Tag Archives: Walmart

Friday Linkage 6/9/2017

Do you remember when we all woke up on November 9th wondering how bad things could get?  If you thought the first week of the Trump presidency in January was bad, it just kept getting worse.  If you thought “covfefe” was the nadir, it is going to keep getting worse.  We are witness to the single most incompetent president in the history of the United States.

On to the links…

Kansas Republicans End the State’s Failed Tax Reform Experiment—Normally I do not spend a lot of effort on taxes or tax policy.  This is important because it drives a dagger right through the heart of the Republican mantra that tax cuts pay for themselves.  It is over with and the tea party lost.  In Kansas of all places.  I expect Sam Brownback to quickly take a position within the Trump administration now that he realizes Kansas is not his personal playground of Ayn Rand fantasies.

Iowa’s Push Toward Renewable Energy not Likely to Change with Paris Climate Accord Decision—Iowa could be doing more, but the state already gets more than 35% of its electricity from the wind with plans to get north of 40% in the next two years as planned wind farms come online.  We can keep moving forward despite what the flaccid cantaloupe in Washington D.C. decides to do when he eats some beautiful chocolate cake and fires up his Twitter account.

Trump’s Answer to Paying for U.S.-Mexico Border Wall: Install Solar Panels—I thought Mexico was going to pay for it?  This is what happens when you cannot tell the difference between reality, parody, and satire.  Nothing is funny and everything is horrific.

California Plan for 100% Renewable Energy by 2045 Clears Key Hurdle—Leadership will come from states and cities.

Coal Bows to Natural Gas, as Consumption Falls to Lowest since 1984—Lowest level since 1984.  Not because of the Clean Power Plan.  Not because of Barack Obama.  Because of cheap natural gas.  Try saving coal from cheap natural gas el Trumpo.

The War On Coal Is Over—This is not coming from Treehugger or Grist.org.  This is coming from a website dedicated to following the fossil fuels markets.

India, Once a Coal Goliath, Is Fast Turning Green—Good luck exporting coal to India.

What Pittsburghers Know About the Environment That Trump Still Needs to Learn—Trump is ignorant of so many things.  When he claims to represent the people of Pittsburgh as opposed to Paris he is really saying that he is in the White House to line his pockets.  Every decision he makes needs to be seen through the lens of how it lines his or his family’s pockets with filthy lucre.

11 Ways to Build a Paris Climate Change Accord—Again, leadership will not come from above.  We need to create our own Paris climate agreement and execute on our own goals.

Colorado Blazes Low-Emissions, High-Employment Energy Pathway—Deploying clean energy means lots of jobs.  Jobs installing solar panels, maintaining wind turbines, building the infrastructure necessary to handle distributed power sources, and so on and so forth.  Why can’t people like Donald Trump and his Republican cronies see the potential?  Oh right, fossil fuel dollars flow through their veins.

Company Behind DAPL Used Paramilitary Security to Track Activists—How soon before these companies are conducting their own raids to target activists “in support” of law enforcement?  Your rights are under assault by the corporate class in a way never before in American history.  Is anyone paying attention?

Walmart’s ‘Ah Ha’ Moment on Climate Change—Walmart has zero credibility in my eyes, but when outlets like CNBC are reporting on the corporation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions something is happening.  Can’t sell cheap shit from China if everyone is too busy bailing out their homes because of climate change.

The Truth About Meal-Kit Freezer Packs—Can someone finally kill the whole meal kit idea?  The kits are not less expensive than buying stuff locally unless you compare one scallion to a bunch.  The kits are an environmental disaster with all the packaging and transportation costs.  Now we discover the freezer packs are little plastic bags of death.  Just learn to use a knife, shop at the grocery store, and really cook.

“Pink Slime” or Lean Finely Textured Beef? Food Defamation Trial Set to Begin—This has all the hallmarks of the McLibel case from long ago when a trial brought out all sorts of evidence that condemned the defendants but destroyed the credibility of McDonald’s relative to its food quality.  My whole defense would be, “The product coming out of the machine is pink, right?  The product coming out of the machine resembles a gelatinous blob, right?  Thus pink slime your honor.  Defense rests.”

Being Healthy Isn’t a Contest, So Stop Trying to Win It—If you are vegetarian, you need to vegan.  If you are working out, you need to be doing HIIT.  If you aren’t into yoga and juice cleanses you are just not doing enough.  Stop people.

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Friday Linkage 4/21/2017

Jason Chaffetz chooses not to run in 2018.  John Ossoff almost pulled it off in deep red Georgia.  Damn. Things might actually be looking up.

Oh wait, Trump is talking tough about North Korea.  Mike Pence is talking tough about North Korea.  Is it time for the tail to wag the dog and our lunatic politicians to wrap themselves in the flag before starting a war.  Worked for W.  Too bad it did not work out for the country.

On to the links…

The United States of Work—Read this entire article before commenting or dashing off a response email.  Think about its implications.  Our private employers have become a de facto parallel state to the federal government.

7 Reasons Why Today’s Left Should be Optimistic—I have hope because when you actually ask people if they support things like single payer healthcare, social security, worker protections, etc. the support is overwhelming.  We just need to translate that support into votes.  Ahh, the easy stuff.

6 Ways Trump’s Administration Could Literally Make America More Toxic—Our vigilance is required more than ever.  Plus, we have the opportunity to hit members of Congress with the reality that they have supported an administration that has made the air and water we depend on for life more toxic.  Defend that in front of the people.

6 Times Trump’s EPA Head did Exactly what Industry Told Him To—Scott Pruitt is the fossil fuel industry’s meat puppet.  He does what they want and that has allowed him to rise to his current position.  He is not an original thinker or a policy professional.  He is a shill for fossil fuels.

The 3 Stages of a Country Embracing Renewable Energy—I’ve got a number thing going on this week.  It’s a little bit too much like Harvard writing, but the idea is important.  What the world will look like as countries enter into the third stage of renewable energy development will be critical to our future on this planet.

Climate’s New Best Friend—Get used to the term “stranded assets.”  Basically, oil companies made plans to develop fossil fuel sources when prices were high.  Now that oil is under $60 a barrel these projects are no longer cost competitive.  Hence, stranded assets.

Europe’s Coal Power Is Going up in Smoke – Fast—The death spiral is real in Europe.

Ice Energy & NRG Announce World’s Largest Ice Bear Energy Storage Deployment—Shifting peak electricity demand is a huge component of making our grid greener as the prime hours of solar production are just short of the peak demand from residential users.  Plus, the wind blows hard at night when no one is using electricity.  This is a low tech, established solution to shift demand to other times of the day.

Walmart Secures 40 MWh of Energy Storage for Southern California Stores—Big box stores are a prime location for energy storage.  Why?  Land, lots of land, parking lots, and a need to make sure that the freezers stay cold so they do not lose thousands of dollars’ worth of frozen pizzas in a power outage.  Helping to balance the demand load is a nice little side benefit.

Here’s What Our Food Might Look Like in a Climate Change-Induced Dystopia—Top Chef Hunger Games this is not.

Tokyo’s Skyline Set to See 45 New Skyscrapers by 2020 Olympics—When people tell me that we cannot quickly add buildings to our urban landscape for housing I wonder what they would say about Tokyo?

One Key Way Soggy California Could Save Water for the Next Dry Spell—California may be out of the worst of its recent drought, but the state is essentially on a roller coaster of moisture and has been for thousands of years.  Preparing the landscape for the next cycle is critical.

Why Shopping Should be a Last Resort—We should all have a copy of this taped to the door of our refrigerators at home:

the_buyerarchy_of_needs.png.662x0_q70_crop-scale.png

The Most Subversive Thing You Can Do Is…

Nothing.

Wait, what?  Nothing?

Yes, that is right, do nothing.  I do not mean do nothing in a political or activist sense.  Good lord no, please make sure that your elected representatives know very clearly what you think of their behavior in office and how that is going to make you vote in 2018.  Make their lives unpleasant by actually showing up to their town hall meetings—assuming they actually schedule town halls in their districts unlike Rod Blum—and let them know how displeased you are with their proposed legislation and Donald Trump.

When I say do nothing I mean stop participating in the consumer driven shell game.  Our consumption of stuff just feeds the beast.  We can rail against the political machine in Washington D.C. as much as we want but as long as we are filling our shopping carts the wheel will keep on spinning.

Do you think Exxon Mobil really cares about protests?  Not really.  They would care however if a measurable percentage of their customers stopped buying gasoline because they were commuting by bike.  How many?  Enough to flatten their growth curve and cause investors to panic.  Looking at the current state of oil markets a drop in demand of 5-10% is enough to cause major perturbations in price.  Could you reduce your personal consumption of gasoline by 5-10%?  Heck, all of us could probably do that without thinking.  No one is saying that you need to stop driving entirely, just reduce it by 5-10%.  The upside is that it costs nothing to do less driving.

Do you think WalMart really cares about anything other than its quarter versus quarter results?  Not really.  However, given that the counties that supported Hillary Clinton account for ~64% of the nation’s GDP if those voters were to stop patronizing WalMart the results would be staggering.  Remember, the game is now about growth and if companies cannot show a path toward growth the market will punish them.  Look at coal companies.  Once these companies could no longer show a clear path to growth, never mind declines in demand, the market punished the companies by withholding capital and the coal companies began declaring bankruptcy.  It costs nothing to not shop at WalMart.

Political activists constantly harp on us to “vote with our wallets,” but it is much more effective to vote by not opening our wallets.  Just shifting our spending from one faceless corporation to another is not going to create any kind of meaningful change.  If over a short period of time there was a measurable decline in consumer demand for stuff you would see some real change.  Granted, Republicans would probably start trying to pass legislation that guaranteed WalMart a certain amount of income because they love welfare when it is for corporations.

Doing nothing when it comes to consumerism is subversive because it goes against the dominant paradigm in modern America.  Heck, when we were facing the greatest existential threat to the United States in a generation George W. Bush implored us to go out and shop.  A stirring call to action this was not, but it does represent what passes for action in the minds of modern politicians.

Step back from the cash register and do nothing.  Put that book down and check out something from your public library.  Avoid that trip to the mall and see what unused items lurk in your closet that would be better served as a donation to the Salvation Army.  Resist the urge to go out for dinner and be truly revolutionary by cooking dinner for a group of people.  Heck, that may be the most revolutionary thing you could do because nothing smacks of “commie socialism” like sharing a meal with a group of people and expecting nothing return save for good conversation.  I can read the tweets from Donald Trump already “Sad.  Dinner without tableside service so un-American.  Mar-a-Lago will always be tremendous.”

Friday Linkage 7/10/2015

Man, it feels like fall around here right now. It is just about perfect for a summer in Iowa. Global warming be damned.

On to the links…

All of the World’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions in one Awesome Interactive Pie Chart—This pie chart is pretty freaking amazing.

Free the Snake: Restoring America’s Greatest Salmon River—If you have watched the documentary DamNation you need to watch this short about the Snake River.

Marijuana Growing Spikes Denver Electricity Demand—This might be the one downside to marijuana legalization in Denver. It’s not really sustainable to grow something inside under artificial lights. Maybe a new generation of growers using greenhouses instead of grow rooms can change the paradigm.

How The Oil Industry Got Two Regulators Fired For Doing Their Jobs—If you think that the government can actually regulate oil and gas companies you need to realize the power that these companies wield.

How Solar Power Is Learning To Share: The Rapid Growth Of Community Solar Gardens—Community solar is kicking ass. It will probably become a talking point for right wingers because the word community is too close to communism for their brains to handle. Too bad people like it a lot. Kind of like Obamacare.

White House Plans Rooftop Solar Panel Initiative for Inner-City Neighborhoods—Solar is generally something enjoyed and employed by the relatively well-off. Solar leasing changes this to a degree, but a lot of people are left out of the benefits. Here is an effort to change that dynamic.

Solar In New York State Grew 300% From 2011-2014—Think about that growth rate for a moment. Anything that grows that fast is amazing.

Billionaire On Way To Building Largest Wind Farm In North America… And It’s Not Warren Buffett—Philip Anschutz is a name you will be familiar with if you spend any time in Colorado or Wyoming. The billionaire is now building a pair of windfarms with the capacity to generate some 3,000 megawatts of clean power. The irony is that the facilities are located in Carbon County, Wyoming.

Kenya’s New Wind Farm Will Provide Nearly One Fifth Of The Country’s Power—Granted, Kenya’s electricity demands are nothing like the U.S. or other developed Western countries, but one-fifth of a nation’s power coming from the wind is pretty sweet.

Belize Going 100% Renewables As Part Of 10 Island Challenge—How come Belize can make this kind of commitment and we in the U.S. cannot make the same kind of effort?

Alaska’s on Fire and It May Make Climate Change Even Worse—Great. Alaska is on fire and the carbon release is going to make climate change worse. Awesome.

Walmart Website Riddled with Deceptive Made in USA Claims—Walmart lies. Big surprise.

Urban Farmers: Community Food Growing around the World – In Pictures—Urban farms, like community solar, are hot right now. But these gardeners have nothing on the urban farming of Cuba. I have seen these operations in person and some are truly impressive.

Friday Linkage 6/19/2015

Summer is here and it is glorious. The vegetable garden is coming into its own—I even have little heads of cauliflower peeking out—and the miles are really starting to get racked up on the bike.

On to the links…

These New Quotes From Pope Francis Could Change The Debate On Climate Change—Climate change deniers will find a reason to quibble with the pope because their pocket books demand that they keep denying reality for their masters.

33% Of Electricity Produced In EU Now Comes From Renewables—Do I even need to comment on a headline like that?

Solar Power Passes 1% Global Threshold—One percent may not seem like a lot, but its significant because it means that solar is relevant in the grand scheme.

Survey Of Big Investment Companies Shows Why We Might Be On The Verge Of A Solar Power Boom—When big money begins investing in solar things will really take off.

Why Solar Panels are an Affordable and Smart Investment—I could just say, “Because they rock!” However, the logic is a little more sound than that:

JK_Solar_Infographic

100% Renewable Electricity For Minnesota Town’s Government Facilities—Talk about a solar garden!

India Just Upped Its Solar Target Five-Fold, Will Install More Solar This Year Than Germany—As the developing world deploys solar they will begin to leapfrog countries with a deeper investment commitment to the old fuel regime.

How In-Town Development Produces Less Traffic Than You Might Think—Car-centric development with bog boxes and acres of parking is really a dead end. No one, save for companies like WalMart, like the format because it is soul sucking in its conformity. Maybe the old way is better.

These Affordable Bamboo Houses were Built for Just $2,500 Each—When I see articles like this it makes me mad to read reports about how international organizations failed to build housing in Haiti despite millions in donations.

Farm Implement Clears Path for More Cover Crops—This is just cool. It’s cool to see old methods be made new by inventive engineering and a can do attitude.

Elementary Kids Dig Weeklong Camp about Urban Farming, Food—Kids need to dig around in the dirt and understand how our food is grown in order to grow up to become good consumers and stewards of the land.

Here’s the Latest Evidence of How Private Prisons Are Exploiting Inmates for Profit—Guess what? When you give companies a profit motive for keeping people in jail those companies are going to find ways to keep people in jail. Private prisons are one of the shames of our time.

How Walmart’s Hiding $76 billion in Secret Subsidiaries around the World—WalMart is a shitty company that take tax money to provide low wage jobs for people to sell stuff that is mostly made in China. Here’s a look at the subsidy picture:

Walmart-tax-haven-map-for-web

Friday Linkage 4/18/2014

I thought that it was going to be a breakthrough week. The temperature was going to warm up and the sand would be cleared from the streets. Instead, it rained all day on Sunday and almost snowed later in the week. Nice start to spring.

On to the links…

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fell 3.4 Percent In 2012, Says EPA—It’s good news, undercut by the fact that GHG will probably rise in 2013. Ugh.

Climate Efforts Falling Short, U.N. Panel Says—Basically, we are heading blindly into the worst case scenarios for climate change. Joy.

Solar Installation Industry Grows 45 Percent in 2013—Is there bad news about solar anywhere lately? Sure, a few companies are going to fall by the way side and Darrel Issa will probably try and talk about Solyndra but the industry is moving and shaking all the time.

Department Of Defense Undertakes Largest Solar Project To Date—The DoD is going crazy for solar. I have been to several military installations where south facing roofs are covered in solar panels and tracking arrays populate barren no-man’s lands between access roads. Just drive down I-25 near the Air Force Academy and you can see this in full effect. This is your tax dollars at work. In a good way.

World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013—Wind power worldwide can now power the equivalent of the European Union. Awesome. What is even cooler is that by 2015 Iowa will generate the equivalent of 33% of its power from the wind. We rule.

Ikea is Investing in First Wind Farm in U.S.—If every company put as much thought into sustainability as IKEA the world would be a better place. Of course, IKEA still sells furniture that is essentially disposable so it is not completely off the hook. Love that lingonberry jelly though.

The Denver Post’s ‘Energy And Environment’ Section Is Produced By The Oil And Gas Industry—I post links to the Denver Post a lot, so it is critical that people know where some of the information in that paper is coming from. Campaigns like this are just a joke.

Born-in-Boulder Wild Oats Brand to Re-launch in Walmart Stores—I am not a fan of WalMart. No matter what it does it will still be a planet and soul killing retail behemoth that should go the way of the dinosaur and Woolworth’s. However, anything that puts organic products in reach of more people is a good thing. Unless it is an organic Cheeto.

Small Seed Supply Remains Large Hurdle for Legal Hemp Farming—As more states outright legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana and by extension hemp there is going to have to be some federal action to clear up the muddied waters. Why can’t we farm hemp nationwide?

Minnesota’s Wild Turkeys: A Wildlife Success Story—It’s hard for me to believe that there was a time when wild turkeys were not all over the place. I grew up in southeastern Minnesota in the 1990s and we saw those creepy birds all the time. Heck, on my drive home in suburban Cedar Rapids there is a flock of fifteen or so wild turkeys. Still, it’s a good story.

Invasive Lionfish On The Decline In Jamaica After National Campaign To Save Reefs—I’ve never had a lionfish, but I would eat one if it was on the menu. I am glad to see that our voracious appetite for seafood has had at least one positive effect on the marine environment. Now, if we could only figure out a way to get people to crave Asian carp.

Paying Farmers to Welcome Birds—Farmers are an often overlooked ally in attempts to restore habitat. As a group farmers own a lot of land. Although it is a cliché, farmers also have a connection to the land that most non-farmers would not understand.

How to Make A Refrigerator More Efficient in Five Steps—It’s easy and with Earth Day quickly approaching it’s the least you can do. Okay, the least you can do is sign onto some silly Facebook page about Earth Day. At least making your refrigerator more efficient could actually help.

Friday Linkage 2/7/2014

Damn, February.  Pretty soon I will have to break out the garden porn and figure out what I want to grow this year.  I need to come up with a way to convince my wife to allow me to build a hop trellis on our property.  Homegrown hops in a house IPA…now that is an idea that I can get behind.

On to the links…

Senate Passes Long-Stalled Farm Bill, With Clear Winners and Losers—The farm bill is a big deal.  It’s policies shape our food system in fundamental and dramatic ways.  Overall, the bill continues the status quo in many ways but at least hemp is getting a little love.

E.P.A. Staff Struggling to Create Pollution Rule—This is a big deal.  The EPA, without any obstruction from Congress, can limit the amount of carbon pollution from power plants if the agency so chooses.

‘Out-Of-Control’ Rig In The Gulf Gushing Methane Freely Into The Atmosphere—When is the world going to realize that the people we have entrusted to extract oil and gas from the Earth’s crust do not have a clue what they are doing?  In the Gulf of Mexico an offshore rig run by Rowan Companies is spewing methane into the air.  These kinds of “spills” do not get the attention of a traditional oil spill because there is not goop coating cute birds.  Remember, methane is an uber potent greenhouse gas.

Federal Leasing Program A Giveaway To Big Coal—Basically, the U.S. government allows coal companies to lease huge tracts of land for coal extraction at prices far below what the market should bear.  Just another stealth subsidy for the energy sources that are killing the planet.

Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit—Recently it was West Virginia, but it’s now North Carolina’s turn to be inundated with a byproduct of the coal mining industry.  Will these people stop before the entire world is polluted?

The Government’s Secret Research into Climate Change as a Security Risk—Republicans in Congress may deny the existence of consensus on climate change, but the U.S. security establishment thinks it is real enough to devote resources studying the potential impacts.

IEC Makes Case for Solar Power in Iowa—Iowa is not a hot bed of activity when it comes to solar energy.  In a state that gets over 25% of its electricity from wind turbines you can cut us a little slack for not being on the razor’s edge when it comes to photovoltaics.  Now the Iowa Environmental Council is making a push for just such a technology.  Sweet.

World’s Largest Solar Bridge Officially Launched—The Blackfriars railway bridge in London is now covered in solar photovoltaics.  Why aren’t we rushing to put panels on every place?  Plus, why do the British have all the cool names like Blackfriars?  It’s not fair.

Bernie Sanders: Should We Provide Welfare For Walmart?—The answer is no, but if you look at government policy the answer is much less clear because there are a lot of policies that are essentially welfare for WalMart.

About That Tainted Seafood In Texas—Is Texas just a hellish place where rules are meaningless, oilmen are immune from scrutiny, and everyone who is not a millionaire is screwed?  Pretty much.

Growing Insects: Farmers Can Help to Bring Back Pollinators—As bad as things seem in this world, there are steps that everyone can take to make improvements.  The ability of farmers to improve the situation is overlooked by a lot of people because we tend to paint the entire occupation with a broad brush.

Michael Pollan Explains What’s Wrong With the Paleo Diet—Take a minute and enjoy the musings of our modern day food sage, Michael Pollan, as he dissects the problems associated with the faddish Paleo diet.

Sugar Linked to Heart Disease Deaths in National Study—In the United States we eat too much sugar and it is killing us.  It is not just diabetes, however, as a new national study finds it may be a culprit behind deaths resulting from heart disease.

Giant Boulders Plow Through Italian Farmhouse & Vineyard—Sometimes we forget the everyday power of nature.  These pictures are kind of amazing.