you that since I have installed my solar system I think twice about using the air conditioner, which is the last remaining major discretionary electrical appliance in my home.

Regenerative Solutions for the Future of Humanity—It is not enough to preserve what we have not destroyed.  We need to regenerate what we have degraded if we are to live a fulfilling life as a species on this planet.

Friday Linkage 8/25/2017

You can be sure that wind power is a big deal in your state when the image of a wind turbine is placed on the state’s license plate:

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On to the links…

What Exxon Mobil Didn’t Say About Climate Change—It appears that Exxon Mobil conducted a campaign of deliberate disinformation with regard to climate change.  This was an act that was counter to even their own internal scientists and experts.  If true, and the evidence appears to show just such veracity, it represents one of the most egregious acts of corporate malfeasance in the modern era.

How 139 Countries Could be Powered by 100 Percent Wind, Water, and Solar Energy by 2050—This is the blueprint for the future:

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Fines for Illegal Pollution Plummet under Trump—It’s not just a matter of changing laws, but also of enforcing existing laws.  Trump and his cronies are likely to just let things slide for their friends who like to pollute and sicken Americans.

Trump Thinks Clean Coal is When Workers Mine Coal and then Actually ‘Clean It’—There has never been a person occupying the big chair in the White House with such an absolute disregard for actual knowledge.  Trump seems to be going out of his way to act like a biggest doofus in Washington D.C., which is an accompolishment in a town shared by Louis Gohmert and Steve King.

Coal Plants Might Be Even More Toxic Than We Thought—As if you needed another reason to push for clean power.  When coal plants are literally producing a new chemical compound that is making people sick you have to wonder about the sanity of anyone who would fight to the death to keep burning coal.

In Solar Scuffle, Big Utilities Meet Their Match—Surprise, surprise…people want their solar power and they want it now.

This Is The Future Of Electricity Pricing—As we build out renewable energy we need to create incentives and systems to match that supply with relevant demand.

Global Solar Capacity Set to Surpass Nuclear for the First Time—We came for nuclear and we are coming for coal.  Solar power is the real deal.

India Added More Renewable Energy Than Thermal Power 4 Consecutive Quarters—Renewable energy has conquered the “India price” and it is showing.

Muscatine, Iowa Looks to Turn Food Waste into Fuel—What would it take to site these types of facilities in towns across the country?  Food and yard waste could be collected and turned into energy.  Seems like a winning deal to me.

Can We Feed The World With Farmed Fish?—Just because we might be able to do so does not mean that we should.  It’s one thing when we are raising native catfish in freshwater ponds in Alabama.  It’s quite another thing when we are raising non-native Atlantic salmon near Seattle.

Growing Concern: Organic Farms Need a New Generation to Keep Them Alive—Maybe millennials will give up living in Brooklyn, Austin, and Portland for a life in the country all “Green Acres” style.  Nah, farming is actual work.  So much better to be a YouTube celebrity or Instagram influencer.

Organic Farmers Sprouting up Across Iowa—Maybe the problem is more of a California thing as it seems like Iowa has people willing to take on the organic farming challenge.  Granted, the odds someone in Iowa knows an actual farmer are probably higher than in California so the career choice is not so alien.

California has a Climate Problem, and Its Name is Cars—It’s not just a problem in California, but for the nation as a whole.  If we cannot or will not address the impact of our transportation choices it may not matter what else we do.

Why We Should be More Materialistic—Materialism is different than consumerism, but I am guessing that the subtlety will be lost on most people.

Goodwill is ‘Overrun’ with Stuff Millennials and Gen Xers Refuse to Take from their Parents—I have cleaned out two houses and one condo for relatives who have passed away.  I do not know why these relatives were saving all of this stuff, but a lot of it just ended up getting tossed.  Some stuff got sold, some stuff got taken, some stuff got donated, but most of it went to the dump.

Rich Kids’ Grades are Rising Faster, and Intelligence Probably Isn’t the Reason Why—This pisses me off more than you would guess.  I have spent a lifetime—okay, 39 years—hearing about the meritocracy of higher education.  Guess what?  The game is rigged in favor of the rich.  Always has been.

We Conservatives Champion Local Power. So We Must Respect the Rights of “Blue” Cities.—Right wingers love local control and states’ rights as long as it is in their interest.  Just like they are all about religious freedom as long as it is Christianity.

Friday Linkage 7/7/2017

Altitude really kicked my rear end last week.  I normally have no trouble travelling to the high Rockies and partaking in all manner of activities with just a day or so of acclimation.  This trip I struggled mightily until the final day.

What this means is that my quest to hike a 14er is on hold until next year.  On a warm up hike near Breckenridge I barely got to 12,000 feet and felt like dirt the next day.  I hope that this is not a harbinger for my physical condition during ski season.

On to the links…

Court Rejects Temporary Block to the Methane Rule—This is the best that we can hope for right now with the current political leadership in Washington D.C.   Thankfully these hacks do not understand that there is a process in place to manage the rules making process.  Incompetence on the part of Donald Trump and his allies is our greatest source of hope right now.

Improved Representation of Solar Variability in Climate Models—The models of climate change keep getting better with more data, but the climate deniers keep yelling louder.  At what point do we put climate deniers in the same room as perpetual motion machine hucksters, flat Earth proponents, and John Birch Society members?

The Energy Secretary Is Wrong: The Grid is Ready for Renewables—The energy secretary is wrong.  Get used to saying that as long as Rick Perry is holding that position.  Do you remember when Ernest Moniz was in that position and statements were made with a deliberate foundation in good science?  Yeah, not so much anymore.

Even as Renewables Increase, Fossil Fuels Continue to Dominate U.S. Energy Mix—There is a long way to go:

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Check out the decline in coal.

Renewable Energy Generates More Than 25% Of UK Electricity In 1st Quarter—The United Kingdom has now had multiple quarters where renewables have accounted for more than 25% of electricity generation.  The future is now.

Johnson County Adding to Solar Grid—The same guys who are putting in my solar system, Moxie Solar, are contracted to build this 75.5 kWh array.  This is in addition to existing 85.8 kWh and 159.6 kWh arrays nearby.  Why aren’t all large buildings taking advantage of solar?

Study Shows That Electric Cars Could Help Kill the Duck Curve—The “duck curve” is one of the most pernicious problems with respect to renewable energy production and grid demand.  When the sun is shining and the wind is blowing are not the same times that residential demand peaks.  Hence, a curve that looks like a duck.  EVs could provide an energy storage solution that could help smooth the duck.

The Chevy Bolt & The Tesla Model 3: The Solar-Powered Restoration of American Energy Independence—Are mass market EVs and cheap renewables, which are finally available to consumers in a broad based manner, representative of a turning point?  I hope so.

Here’s A Huge Reason Why We Need Electric Trucks—Check out this GIF and tell me that electric semis are not the future:

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Oil Got Trounced And Solar Soared In The First Half—Only two of the top 50 oil and gas producers had a positive return on stock in the first half of 2017.  Renewable producers did much better.  When the markets turn on you there are few places to hide.

McDonald’s Brings Foam Cups Back to Chicago Despite Shareholder Pressure—This is such a blast from the past.  I remember the push to get McDonald’s to get rid of foam clamshells as one of my formative moments in environmental awareness.  Be nice, it was the 1980s.

7 Reasons to Rant about Fireworks—After decades of banning fireworks, Iowa’s legislature led by freedom loving Republicans pushed a bill to legalize fireworks because…’Merica?  It is the worst.  The actual July 4th holiday was reminiscent of a war movie with an acrid haze hanging over our neighborhood and explosions throughout the night.  Why?