Tag Archives: Utah

Find Your Tribe

In this crazy, mixed up world where Donald Trump can claim that Hillary Clinton colluded with Russia to harm her own campaign as a means to explain his innocence we need to find solid footing more than ever.  We need to find that tribe of people who connect with our beliefs and our passions in order to feel that we belong to this larger universe.  You need to find your tribe.

What do you are about?  What makes your heart sing?  What makes you smile to get up in the morning and see the possible?  Take stock of these things to find your tribe.

It is important to be part of something larger when engaging with your elected representatives because it gives your message staying power.  If you correspond with them as a member of an organization that has individuals testifying or is providing lobbying materials on behalf of an issue it resonates.  There is a reason why the AARP gets its message heard.  When thousands of people call and tell their representatives that the issue is important to members of AARP that legislative agenda gets traction.

Consider the power we can wield.  When Trump, goaded by the Utah congressional delegation and local state politicians including the governor, announced his intention to review more than a dozen monuments declared under several prior presidential administrations the outdoor community howled.  Better yet progressive outdoor companies led by Patagonia and followed quickly by Arc’teryx, Polartec, and Peak Designs among others made it very clear that they would not participate in the semi-annual Outdoor Retailer convention that took place in Salt Lake City.

By July 2017, less than five months after the actions by the outdoor community, Outdoor Retailer announced it would be moving its convention to Denver.  Numbers are hard to come by and notoriously unreliable, but most accounts attribute upwards of $45 million dollars in spending due to the presence of Outdoor Retailer.  I do not care how right wing your politics run $45 million is a lot of money getting pumped into the local economy.

Why did this happen?  Outdoor advocates and companies banded together in a coherent way to make it known they would not stand for the wonton giveaway of our public lands to moneyed interests.  This is the power of our tribes.

This is something that the right wing has understood for years with organizations like the NRA.  Very few members of the NRA actually espouse the virulent views of its leadership but they are counted among the faithful when it comes time to apply political pressure.  We can apply the same level of political pressure on behalf of our causes.

Be active in your tribe.  Be unforgiving in your defense of your tribe.  Be passionate about your tribe.

If you happen to be one of those people so dispossessed and apathetic that there is nothing for which you would man the barricades may whatever god have mercy on your soul.

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Friday Linkage 7/28/2017

I have been a little lax on posting some things lately and I have no excuse other than work, children, life in general…you get the idea.  My hope is to have an update on my upcoming solar photovoltaic system soon and some thoughts on other ways to really embrace a lower carbon life here in middle America.

On to the links…

Vail Resorts Promises to Eliminate Emissions, Waste and Offset Forest Impact by 2030—Welcome to the party Vail Resorts.

Trump Nominates Sam Clovis, a Dude Who Is Not a Scientist, to Be Department of Agriculture’s Top Scientist—This is what happens when you elect people who profess to hate government and expertise in general to run the government.  You get people who are unqualified for the job screwing up and then claiming afterwards, “I told you government does not work.  See?”

The Quieter Monument Battles to Watch—Donald Trump and Ryan Zinke’s assault on our national monuments is, to put it mildly, monumentally unpopular.  Remember, this is a man who can lose the popular vote  by nearly three million votes and claim with a straight face that he had the most lopsided electoral victory in history.  Nothing is beyond the pale for these people.

As Outdoor Retailer Show Packs up for Colorado, Industry Flexes Political Muscle in U.S. Land Fight—The people who love the outdoors are being heard.  The companies who make money off the people who love the outdoors are making their voices heard.  This is no small change and it represents a viable path forward to protect our access to public lands.

Are Renewables Set to Displace Natural Gas?—Europe and the U.S. are very different places, so extrapolating upon trends from on to the other is dangerous.  However, I wonder what will happen if natural gas experiences price spikes like it has in the past.  Will renewables rush to fill the void left by coal as the second choice when natural gas gets pricey?

Seven Charts Show Why the IEA Thinks Coal Investment Has Already Peaked—Coal is in all kinds of death spirals right now.  The decline in investment is a long term impediment to their being any revival in coal’s fortunes.

“Clean Coal” Is A Political Myth, Says Coal Company Owner—Robert Murray is the gift that keeps on giving.  After John Oliver went after him using public statements and other records that were readily available he just keeps on opening his mouth.  Gotta’ love a rich man with no filter…oh wait, that is the clown we have in the White House.

Peeling Back the Red Tape to Go Solar—The run around and red tape dance has been the most frustrating part of getting my solar photovoltaic system installed on my roof.  Yet, I still have more hoops to jump through once the system is actually installed.  None of it is value added and all of it costs either money or time.  Ugh.

Straus Family Creamery Powered by Cow Gas—Why don’t we have a government program to install one of these systems at every dairy farm or other large livestock operation in the United States?

This Beautiful but Toxic Weed Could Make you go Blind—Giant hogweed is no joke.  I have friends with the burn scars from the sap to prove it.

Minimalism Is Just Another Boring Product Wealthy People Can Buy—I have always found it ironic that people buy books or attend seminars about minimalism.  Shouldn’t the idea be somewhat self-apparent with a little reflection?

Debunking What the Health, the Buzzy New Documentary that Wants You to be Vegan—Veganism has become the new snake oil for a lot of people.  It will not cure all that ails us and to pretend otherwise is to traffic in the same dreck that has gotten us into this mess.

Beer Sales are Down…Especially Among the Millennials—Millennials are trying to wreck everything.

A Cut Above: Two Axe-Throwing Venues Carve Out a Niche in Denver—Axe throwing venue?  Peak hipster?

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 1/27/2017

Just think, we are a little more than three years away from the 2020 Iowa caucuses.  Let that thought warm your soul as you watch Donald Trump soil the office of the President of the United States and his minions essentially crap on America.

On to the links…

Inside Trump’s Holdings: A Web of Potential Conflicts—The man is the living personification of potential political scandal.  Remember when Hilary Clinton’s problem was that there was perceived “pay to play” with regard to the Clinton Global Initiative, which was debunked in short order?  Where is the outrage at a sitting president who refuses to do anything substantive about his conflicts of interest?

President Trump Will Love This New Wind Energy Farm: It’s Huuuuuuger Than Anything In China—I prefer to think of this wind farm as yuge.  I wonder if renewables can get backing from Trump because they are amazing, so amazing.  The best in the world, really.  Big league.

What Would The Economic Impact Be If Everyone Installed Solar Panels?—Boy, wouldn’t this be a problem to have?

Turning Point: Solar Cheaper than Wind—This is for unsubsidized large scale or utility scale solar.  Amazing that power from the sun is now cheaper than wind and possibly cheaper than coal or natural gas.

Scotland Eyes 50% Renewable Energy by 2030 in Shift Away from North Sea Oil—Scotland is basically forced to do this because the North Sea oil fields are running dry.

Japan’s Solar Boom Is Accelerating—It’s like solar is reaching a tipping point where there is a positive feedback loop.  More installed solar leads to even more installed solar and so on and so forth.

Big Changes Brewing in the Wasatch—Even in deep red Utah, which has given us that rat fink Jason Chaffetz, a compromise has been reached with regard to development that most people in the area seem to be agreeable with.  Is this the new future?

Buffalo to be First Major American City to Eliminate Parking Requirements—Do you want to know why every place in America has huge parking lots that only seem full a couple days a year?  Zoning requirements.  Changing these requirements could mean building more dense developments and having actually walkable communities.

Hot Red Chili Peppers may be the Secret to Longer Life—If this is the case I should be doing well.

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 2/28/2014

It’s the final day of February and it is cold.  Like polar vortex cold.  I know that global warming is actually global climate change and weather extremes are only going to get worse, but I am really looking forward to some warmer weather.  I’ll probably be complaining about the heat and drought in a few months.

On to the links…

Obesity Rate for Young Children Plummets 43% in a Decade—It’s not all bad news all the time.  Maybe all the attention that is being given to children’s activity levels and food consumption is paying off in healthier children.

99 Percent of U.S. New Power Generation Added in January Came from Renewable Energy—The future is renewables and every month new numbers come out proving the point.  Sure, coal and other fossil fuels will play a role in our future energy plans but that role is increasingly marginalized.   Dig it.

Cape Wind Could be First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Operating by 2016—It looks like Cape Wind has secured the necessary financing and could become the first U.S. offshore wind farm in operation by 2016.  I will believe it when I see it because I do not think the legal wrangling and monkey wrenching by moneyed interests is done quite yet.

Colorado Becomes First State to Regulate Methane Emissions from Fracking—Colorado is the first, but it will not be the last.  The willy nilly expansion of fracking in the U.S. has caused a lot of people to reexamine their support of oil and gas drilling.

Oil Spill Shuts down 65 Miles of Mississippi River—I have lived all my life in states bordering the Mississippi River and for almost two decades I lived in a river town along the Mississippi River.  It’s a commercial waterway in every sense of the word, but the way that we treat the river is a tragedy.

How Ultra-Conservative Utah Became a Bastion of Environmental Activism—It’s a disservice to conservatives to lump them into a single bloc.  As if a religious or social conservative is also a fiscal conservative.  We tend to view the right as a monolithic bloc and the left as a patchwork coalition of interests.  As demographics shift and politics shatter, the right is looking more like the left every day.

Colorado Expects to Reap Tax Bonanza From Legal Marijuana Sales—Here’s something everyone can get behind.  The real story is not just about the new revenue being brought in, but the funds not being spent on enforcement of petty marijuana crimes.  If there was ever a win-win for states it is a legalization regimen like Colorado.

Giant Slaughterhouse Recalls Fancy Grass-Fed Beef After Processing “Diseased and Unsound Animals”—It’s not just the mystery meat in your Hot Pocket that got recalled, but high end grass fed beef as well.  If all slaughtering operations are centralized in massive facilities then we lose some resiliency in the system.  On a separate note, what is the nastiest Hot Pocket flavor?  Gotta’ be Spicy Beef Nacho.

Just How Much does it Cost Growers to Give us Cheap Bananas?—The high price of “cheap” food is something we should all be concerned about because it is not sustainable and it is not justifiable given the long term consequents to people or the environment.

Colorado Tumbleweed Explosion Creating Hazards and Headaches for Many—The stories about roadways being entirely covered and buildings getting lost in massive waves of tumbleweeds are amazing.  It’s like something out of stories from the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

California Endangered Species: Plastic Bags—There is the old school tumbleweeds clogging Colorado roadways and there is the modern tumbleweed—the t-shirt plastic bag.  When are we going to finally just give up on these wholesale?

Why the Plan to Dig a Canal Across Nicaragua Could Be a Very Bad Idea—The reemergence of a plan to build a canal across Nicaragua to supplant the Panama Canal is like some b-movie bad guy.  It’s a plan that will never completely die no matter how many dreams, reputations, careers, and lives are shattered by it.

Are Elevated Bicycle Highways the Future of Transportation?—I do not think that widespread adoption of elevated bicycle highways is going to be the future of transportation, but used in ways to make bicycling safer and more convenient in areas where cars rule it is a genuine solution.

Friday Linkage 11/1/2013

I feel like I am finally getting back to a sense of normal after two months of crazy.  The next couple of weeks should bring some good project notes on some things that I have been working on and a plethora of beer related musings.  In recent weeks I have bottled a couple of batches, brewed another, and planned trips to several breweries within the region.  Good things are coming.

On to the links…

Surly Brewing Breaks Ground on New Brewery—Why is this the lead link?  Because the brewery is going to quadruple annual capacity bringing hope to those of us not living in the Twin Cities that Coffee Bender might make a trip to our environs.

Annie Leonard Shows us How to Solve Our Problems—I just love the simple and impactful way that these “sketchboard” videos lay out issues that are sometimes very difficult to process in a meaningful way.  Take a few minutes and watch with intent.  When you are done watch the Story of Stuff as well.

Shutdown Of National Parks Cost $30 Million In Just One State—It is a damn shame that anyone has to argue about the value of the National Parks.  At least the recent government shutdown highlighted the value that these parks possess.  Now, if anyone on the right actually learns the lesson it will be a miracle.

Vision of Prairie Paradise Troubles Some Montana Ranchers—When the Poppers proposed the “Buffalo Commons” many years ago a lot of people laughed the idea off as east coast elite nonsense.  It looks like the folks behind the American Prairie Reserve did not think it was such a silly idea.

Why You Should Care About Everglades Restoration—It’s hard to love a swamp and it’s even harder love Florida.  But, the ecosystem of the Everglades is very important and its restoration could be a harbinger of common sense for a state devoid of it, in general.

Natural Allies for the Next Sandy—In the future, we are going to have to consider every solution to ensuring our communities are protected from super storms.  These storms will become more common and more intense.  Bet on it.

Over 100 North Dakota Oil Spills went Unreported—The dark side of the oil boom in North Dakota is seeping out story by story, day by day.  None of it is really good.  Now we know that the safety record of these companies is pretty piss poor.  Are these the same people you want in charge of a pipeline bringing sludge from Canada across the American heartland down to Texas?  Did not think so.

Want to Stop Hunger? Shift the Food Industry to Plant Based Foods—As the ecological and economic impacts of our rampant meat eating become more and more apparent, a movement is going to grow that treats such wanton consumption with the same contempt that we have for smoking.  A guy can hope right?

Should You Eat Chicken?—Mark Bittman nails the problem on the head with the simple statement that the issue with the food system is that “We care more about industry than we do about consumers.”  In this light, decisions made by regulators make sense.  A speed up of processing lines?  Sure, why not, we’ll just tell people to cook their chicken until it resembles a Duplo block to ensure no contamination.  We should not have to handle our food like it is hazardous waste.

Organic Crusader Wants Food Labels to Spell it Out—Ronnie Cummins and the Organic Consumers Association, a Minnesota based advocacy group, have been a key player in the push to have labels that tell the consumer if genetically modified ingredients have been used.  Voters in Washington will go to the polls soon to decide the fate of a labeling measure similar to the measure that failed in California recently.

F.D.A. Finds 12% of U.S. Spice Imports Contaminated—Now it looks like the spices that we import from overseas are contaminated and adulterated at a rate that is twice that of other food contamination.  Like was said in Fast Food Nation, there’s shit in our meat.

Watchdog Warns Of ‘Dirty Dozen’ Hormone Disruptors As Scientists, Industry Argue Regulation—I remember when talking about ensuring your child had BPA free bottles was just “hippie talk.”  My search for glass bottles was treated like some kind of project in Wicca or dark arts.  Now labels proudly proclaim the chemical is not present.  Too bad these endocrine disruptors are everywhere.

Should You Be Afraid Of Your Smart Meter?—Add smart meters to the things that might be potentially dangerous.  More and more I want to live some kind of neo-Luddite, off-grid existence.

What Is Coffee’s Carbon Footprint?—I am a coffee person.  Over the years I have reduced my Starbucks habit to about once per month as a treat with my daughter, but my mornings always begin with a cup of coffee from the Aeropress.  Reading about the carbon footprint is just a buzzkill.

WalMart has More Solar Capacity than 38 States—Granted, in terms of economic size, WalMart is bigger than most states as well.  The thing that gets me is that not every roof in America is being measured for panels like the store in this picture.  When flying into Chicago’s O’Hare Airport I was struck by the acres of flat and low sloping warehouse roofs that I could see from the window of the airplane.  So much acreage that could host solar panels.

As Solar Takes Off, Utilities Fight Back in Australia—This is getting to be a common refrain.  As solar becomes more accessible, utilities see a threat to their business model.  Fighting tooth and nail they delay progress on a truly transformative power generation method.  It’s all about control.

2013 to be Record Year for Offshore Wind—The lack of progress on U.S. offshore wind hides the fact that nations around the world are making it happen.  Although the total amount installed is low compared with what is deployed on land, a growth rate of 40% per year is very sporty.  Also, offshore wind allows wind power to be deployed closer to clusters of population that need renewable energy.

Portland Swaps 163 Parking Spots for 1,644 Bike Spots—The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.  The thing that blows me away about car parking is how much space we devote to our cars being stationary.  At my place of employment the new cubicles for employees are less than half the size of the average parking spot at the same company.  What is truly valued?