Tag Archives: trees

Friday Linkage 4/3/2020

We are al alumni of Zoom University it seems at this point.

Seriously, why do some trolls feel the need to “zoombomb” the meetings were are conducting online?

That’s right, because even in the middle of a national crisis racist trolls are going to do the things that racist trolls will do.

Stay safe out there.

On to the links…

If The Virus Can Decimate Global Economies So Can Climate Change—All of the bad impacts of coronavirus are strikingly similar to the bad impacts of climate change except we cannot create a vaccine or therapeutic treatments for climate change.

Coyotes are Being Seen on the Empty Streets of San Francisco—It did not take long for the animals to decide to start taking over.

Oceans Can be Restored to Former Glory within 30 Years, Say Scientists—If the past few weeks have shown us anything it is that one of the most powerful things we can do as a species is to get out of the way of nature.  It will find a way to heal and rebalance.

Wildlife Charity Plans to Buy UK Land to Give it Back to Nature—Take this idea and spread it across the globe.  Pockets of rewilded nature everywhere.  Start to link those pockets and stitch them together with existing “wilderness.”  That sounds like a plan.

The EPA Appears to be Using Coronavirus to Make Huge Concessions to Polluters—Remember, Republicans used to be all about “law and order.”  Now, this usually means locking up people who cannot fight back with lawyers and lobbyists.  So, in the current world if you are a big company or a white collar criminal the laws do not actually apply to you.  Let the crime spree begin.

Federal Judge Tosses Dakota Access Pipeline Permits, Orders Full Environmental Review—I am almost certain that the Trump administration will try and ignore this ruling because they truly are the best administration that money can buy when it come to fossil fuels.

The Closure of Colorado Coal-Fired Powerplants is Freeing up Water for Thirsty Cities—The dirty little secret of fossil fuels is just how much water it takes to produce and use fossil fuels.  Now your calculus of closing down a power plant could include the financial benefit of selling water rights to a municipality.  Solar power never looked so good in Colorado.

Last Coal-Fired Generating Plants Closing In UK & New York—The end is near for coal in the UK and New York.

The Inevitable Collapse Of Global Oil Production—Global oil demand is expected to crash by more than 20% in April/May.  Can we find a way through where none of that production comes back online?

Fossil Fuel Industry Looks to Profit With Plastics—The oil and gas industry are finding it increasingly hard to make money selling fossil fuels for transportation and energy.  The key to their long term profitability and, thus, survivability is to pivot into making more plastic and chemicals.  If there was ever a reason to go plastic free this is it.

Solar Fuel: Yep, It’s A Genuine Artificial Leaf—The scary thing for oil and gas companies looking to make plastics and chemicals is that there are renewable ways to do the exact same thing.  Feedstock is feedstock whether it comes from a well in the ground or the sunshine hitting the Earth.

Scientists Find Bug that Feasts on Toxic Plastic—Imagine bio-reactors filled with this bacterium munching away on our generations worth of waste plastic.

Report Reveals ‘Massive Plastic Pollution Footprint’ of Drinks Firms—How about we just stop buying beverages in disposable plastic containers?

GCL Plans To Invest $2.5 Billion In World’s Largest Solar Panel Factory—60 gigawatts of annual solar panel production is monstrous.  Like half of the world’s annual demand monstrous.  If you ware a fossil fuel player, watch out.

This Company Wants to Turn Your Windows into Solar Panels—I have seen these kinds of announcements before and nothing ever seems to come of it.  Maybe this time is different.

Revealed: Monsanto Predicted Crop System Would Damage US Farms—The companies that produce these chemicals knew that their products would cause harm and they did not care because they stood to make billions of dollars.  If you think politicians care about farmers ask them to stop taking money from companies like Bayer.

Designing an End to a Toxic American Obsession: The Lawn—Let 2020 be the year that we kill the American lawn as we know it.  No more bags of fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides spread indiscriminately in the pursuit of an unnatural monoculture.

For Skiers, There’s a Contaminant Underfoot—The pursuit of the gnar does not mean that we have to pollute the food web of alpine environments.  One time base coats are an option.  So are more environmentally ski wax products like mountainFLOW eco-wax.

The Secret to Curbing Farm Emissions is Buried in the Stone Age—It seems like every solution that is proposed to help alleviate carbon emissions is about rediscovering a gentler way of conducting the business of being human.

Is Fake Meat Getting too Much like the Real Thing?—This is kind of the point. No one wants to go back to the dark days of veggie burgers that tasted like stale quinoa and dry black beans.

Friday Linkage 3/27/2020

Please stay safe out there.

If you do not have to go out, do not go out.

Wash your damn hands.

Hold your family members tight, call your parents, and remember what is important.

Also, turn off the news.  Listening to these people talk all day long is not doing anyone any favors right now.  Our collective mental health depends upon it.

On to the links…

‘Nature is taking back Venice’: Wildlife Returns to Tourist-Free City—Nature will find a way, right?  Your move Mr. Goldblum.

With Humans in Lockdown, Animals Flourish—I was so hoping that the drunken elephants story was true.

One Root Cause of Pandemics Few People Think About—The market’s desire for meat drives companies to throw caution to the wind and raise ever increasing numbers of animals within close proximity of one another where diseases can spread.  A quick hop, skip, and jump away to humans is all it takes to put us into the situation we find ourselves in today.

How Will The Coronavirus Affect Energy Use In America?—Will there be any long-term systematic changes or will things bounce back to pre-COVID-19 norms?

Why Rich People Use so Much More Energy—If there is one thing that COVID-19 is going to show us it is that the frivolous travel of the richest portion of the global population is unnecessary and indefensible.

Four Federal Policies Could Help Offshore Wind Jump Start Our Coronavirus Economic Recovery—Who wants to make a bet that rather than looking forward Donald Trump and his cronies in the U.S. Senate will propose policies that benefit fossil fuels?  Furthermore, these policy proposals will be framed as the path to get America out of the forthcoming recession.  Takers?

Big Wins Expected for Offshore Wind Over Next Decade—We can hope so.  Imagine thousands of megawatts of offshore wind just miles away from the large population of the eastern seaboard?

The $638 Billion Cost Of Keeping Coal Alive—If you are in charge of a utility that is building coal fired electrical capacity you are costing your ratepayers money.  This situation will only get worse as communities reject coal fired power plants because of pollution and climate change impacts.

Wyoming Coal Interests Funneled Money, Experts to Influence Colorado PUC Decision on Closing Parts of Pueblo Plant—Nothing like a lot of out of state money flooding in to influence an issue and still failing.  Wyoming has to try everything it can to keep coal viable because the state’s economy is so dependent upon coal mining.  Without coal Wyoming is West Virginia with better skiing.

Siemens Receives First Order For Battery-Powered Trains—The idea here is not to have the entire journey be conducted on battery power alone, but to use the battery as a bridge between electrified sections of track.

The Pros and Cons of Planting Trees to Address Global Warming—I understand the idea of balance in reporting, but do we really see a lot of downsides to planting a lot trees?  Furthermore, are those downsides really all that bad?

How will Tree Planting Help the UK meet its Climate Goals?—Mistakes will be made and the end result may not be as carbon “negative” as projected, but what is the real downside to trying if the right species of tree is planted in the right ecosystem?

A Vision for Agriculture—We know how to raise animals in a way that does not poison our air, land, and water.  It is not a question of knowledge, but one of will.

Dentists Under Pressure to Drill ‘Healthy Teeth’ for Profit, Former Insiders Allege—As if COVID-19 has not shown the flaws in America’s for profit health system perhaps you need a reminder why it is not a good idea to have private equity or hedge funds determining care plans.

Friday Linkage 1/31/2020

It is hard to believe that the end of January is here which means…the Iowa caucuses are on Monday.  I will be out to caucus Monday night and I cannot wait to see what the results are once all the counting is done.

As scary as the idea of another four years of Donald Trump is to me and just about every American with half an ounce of sense, there is something exciting about Democratic candidates for president actually talking about progressive ideas for once.  Too often Democratic candidates play this game of tilting right wing ideas a little leftward and calling it a day.  Clinton’s “welfare reform” and Obama’s healthcare reform come to mind.

Regardless of who wins the nomination it is incumbent upon every voter to line up in support or we are doomed to four more years of the worst president in history.

On to the links…

How Republicans Made Millions on the Tax Cuts they Pushed through Congress—In a world where the president’s lawyer argues that it is not illegal for a president to break the law if he thinks that it is in his interest to be reelected we also get Republicans profiting handsomely from tax cuts that blew another hole in federal budgets.

Revealed: Top Official did Special Favors on Guns for NRA at Interior Department—The Trump administration is literally the best thing that money can buy for groups like the NRA.  Whatever they want is just a check away.

Trump’s USDA Chief Thinks Farm Workers Are Overpaid—I wonder who would think that farm workers were overpaid?

Evangelicals Love Donald Trump for Many Reasons, But One of Them Is Especially Terrifying—I guess when you surround yourself with people who preach for the death of satanic pregnancies this was bound to happen.

The Right Keeps Attacking Greta Thunberg’s Identity, not Her Ideas—There are no ideas on the right anymore.  All that remains is vitriol and hate.

Make Big Polluters Pay for Mass Tree Planting, Officials Say—Every gallon of gasoline that is sold, every ton of coal that is mined, etc. should have a tax on it to support environmental restoration.

Kansas’s Ag-Gag Law has Been Ruled Unconstitutional—These laws were going to be Republican’s favorite thing to pass right after expanded gun legislation and whatever the right-to-life people want that week.  Too bad those pocket Constitutions bit them in the ass.

The British Wind Market Keeps Breaking Its Own Record—The offshore wind market in Britain is crazy.  The numbers for the size of these offshore wind farms are insane.  Each one is bigger than the last.

Zero-Carbon Hydrogen Injected into Gas Grid for First Time in Groundbreaking UK Trial—This is an interesting way to decarbonize natural gas.  Given that we may have situations where renewable energy is over producing, making hydrogen in that scenario makes sense.

One Less Thing to Worry about in Your Carbon Footprint: Whether Your Food is Local—I do not believe that the thrust of eating local was just about one’s carbon footprint.  Yes, it is part of the equation but there is so much more to the story than that.

Two-Thirds of Freight Shipped by Truck in the US in 2018 was Shipped Less than 100 Miles—My 2015 Nissan Leaf has the range to handle these kinds of routes.

Nightmares on Wax: the Environmental Impact of the Vinyl Revival—What is it with people and vinyl records?  When I was a kid I do not remember anyone mythologizing vinyl records as boxes of old records sat in garage sales.  Do we need to blame hipsters?

Chinese Winter Olympics To Be Held On Mountains With No Natural Snow—Who else thinks this will end poorly?

$38 Billion is Spent Yearly on Self-Storage—Is there anything in these self-storage units that is worth anything close to $38 billion?  Imagine what we could do as a society with an extra $38 billion per year.

Friday Linkage 1/10/2020

Although it looks like the Trump administration is backing down from an actual war with Iran as you would expect the schoolyard bully to do when presented with a combatant that is unwilling to gamely play along, it shocks me that we have a Republican president yet again selling a case for a war in the Middle East.

Is there something in the air at Fox News that makes these people so eager for war in the Middle East?

On to the links…

7 High-Impact Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions—Make 2020 the year that you make changes in your lifestyle that are climate positive in a large way.

Can We Live The Good Life With Less Energy?—The answer is an unequivocal yes.  However, the shocking thing to me is that we can really live a pretty good and modern life on a surprisingly lower amount of energy compared to what we are using today.

How We Cut Our Electricity Usage by 85%—I am not saying that everyone needs to go to this level of reduction, but it shows what is possible.

2,000 Gigawatts of Solar Power Needed for 100% Renewables—All right, now we have a number to work towards.

These Three European Countries Broke Major Renewables Records In 2019—Here is the punch line: Denmark at 50%, the United Kingdom at 26.5%, and Germany at 46%.  These are the percentages of power that are coming from truly renewable energy sources for 2019 in those countries.

Parking Has Eaten American Cities—This is when I knew we had a problem with parking in the United States.  At my place of work, your car will get more space than you are allocated in a cubicle.

How Ghent got Rid of Cars and Transformed the City in a Decade—If done properly, the reduction or elimination of cars from our urbanized landscape is effective and popular.  People really do not like cars save for the dream of convenience that is all but gone in modern circumstances.

It’s Time To Let Go Of Commuter Culture—No one is asking people to give up cars for the things that they enjoy, but commuter culture needs to die.  No one likes trudging along in gridlock.  No one.

National Trust to Plant 20 million Trees in UK Over Next Decade—Why not 20 million trees over the next two years?

‘Like sending bees to war’: The Deadly Truth Behind Your Almond-Milk Obsession—I want 2020 to be the year that we just sort of give up on milk and its plant-based replacements.  Except for oat milk.  That one seems to come without a lot of problems.  Probably because oats are just kind of awesome.

The Decade Lettuce Tried To Kill Us—Maybe it is time that we gave up on the vegetable that was once described as a fancy way to basically transport water from one place to another.

What is Private Equity, and Why is it Killing Everything You Love?—If you hear someone in an expensive suit say, “I’m from a private equity firm and we are here to help” it is the end times for your business.  The business model is predicated on making more money than is possible in traditional investing with no regard for anything else.

Smart Garbage Disposal Composts Your Food Scraps instead of Grinding Them Up—If this thing actually works, I want one.

Final Report on 2019 “Resolutions”

It is time to take stock of my so-called New Year’s resolutions for 2019 and see how I did.

Without further ado, here is the list:

  • Decarbonize transportation—My 2015 Nissan Leaf has been in the garage for about a year.  Over that time ~7,987 miles at an average efficiency of 5.2 miles per kWh. The Leaf saved ~9,119 pounds of CO2 being emitted compared to my prior vehicle.  Furthermore, I added ~62% generating capacity to my home’s solar photovoltaic array so for 2020 I should be driving on sunshine 100% of the time.
  • No more Amazon—A little bit of failure and a little bit of success. I definitely spent a lot less money at Amazon than in prior years, but it speaks to the company’s ubiquity that I ended up buying anything at all.  Want to buy that odd little gadget?  Guess what, Amazon is about the only place to find fulfillment.
  • No more Walmart—A little more success as I the only trips to Walmart were few and far between for the year. Over the course of the entire holiday shopping season it never entered into my mind to even shop there.  Once a store is no longer part of your “consideration set” that has to be considered a success.
  • Read twenty five books—51 books read.
  • Drink local—Pretty good, but I think I can do better in 2020.
  • Declutter my house—Fail. My family and I spent some time getting rid of old clothes and other stuff that was taking up space in our closets.  However, it feels like we replaced whatever we got rid of over the course of the year.  I know that I will never be a fervent follower of Marie Kondo’s methods nor will I ever embrace modern minimalism.  I thought I could do a little better.
  • Replace existing toilets with low volume flush models—One toilet was replaced. A second toilet is scheduled to be replaced in January.  The third toilet in the house does not get enough use to merit replacement at this time.
  • Plant at least five trees—Two Norway spruce trees are in the ground.  Three Colorado blue spruce trees in the ground. Mission accomplished.
  • Reduce lawn coverage—Fail. I had the best of intentions to start replacing some of my lawn with mixed plantings and landscaped beds.  While I got the trees in the ground the rest of the plan did not come together.  This is where I am going to focus my 2020 landscaping efforts.
  • Ride 2,500 miles on gravel roads—Over 3,000 miles ridden on the year. Mission accomplished.

 

For 2020 I am going to try and build on what was done in 2019.  The goal is to improve each year.  Different goals or different metrics, but the overall theme is improvement.

Stay tuned!

Friday Linkage 12/6/2019

I drive by the signs advertising Ronald Reagan’s childhood home frequently when traveling to the Chicagoland area.  It is just too delicious that the patron saint of government bashing’s house is going to be administered by the government.

Or maybe the problem is that people really do not care all that much about hypocrites like Ronald Reagan.

On to the links…

The Economics behind Planting Billions and Billions of Trees–To bastardize a saying of Michael Pollan’s, “Plant trees, on appropriate land, mostly native species.”  It is a simple action that really has no downside. If we focus on areas that have been logged, burned over, or denuded by other means it will reintroduce tree cover to appropriate lands.

The World’s Top 10 Carbon Dioxide Emitters–Take a look:

960x0.jpg

The future of the Earth rests in the hands of China, the United States, and India.

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why–I applaud Andy Stone for pointing out that the key ingredient missing in the transition to a fossil free future is sufficient political will on the part of all politicians, but particularly those leaning with a conservative bent.  Our politics are bought and paid for by fossil fuels.

Spain Might Be The World’s Most Important Climate Test–How did we end up in an era where our political choices are being defined by progressives facing off against neo-fascists?

CO2-Eating Bacteria Made in the Lab Could Help Tackle Climate Change–Does this sound like the beginning to a young adult dystopian novel?

Let’s Implement a Luxury Carbon Tax, because not all Carbon is Created Equally–Let’s start with first class and business class airline flights.  Say $25 per ticket. All funds to be spent on reforestation.

Renewables are Not Making Electricity any More Expensive–Economics is a health of a thing.

Utilities Running Uneconomic Coal Plants Cost Consumers $3.5 Billion From 2015-2017–Coal is costing you money.

Average Battery Prices Fell To $156 Per kWh In 2019–Here is the key line: “this year the average EV battery pack prices decreased to around $156/kWh, which is some 87% less than it was in 2010 (over $1,100/kWh).”  In less than a decade’s time the average price has decreased almost 90%.

Are Electric Vehicles Really About To Plateau Oil Demand?–Plateaued oil demand is bad enough, but even a lower growth model will doom many higher cost oil plays in the short term.  EVs are part of the problem for oil demand, but just as important are tighter regulations on fossil fuel emissions in general.

Coal Power Becoming ‘Uninsurable’ as Firms Refuse Cover–If you cannot get insurance, you cannot operate.  I am sure that Donald Trump and his coal dust caked cronies will come up with a government backed reinsurance scheme to make sure that people like Bob Murray can profit from killing the planet.

Why Aren’t We Building a Traveling Wave Reactor in the U.S.?–Nuclear power always seems like it is an answer to our electricity problems until you account for all of the problems that nuclear power creates.  I am unwilling to hop on the traveling wave reactor bandwagon, but maybe Bill Gates is on to something. At least he is not spending his money on running for president.

Biofuels Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 96%–If nuclear seems like the holy grail of energy security, biofuels have to be the One True Cross of energy security.  At what point do we give up on the idea of liquid biofuels?

Agriculture is Part of the Climate Change Problem. Colorado Wants Farmers’ Soil to be Part of the Solution.–Improving soil health across grazing and other agricultural lands is probably one of the biggest “gains” we can make in the war against climate change.  Furthermore, increases in soil health and captured carbon will improve our ability to feed more people.

Chew On This: Farmers Are Using Food Waste To Make Electricity–Every kilowatt hour of electricity generated without the use of fossil fuels is a good thing.  Using a waste product to generate that electricity is like a double bonus.

DiGiorno and Stouffer’s Bring Plant-Based ‘Meat’ to Frozen Italian Food–If you do not think that plant based meat stand-ins are mainstream then how do you explain it being available in frozen pizza and lasagna?  Maybe it will be considered mainstream when there is a Jack’s frozen pizza with plant based pepperoni on sale for 4 for $10.

How Our Home Delivery Habit Reshaped the World–In an age of ubiquitous and pervasive shopping opportunities we need to radically rethink our relationship with consumerism.

Green Consumerism Is Part of the Problem–There is no such thing as “green consumerism.”  There is just “less bad consumerism.” Once we understand and internalize the reality that we cannot buy our way out of the problem of climate change, the sooner everyone will be better for it.

Friday Linkage 11/22/2019

This week one of the true giants of craft brewing announced a sale to a multi-national beverage conglomerate.  Fort Collins based New Belgium Brewery–the people behind Fat Tire Amber Ale–sold out to the group behind Kirin. This is the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States and the eleventh largest brewery overall.  Middle craft beer is dead. Support your small local brewery. Like today.

On to the links…

Keystone Spill Has Affected Nearly 10x More Land Than Was Estimated–Every time that someone brings up an argument in favor of an oil pipeline, especially the Keystone XL pipeline, just link to this article.  There is no such thing as a perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline. The only perfectly safe and secure oil or gas pipeline is one that is not built.

See How Good the World Could be in 2040—If We Act on Climate Solutions Now–Lost in a lot of the pessimism about climate change specifically and the state of the world in general is that a future dystopia is not the only path available to use if we act.  Sure, right wing fanatics would have you believe that accelerationism–which is really just a pet theory for apocalypse nuts–is driving the world to the end times but they are wrong.

How Much Energy do We Really Need?–This is the kind of question that we need to be asking because it cuts at the very heart of the perpetual growth arguments of modern economic theory.  If we do not need to grow in perpetuity than we will need less energy than forecast in the future.

How to Cut U.S. Carbon Pollution by Nearly 40 Percent in 10 Years–Common sense and simple solutions to accelerate the climate change solution are available.  The problem is that a portion of this country’s politicians have no incentive whatsoever to embrace anything other than reactionary politics.  This is how we got a place where a conservative solution to health care coverage became the right wing’s bugaboo. We are doomed as long as these people are given any agency.

A Carbon Tax Won’t Kill the Economy–When someone at Forbes writes this article you have to wonder if the worm has turned.  It could also be that even the people at Forbes realize that America is relatively undertaxed and a carbon tax would go a long way to addressing destructive behaviors.  Somewhere Grover Norquist is hiding under his bedsheets and crying.

Two of America’s Biggest Coal Plants Closed this Month–This is why we keep pounding away at the problem by increasing efficiency, installing solar panels, and fighting for the true costs of fossil fuels to be included in the price of extraction.  Even with a president in the pocket of coal barons the ancient fuel is dying. Here is the damning paragraph from the article:

Together, the two retirements equal all the emission reductions from coal plant shut-downs in 2015, a record year when 15 GW of mostly smaller and older units were shuttered, reports Scientific American. Last year, 14 GW were mothballed. In 2020, more are on the way, including Kentucky’s Paradise plant.

The Paradise plant in Kentucky represents 1.15 GW of coal fired capacity.  It’s closure and another TVA asset in the region will save customers over $300M.  That is economics, bro!

5 Things to Know about Fighting Climate Change by Planting Trees–Here is the thing that gets me about this debate: the argument is that planting trees is not as good as some people make it out to be.  Okay, but that does not mean it is not beneficial. Just because the upside potential is lower than advertised does not mean that it ceases to be a worthwhile endeavour.  What is the downside?

When Residents Support Solar—Just ‘Not in My Backyard’–This is the worst.  Supposed liberals and supporters of green energy who just want to put energy production somewhere else.  Take responsibility for your consumption.

EasyJet Flights are Now Carbon Neutral–Carbon offsets are kind of the crack cocaine of the climate mitigation movement.  Easy to consume and oh so addictive. “See, we are carbon neutral,” a company can say without really addressing the underlying environmentally destructive behaviors that drive their business.

This Man Wants to Convince America Beef is Healthier than Meatless Burgers–This is also a man who worked for years to convince the American public that smoking was not a public heath crisis.  This is the same kind of man who will tell you industrial pollution is actually good for you. This is the same kind of man who will sell his soul for a few extra dollars in his bank.  This is the kind of man who needs to rot in hell.

There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals in Packaged Foods — and It’s Legal–In some dark basement somewhere Richard Berman is swimming in his ill gotten gains like an oily Scrooge McDuck wondering if he should contact the packaged food industry to begin a campaign of telling us that untested chemicals in our food are really good for us.  Or, we could just avoid the middle aisles of the grocery store.

Los Angeles Places Largest Single Electric Bus Order In US History — 130 BYD K7M Buses–I am really waiting for the day when orders like this are just commonplace.  Or when orders of a much larger magnitude are what we report about. Still, progress.

Dominion Energy’s Electric School Bus Program Offers Valuable Vehicle-to-Grid Lesson–When electric buses are idle those big batteries can be part of the solution in shifting the mismatch between the supply of renewable energy and the demand for electricity.

Thermal Camera Reveals Efficiency Gap Between EV And ICE–About this time of year I wished I had a little bit of that wasted energy for heating my Nissan Leaf.

The U.S. Natural Gas Boom Is Fueling A Global Plastics Boom–Cheap natural gas equals cheap plastic.

Fast Shipping isn’t Great for the Environment— 7 Ways to Cut the Carbon Footprint on your Amazon Deliveries–Until Amazon is rocking a fleet of Rivian electric delivery trucks you are stuck with getting stuffed shipped the old fashioned way–heavily carbon intensive.  The advice is really simple: ship it together and ship it slowly. Or just stop buying stuff online.