Tag Archives: Treehugger

Friday Linkage 2/17/2017

Is this what it looks like from the inside of a failed state?  The current president cannot go a day without an unforced error blowing up in his face, leaks are rampant, confidantes are completely off message, and the orange master of ceremonies cannot let the smallest slight go unnoticed.  Is it the sign of a completely unhinged personality to respond via Twitter to every perceived challenge to his authority?

On to the links…

Coal-Fired Electricity is at its Lowest since Officials Started Keeping Track—Natural gas and cheap renewables are killing coal.  No one wants to live downwind from a coal plant and the death spiral is on.

The West’s Coal Giant is Going Down—You would be hard pressed to find a more controversial symbol of the coal industrial complex than the Navajo Generating Station, a giant coal fired power plant in Arizona.  With decades of life left in its boilers, its operator is scheduling the beast for shutdown in 2019.  This is a coal plant that burns upwards of 24,000 tons of coal per day.

Wind Energy is Setting Records in the U.S. and Around the World—Wind is cheap, a lot of people work in the industry, and even Republicans are behind the sector as they realize the political suicide of condemning something so popular.  The future may not be as bright, but there is potential for hope.

New North American Wind Power Record Set In Central United States—Over 50% of the electricity served came from wind. Yes it was overnight, but it’s a start.
China Doubled Its Solar Capacity In 2016—No matter what the base, doubling the capacity of anything is a big deal.  There are a lot of problems with China—one party state, authoritarian rule, etc.—but when they decide to go for something, solar in this case, they go big.

U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year—China is not the only one to go big on solar.  We were yuge!

Low Carbon Technologies Now Cost-Competitive With Fossil Fuels—Low carbon technologies are basically mainstream.  Right wing reactionaries can try and stop the flood, but it is over.

5 Possible Futures for the EPA under Trump—This assumes that the Trump administration is not a flaming crater of incompetence by the end of March.

The United States of Oil and Gas—There are some amazing images that show the pervasiveness of oil and gas in our lives.

To Save The Planet, Give Cows Better Pasture—Managing productive rangeland for grazing may be on the lowest hanging fruit we have for helping to mitigate the near term impacts of climate change.

Outdoor Rec Industry Defends Public Lands—Outdoor recreation is a huge—sorry yuge—economic activity that needs to be taken into account when changes to our public lands policy are proposed.  Your elected representatives need to understand the value that you place on these lands.  The companies you patronize need to be reminded of the value that you place on these lands.  The time is now.

This Heatless Habanero Packs All Of The Flavor With None Of The Burn—I am really intrigued by this idea.  Bringing the flavor of a pepper without the heat might convert some of my family members.

The Best Trick for Cutting Down on Sugar—After getting some exercise there is no better or bigger change you can make in terms of your health than cutting down or eliminating added sugar from your diet.

Friday Linkage 12/16/2016

Is Donald Trump just trolling America now with his picks?  The Scott Pruitt choice was bad, but Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy is just ridiculous.  Rick Perry literally does not know what the Department of Energy does.  Most of the people claiming he will do a good job talk about his coming from an oil and gas state.  Never mind that oil and gas exploitation falls under other federal agencies and the Department of Energy actually spends most of its time and budget on nuclear responsibilities.  Maybe we will get a return of George W. Bush’s interesting pronunciation of nuclear.

On to the links…

Full Levelized Cost of Electricity In the United States by County—This is an amazing interactive map that lets you play with assumptions about cost, tax incentives, etc. to see at what the lowest LCOE of various electricity generation methods would be by county.  I am surprised that nuclear is able to be competitive in any of these scenarios.

If Trump Wants to Dismantle Obama’s EPA Rules, Here are all the Obstacles He’ll Face—Given the makeup of the cabinet and its glaring lack of experience in public service, I cannot wait to see them whine, moan, and bitch that government does not operate like their personal business fiefdoms.  No shit Sherlock, there is a reason that government does not work like a private business…it’s not a private business.

Solar Capacity has Increased 99% since Last Quarter—Maybe the best thing I have heard in a while: “The industry is booming, and President Trump will be hard-pressed to stop it.”

White House Releases Strategy for Deep Decarbonization by 2050—Save this document because we are about to spend four years without such vision.  We are far more likely to see reports about how we can make America great again by being big league and classy and yuge.

The End of the Commonwealth—The gilded age has returned and the crony capitalists have swept into power.  Populism was co-opted to allow for a takeover by wealthy elites.  The “blue collar billionaire” who criticized his opponent for giving speeches to Goldman Sachs has tapped former employees of the bank for key positions and even nominated the CEO of the most reviled oil company to be Secretary of State.  Our government is at the service of a very few very rich people.

Without These Ads, There Wouldn’t be Money in Fake News—The dictum “follow the money” has always been true.  Without the ability to garner revenue from clicks, fake news would be a gnat’s ass.

Renewables Produce 56% Of Denmark’s Domestic Electricity—The U.S. is unlikely to be leading a lot in this area for the next few years, so we need to take solace in the world making progress.

Solar Panels have been Benefiting the Climate ‘since 2011’—The carbon debt has been paid.

Your Hobby Is Action, Not Accumulation—I used to be so guilty of this when it came to books.  I read a lot, but I still acquired books like crazy.  It became more about a good looking library as opposed to actually reading and accumulating knowledge.  At what point do the things we own begin to own us?

I Love Meat. But these New “Bleeding” Veggie Burgers Convinced Me to Give it up for Good.—These burgers are only available in limited markets right now, but I cannot wait to try them once availability increases to more markets.  Now, if they could tackle the whole veggie bacon thing we would be cooking so to speak.

Homeopathic “Drugs” Will Have to Carry Disclaimers That They Are Bunk—Finally.  Homeopathic drugs are just ridiculous.  It’s like the snake oil salesmen of yesteryear were allowed to continue peddling patent medications without any repurcussions.

First Industrial Hemp Seeds Certified by Colorado Department of Agriculture—The “Green Rush” hype in Colorado has focused on the recreational smoking aspect of marijuana legalization, but there has been a steady increase in the interest of farmers and industry to exploit industrial—e.g. non-psychoactive—hemp as an alternative crop.

Degrowth Is Punk as F*ck—Maybe this is the answer.

Friday Linkage 12/2/2016

It’s December.  The snowpack is slow to build—damn you climate change—but there is hope that by the holidays lots of terrain in the mountains will be open for skiing and riding.  We still live in Trumplandia.  However, it is important to remember that there are still many good things in this world to celebrate amidst the doom and gloom.  It is also critically important to remember that we need to fight the agenda of man who got over two million fewer votes than his opponent and a man from Wisconsin who wants to roll back the safety net to resemble some sort of Ayn Rand wet dream.

On to the links…

Under Trump, NASA May Turn a Blind Eye to Climate Change—The thing that scares me the most about the next few years is that there is going to a chilling effect on scientific inquiry through the executive and legislative branches use of their budgeting and bullying powers.  The House may not end up holding hearings on Trump’s many conflicts of interest, but I am almost certain that scientists will be dragged before committees to testify about science by people with no knowledge of science.

Outdoor Industry will be Added to the Calculus of the US GDP—Inclusion in this calculation will allow for the outdoor industry to make the same claims to job creation at the national level like other industries.  It is a major win because it gives the industry additional clout when lobbying for legislation.

These 6 Unexpected Countries Are Going Renewable—Despite what happens in the United States over the course of the next two years—I am hoping for some electoral retribution related to an extreme right wing agenda spearheaded by Paul Ryan—the world is moving forward with a clean energy revolution.

What Happened To Germany’s Energy Transformation?—The answer is…nothing.  It is happening.  It just happens to be maturing as would be expected.  In 2015 the entire country generated more than 31% of its electricity from renewables and policies are in place to get to 45% by the middle of the next decade.  Even if growth stops it is not like solar panels and wind turbines stop producing clean electricity.  The demand destruction for fossil fuels has already occurred.

Yet Another Country, and Two Huge Utilities, Finished with Coal—Here is why coal is dead.  No one wants to use the stuff except for ass clowns like Don Blankenship…oh wait, he’s just a convicted criminal living in a hilltop mansion now instead of a coal company baron.

Want to See Why Trump will Struggle to Save the Coal Industry? Look at Michigan.—The real answer to the question is that Donald Trump has no idea how to “save” the coal industry and he has no intention of actually trying to reemploy coal miners.  He cares about himself, first and foremost, with fellow billionaires, assuming he is actually a billionaire before raping the United States from the Oval Office, coming in a distant second.

From Peak Oil to Peak Oil Demand in Just Nine Years—Oh my, how times change.

Have We Reached Peak Gasoline?—As EVs, plug-in hybrids, and more efficient vehicles proliferate combined with fewer miles driven per person the demand for gasoline has to stagnate at some level.  At what point does this stagnation begin to destabilize the fundamental economics of gasoline refining?

Copenhagen Now has More Bikes than Cars—Copenhagen is a dream city for many people.  It can also serve as a model for many urban centers.  It is not a place of ideal mild climate, yet pedal power is becoming the dominant mode of transportation through policy encouragement.

The Colossal African Solar Farm that Could Power Europe—It has been a dream of Europeans for many years to develop massive solar farms in sunny North Africa where land is plentiful for transmission back to Europe.  Maybe now that idea is coming to fruition.

University of Minnesota Study Identifies Key Culprits in Cropland Greenhouse Emissions—Rather than try to tackle all of the sources of greenhouse gasses, why don’t we try and lock up the 60 to 70% of bad actors that will return a great deal of “bang for the buck?”

Canada Just Took a Big Step Toward Banning a Nasty Pesticide—The rest of the world will march on and the United States will stagnate under Trump.  What we can hope for is that a tide of anger will sweep our sclerotic political culture aside, much like the progressives did, and enact truly forward thinking legislation.

Scientists Discover Why Diet Coke Is Probably Undermining You—File this under the “You Can’t Fool Your Body and Expect Positive Results” heading.  Just another reason to stop buying water, which makes up something like 99% of a bottle of diet soda, in disposable plastic bottles.

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 8/28/2015

I encountered one of the most disheartening sounds in the world this week. On an aborted bike ride my tire made the noise of a full on blow out. This is not the gentle hiss of a pinch flat or a small puncture, but the full throated blast of air and the realization that you are walking home. Why walking? Because the tread area on my well-worn Kenda Kwicks was torn through. Whatever I ran across was bad news.

On to the links…

Here’s What Happens When you Try to Replicate Climate Contrarian Papers—Let me spoil the punch line: you can’t replicate the results.

Shocking: Prominent Climate Denier gets Money from Big Coal—Shocking? Not so much. Christopher Horner is a paid shill of the fossil fuel industry. Anything that comes out of his mouth is little more than coal stained propaganda.

The Incredible Shrinking Mineral: How It Went from King Coal to Coal Kills—If I was confident I would start playing “Taps.” Coal is not dead yet, but with continued pressure and an unfavorable market the dirty fuel may be in its final death spiral.

NYC Rooftops Could Host 11 GW of High-Yield Solar ProjectsMapdwell’s work on modelling what solar could do in eastern cities is some pretty amazing work. Think about 11 GW of solar power in America’s largest city. Now multiply that across other major cities in the U.S. like Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on.

California’s 40 Years Of Energy Efficiency Efforts Have Saved $90 Billion In Utility Costs—California has been a leader in trying to get people to use less electricity and it has worked. Furthermore, those efforts have trickled out—not trickle down because I do not believe in voodoo environmentalism—to the rest of the nation due to California’s sheer market heft.

Here’s Where The Rubber Hits The Road (Natural Guayule Rubber — Updated)—Apparently, rubber is a big import for the United States and we have been looking for a domestic alternative since before World War II. It also looks like guayule—a shrub that is drought and pest tolerant—could provide a significant offset to our imported rubber habit. Interesting.

New Study Finds Horse and Beaver in Grocery Store Ground Meat—As if you needed another reason to stay away from the case of ground beef at your local grocery store—pink slime anyone?—along comes the knowledge that we may actually be eating horse or beaver. Freaking beaver?

Salad Seems Really Virtuous, Right? It’s Not.—Salad, it turns out, is really just leafy green water. By the time we pick a few leaves out of that plastic clamshell most of the nutrition is gone. Never mind the fact that people end up throwing away tons of salad greens every year. Just go with the frozen peas.

Butter In Your Coffee and Other Cons: Stories From a Fitness Insider—I am really glad that people are calling bullshit on the people behind so-called Bulletproof coffee and food fads. If someone is trying to sell you something it is high time to get a move on. It’s probably bullshit.

28 Historic Photos of Yosemite to Celebrate its 125th Anniversary—Sometimes we forget to appreciate the amazing places we can visit right here in the U.S. Take a moment and appreciate the sheer awesomeness of Yosemite.

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:

UMTRI-90-years-MPG-data.png.650x0_q70_crop-smart

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 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.