Tag Archives: wind

Friday Linkage 3/6/2020

I looked up and realized it was March already.  Wow.

Mike Bloomberg just spent half-a-billion dollars to win American Samoa outright, get schooled by Elizabeth Warren, and drop out after Super Tuesday.  What would you have done with 500 million dollars?  Probably not what he just did.

On to the links…

Calling Out the Super Polluters—Just 100 industrial sites in the U.S. account for approximately one third of toxic emissions.  This list should serve as the priority list for closure.

This Is An Unprecedented Drop In Oil Demand—Coronavirus is the cause, but the effect has been startling.  Oil demand is way down.  Satellites are showing images of pollution being way down in China because factories and power plants are not running.  The question is what will the demand be when things return to “normal.”

Your Plastic Addiction Is Bankrolling Big Oil—As demand drops, oil and gas producers are going to have to find ways to remain profitable.  Making plastic is one of those ways.  Reducing our demand for plastic could do just as much as using less oil to drive our cars for the environment.

Peak Permian Oil Production May Arrive Much Sooner Than Expected—Oil and gas production in the United States is defined by boom and bust cycles.  We have been in one of the longest “booms” in recent memory, but just as the stock market has sown recently there is a lot of unease about the past decade.

Will U.S. Coal Power Plant Retirements Slow Down?—It is almost a given that coal retirements will slow down in the coming years.  One, fewer plants will be available to be closed.  Two, those that remain are the most entrenched whether that is politically or economically.  We just need to keep pushing the deployment of renewables and killing coal.

Wind has Become the ‘Most-Used’ Source of Renewable Electricity Generation in the US—That statement is true if you consider hydropower to be renewable, which some people do not because of its reliance on dams.  Regardless, wind is killing it.

Florida Approves Largest Community Solar Program In The US—These projects are a great way for people to help drive the renewable energy transition if they cannot put solar panels on their own homes.  The fact that this is occurring in Florida surprises me considering how retrograde that state has become in the past few years.

Los Angeles Orders 155 Electric Buses: Largest In U.S.—Buses are the humble workhorses of public transportation.  However, I believe that an electrified bus system can be the catalyst for greener transportation.  A municipality can deploy electric buses as existing platforms wear out due to use without a wholesale overhaul of their fleet.  Each electric bus is like a rolling symbol of demand destruction.

What a Green New Deal Would Look Like in Every State—It’s a little light on the details, but the idea is that the solutions are not the same for all states.  What is right for West Virginia is not the same as Iowa and that is a good thing.  Let each region and state figure out the best way forward.

The Rise of Cloud Computing has had a Smaller Climate Impact than Feared—I still think people need to quit Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter but at least the feared energy use increase did not happen.

Greggs Profits Still on a Roll with a Boom in its Vegan Snacks—I do not get Greggs.  As an American in London last summer it seemed like one of those odd “junk foods” that people from the country love but no one else really understands.  Apparently, even vegans crave a sausage roll.

A Trump-Elevated Skeptic has Been Ordering Interior Scientists to Muddy Department Climate Reports—This is the best government money can buy for fossil fuel companies.

Taxpayers Are Likely on the Hook for Eric Trump’s Trip to His Dad’s European Resorts—Just your weekly dose of Trump family corruption.  These people are an extended clan of grifters and con artists.

Friday Linkage 1/24/2020

Evangelicals who support Donald Trump may welcome the end times—their assumption being that during the end times their beliefs will be rewarded at the expense of others—but watching him stumble through the throngs of the global elite in Davos is just sad.

Do you remember the time when Fox News lost its collective shit that President Obama wore a tan suit to a briefing?  Do you remember the time that the same network again lost its collective shit when President Obama saluted with a disposable coffee cup?  Yeah, I remember all of that and it makes me wonder why they are not losing their collective shit over the degradation of America’s world standing under Donald Trump.

No one respects us anymore.  We are tolerated because of economic size and military might.  It’s like the rich kid who gets invited to a party because he can buy beer.

On to the links…

Homeland Security Listed These Climate Activists as ‘Extremists’ Alongside Mass Killers—We live in a time where people protesting oil and gas projects are treated with more scrutiny than people who advocate for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

Energy Companies Have a Great Friend At Trump’s Interior Department: Their Former Lobbyist—The Trump administration is the best government that petro-dollars can buy.  If there is one thing a different president could do in January 2021 it is to make life a little harder for oil and gas companies.

Interior Attorney gave False Information to Congress about Contact with Koch Foundation—Need advice?  Of course you would reach out to the Koch Brothers.  Sorry, you would reach out the Koch Brother.  What could the possible conflict of interest be in this case?

How Much Energy Does The US Consume & Where Does It Come From?—In order to decarbonize our economy we need to know where we use energy and where that energy comes from.  This is a guide:

Total-US-energy-usage-Pew

Carbon Offsets Work. But are They an Excuse for Big Companies?—Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, it is an excuse for companies.  However, it is better than doing nothing.

Wind & Solar Power Will Dominate 2020 In US, Despite Trump—It’s cheaper and there are no greenhouse gas emissions.  Yep, that is pretty much a winning formula.

America’s Radioactive Secret—Fracking produces wastewater that is laced with radioactive material.  This is yet another reason to decarbonize.

Germany to Phase out Coal by 2038—2038 seems like a long way away, but I remember partying like it’s 1999 so maybe it is not so far away.  Maybe developments turn this into a 2035 goal or a 2032 goal.

Agrovoltaics Could Help Calm Fears About Renewables For Iowa Farmers—I do not believe that Iowa farmers have any issues or fears about renewables.  How do I know?  Spend any time driving in eastern Iowa and you will see solar arrays on a lot of farms.  Head south of where I live into Washington County and you will see solar arrays just about everywhere.

The JX Ranch—There is a place for ranching and grazing in our ecosystems.  It just takes care and patience to ensure that the practice can restore and sustain the land.  It can be done.

Modified Plants to Curb Climate Change—I get the idea, but this has unintended consequences written all over it.

China Announces Major Phaseout of Single-Use Plastics—I will believe this when I see it happen on the ground in China.  Official laws and announcements are one thing in China as the reality on the ground is often quite different.

Plastic Bags Have Lobbyists. They’re Winning.—The plastic industry is the same as the fossil fuel industry.  Where do you think the raw material for plastic comes from?  Oil and gas.  In fact, the production of feedstocks for industries other than liquid fuel is what drives the profitability of oil and gas refiners.  Without these additional revenue streams the business case for refining liquid fuels would look quite different.

How We Reduced the Environmental Impact of (Almost) Everything We Buy—No one wants to say it, but the best thing you can do for the environment is nothing.  Just stop buying stuff.  If you have to buy something, buy it used.  It is amazing how environmentalism and frugality intersect.

World’s Consumption of Materials Hits Record 100bn Tons a Year—Just stop buying stuff.

The Carbon Footprint of Dinner: How ‘Green’ are Fish Sticks?—The climate impacts of processing are something that we all need to be aware of in this climate crisis time period.  It is silly to truck salad greens thousands of miles and it might be silly to process food into items that only resemble food.

California has Been Passing Tough Animal Welfare Laws. A Court Just Handed the State a Big Victory.—Remember, Republicans only like local control if it favors allowing people to own machine guns and tell you what to do with your own body.  Otherwise, big business should get to make the decisions based on Republican logic.

Spending a Lot On Books? This Browser Extension Tells You if They’re Available at Your Local Library—This browser extension is absolute genius.  Install it.  Use it.

Friday Linkage 1/17/2020

It’s a little more than two weeks away from the Iowa caucus and things are getting testy.  Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are feuding about electability.  Tom Steyer is being Tom Steyer.  For some reason people actually think Joe Biden would make a good president.

All of this must be placed against the backdrop of the ultimate goal—defeating Donald Trump in such a demonstrative way that the MAGA hats become just as toxic as Confederate battle flags and white hoods.

On to the links…

Good News, Even in Darkness—It is easy to be pessimistic and it is hard to be optimistic in today’s world, but we must address things in a positive way.  We are in a dark valley.  There is light on the horizon.  We must keep pushing forward.

Negative Carbon Dioxide Emissions—This is the goal.  Not net zero, but net negative.

BlackRock’s Larry Fink: Risks from Climate Change are Bigger than the 2008 Financial Crisis with no Fed to Save Us—When the manager of a massive fund—over $7 trillion dollars in assets managed—says that the investment community better be prepared for climate change I am hoping that the markets listen.

The Solution to the Plastic Waste Crisis? It isn’t Recycling—The solution is to stop buying plastic stuff.  Actually, the answer is to just stop buying so much stuff.  Don’t worry about being a savage minimalist who excises the material demons from their home.  Just stop buying stuff and the space will naturally open up through attrition.

The Dark Side of ‘Compostable’ Take-Out Containers—Even if it is compostable, it is probably ending up in the trash.  If it is not reusable, it is probably ending up in the trash.  Plus, it’s really only compostable in specialized facilities as opposed to the black plastic bin in your backyard.  Trust me, I put one of those corn based forks in my bin as an experiment.  Two years later it still looked pretty much the same.

US Electricity: Solar Up 15%, Wind Up 9%–Now, imagine that these trends keep happening year after year.  The back of the envelope calculations show that solar would double every 4.8 years and wind would double every 8 years.

Iceland Reaches 25% EV Market Share! When Will The World Follow?—The world will follow when we price gasoline according to its impact on the climate.  Once all the externalities are accounted for there is no way people are going to pay a per gallon price for gasoline that is orders of magnitude higher than what we see at the pump today.  Just imagine if the United States figured out how much we spend on military adventures in the Middle East and applied that to each gallon of gasoline sold in the country?

Soil Health Hits the Big Time!—The dirt under our feet is full of possibilities.

Can New Bus Lines Chart a Course to Better Travel Options in the West?—The United States is never going to have the passenger rail network like Europe.  That is a good and a bad thing.  It is good when you consider that Europe will never have the heavy rail cargo network of the United States.  It is bad when you consider that transportation emissions from personal vehicles is such a big part of our climate change puzzle.  Maybe modern bus lines could help fill the gap.

Your $14 Salad’s Not as Eco-Friendly as Advertised — but Sweetgreen’s Trying—The key thing is that the company is trying.  We all need to keep trying.  BTW, who buys a $14 take out salad?

Panera Is Making Its Menu More Plant-Based to Become More Sustainable—The more mainstream vegetarian and vegan options become the better off we are as a society.  There is no reason why every fast food hamburger should not be some version of a Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger.  Why?  These are not the pinnacle of taste and texture.  Plus, the volumes of beef that would be replaced are tremendous.

Skiing is Better Without Performance Trackers—Apps that track our performance on the hill are killing the vibe.  I spent this Christmas break skiing without the Epic Mix app telling me how many vertical feet I had skied or what “badges” I had acquired.  It was freaking glorious.  Do you know what I thought about the whole trip?  Skiing.

Friday Linkage 11/2/2018

It is four days until election day.  I will start every post for next eleven days with the same message.

I just spent a few days in central Florida—hence the light linkage this Friday—and I do not remember ever being assaulted with that many political ads.  It’s not just the headliner races for Senate and Governor, but down ballot races were all over the airwaves.  It actually continued during my time driving south from Minneapolis where ads for the state’s attorney general race were omnipresent on the radio.

Thinking I escaped it all was but a wispy dream when I opened my mailbox to a flood of mailers for Iowa races.  Damn, I cannot wait until Wednesday.

I understand that it is hyperbole, to some extent, in claiming that this is the most important election in history.  However, I do believe that this may be the most important election in my lifetime.  At least until 2020.

On to the links…

Zinke and Trump Are Ignoring the Public—One of the tropes of the 2016 election was that of the “liberal snowflake” who was too brittle of psyche to handle direct criticism of foundational beliefs.  Does anyone find it funny just how scared of the public that Republican leaders are right now?  Who was really the “snowflake” all along?

‘Unfit to Serve’? US Interior Secretary Faces Fresh Ethics Scrutiny—Is “unfit to serve” going to be the term that describes the Trump era in American history?

A Guide to the Ryan Zinke Investigations—Just a handy breakdown of the corruption at the head of the Department of Interior.

The Older Kids Get, the Less Time They Spend Outdoors—This is probably true for most of us.  As we get older we spend less time outdoors.  Maybe that is a reason why we, as a society, are so broken.

Electric Vehicles are Going to Render the Fight over Fuel Economy Standards Moot—Trump can try and turn back the clock for automobile fuel efficiency, coal, or whatever strikes his Diet Coke addled brain at the moment but the march of progress is constant.

7 US States Set To Double Their Wind Capacity—These are good numbers, but not great.  I would like to see Iowa get back on the list of states deploying a lot of wind although I believe that the numbers for the fourth quarter of the year will be strong because of a few projects coming on line.

Is Australia on the Verge of Having too Much Solar Energy?—In short, no.  Do you notice a trend with these arguments?  First, it was renewables would be too small a percentage of the overall electricity supply to be relevant.  Second, it was renewables were too intermittent to be a reliable source of power.  Now, it is the threat of too much renewable energy.  If someone keeps moving the goal posts for measuring success you know you are doing something right that scares the shit out of them.

Coal Report says Australian Exports have Peaked and are in ‘Terminal Long-Term Decline’—My dad used to say that these large industries are like dinosaurs.  Even though they may be dead it takes a long time for them to roll over so that anyone actually notices.  The best thing we can do is find ways to hasten the decline.  Push that snowball downhill.

Tall Wood gets Green Light from Building Code—From the boring but important files.  Building codes are boring.  Like, very boring.  However, so much of what we build is determined by how building codes are implemented and adopted.

Low Cost, Low Energy Cooling System Shows Promise—On a hotter planet reducing the energy need for cooling will be a critical pieces in the fight to erase climate change.

Friday Linkage 8/3/2018

Election Day is 95 days away.  On November 6, 2018 the people of the United States have the best chance to show the world that Donald Trump and his coterie of right wing, e.g. Republican, enablers do not represent America.

Here in the 1st district of Iowa we have a chance to eliminate the stain of representation that is Rod Blum, a parody of late stage capitalist politician if ever there was one.  He has the benefit of being from the same state as Steve King so no one ever calls him the worst politician from the state of Iowa.

On to the links…

Friendly Policies Keep US Oil and Coal Afloat Far More than We Thought—This is where the fight needs to be in the near future.  Eliminate all subsidies for energy sources that contribute to climate change.  Seriously, do we need to spend public money to subsidize energy companies that have made more money than any other type of company in the history of mankind?

Congress Tries, Fails, to Destroy ANOTHER National Monument—Remember, this is a Congress led by Republicans in both chambers and they still cannot get anything done.  Government is not inherently incompetent, it is just incompetent when run by right wingers.

Dozens Of Lion Trophy Permits Issued To Hunters As Trump Rolls Back Import Hurdles—Donny Two Scoops is really looking out for the interests of the American people with this one.  How soon before Don Jr. or the goblin shark Eric come back from Africa with a mounted lion?

The EPA Just Undid Scott Pruitt’s Final Act in Office—This is why the election in November is so important.  Without a compliant Congress, any changes made by the corrupt Trump administration will be swept away with a change in the Oval Office.

Andrew Wheeler is Afraid to Revoke California’s Fuel Waiver. He Should Be.—The Trump administration is itching to fight over anything that even hints at the previous administration.  They should be careful about what they wish for when it comes to legal cases.

Coal Mining Has Destroyed 1.5 Million Acres of Appalachian Forest—Imagine if someone came up with a plan to restore these 1.5 million acres to something resembling a forest?  Imagine hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into a region for the largest environmental restoration project in the history of mankind?  I can imagine it being possible, can you?

From Coal Mines To Solar Farms: It’s Complicated, But Doable—The landscapes of coal country have been scarred by an extractive industry, see above, that has no interest in the long term viability of the communities or the health of the people left behind.

US Wind Installations To Surge Before PTC Phase-Out In 2021—We can all hope that by 2020 or so there is a more visionary government installed in the U.S. that extends these tax credits to continue one of the few positive developments in our energy infrastructure.

The $3 Billion Plan to Turn Hoover Dam Into a Giant Battery—The era of “big” public works seems to be over, but what if we could use all of that infrastructure to help the transition to a 100% renewable economy?

‘Peak Coal’ is Getting Closer, Latest Figures Show—This is why the deployment of renewables, energy efficiency, and demand destruction are so important.  Coal is teetering on the edge of economic relevance and we can topple the beast with a concerted effort.

Energy Dept. Coal and Nuclear Subsidy could Cost Average US Household $160 to $500 Per Year—As coal and nuclear are no longer competitive in the electricity generation marketplace it is now the responsibility of the American people to ensure that these companies make money.  Why?  Because they donate a lot of money to people like Donald Trump.  This is not about national security, it is about keeping coal companies humming along.

UPS Partners with L.A.-Based Startup Thor on Electric Delivery Truck—Electrification of the heavy and medium duty truck market would be a more cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions than trying to goose adoption through personal automobile electrification.  These commercial vehicles are driven a lot more, bought in large quantities by a single user, and can make an economic case better than personal automobiles.

Have We Reached Peak Storage?—I truly hope we have reached a point where we no longer need to build storage units external to our home to store stuff that we use so infrequently that it can be stored at a remote location.

Marie Kondo Wants You to Buy More Boxes—What the shit?  Is this when you know a trend has really “jumped the shark?”  I thought the idea behind this was to buy less stuff?  We’re all just pimps for something.

Why Your Kid Needs Time Just to Be—As parents we are a seriously neurotic bunch worrying about our kids future.  Maybe, just maybe, the key to raising a happy child is to let them be a kid once in a while.  Or, letting them just be a kid a whole lot.

Homestead and Jamaica North Trails Ride Report

This past weekend in Lincoln was a blast…okay, spending two days in a garage driving nearly 500 2” pan head screws for a slat wall in near 100 degree heat was not a blast but I did get to ride.  Specifically, I spent a morning on large chunks of the Homestead Trail and Jamaica North Trail southwest of the city.

For a lot of people this is the Homestead Trail:

IMG_1447

Look it up “Homestead Trail” on Google and this is likely to be in almost all of the images.  Yes, bridges and century old ironworks are cool but this bridge is about a mile south of the trailhead.  It is not like people are really getting deep into the trail to get their shots for Instagram.

The trail runs thirty miles almost due south from the trailhead on Saltillo Road in Lincoln to Beatrice.  I rode about halfway to Beatrice before a headwind really picked up and I started to get concerned about the rising temperature.  It was already in the low 80s by mid-morning.

The ride reminded me a lot of what the Cedar Valley Nature Trail used to be like before it was paved all the way into Center Point.  It’s not good or bad that the trail is paved.  It is just different.  The surface is a thin layer of crushed limestone—yay, limestone dust in every crevice—over packed dirt.  There were very few ruts and it did not seem like anyone had been out when the trail was wet to cause any trouble, which is more than I can say for some of the unpaved sections of the CVNT north of Center Point.  Whoever rode their fat bike on the trail and put a wandering two inch wide rut in the trail for about three miles can suck a fat one.  I digress…

At about the mid-point of my ride the Homestead Trail ran parallel to Highway 77 which is a four lane divided highway from Lincoln to Beatrice.  You will find yourself exposed to some serious wind in this section.  Be advised.

The Homestead Trail is connected to the rest of Lincoln’s trail via the Jamaica North Trail.  The Jamaica North Trail runs a little more than 6 miles north and south on the west side of Lincoln.  The southern portion is crushed limestone like the Homestead Trail and the northern section is paved.  I did not ride on any pavement for the portion I rode.

On a hot day this was a nice ride because it was shaded by thick vegetation.  The gnats were not even that bad on the day that I rode.  It was even too hot to eat a Runza.

Right now the biggest issue with this great trail pair is that most of the southern portion of Lincoln is isolated from the trail via active railroad tracks.  There is a fundraising effort underway to build a link connecting these trails to the existing Rock Island Trail near Densmore Park.  One can never have enough trails.

If you find yourself heading to Lincoln grab your adventure bike and get out on the trails.  The Great Plains Trails Network has some excellent maps to guide you on your way.

Remember, where the pavement ends is where unlimited possibility begins.

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Friday Linkage 4/6/2018

The weather here in Iowa has been brutal for spring.  It actually feels more like winter than spring.  Temperatures in the teens, snow in the forecast, cold winds blowing…you get the idea.  It is also killing my bike commuting since the one thing I am somewhat unwilling to deal with is ice covered roads.  Cars and trucks already view cyclists as sport targets.  I do not need to make their passion come any easier.

On to the links…

Sinclair’s Pro-Trump News is Taking Over Local TV. See if They Own Your Station.—The Sinclair Broadcast Group is the propaganda arm of Trump and whoever is on the president’s good side this morning.  Nothing more and nothing less.  Do not support the stations that these half-baked propaganda ministers own.

A Running List of Wild Shit Scott Pruitt Hasn’t Been Fired For (Yet)—As I go to press with this I am holding out hope that I have to amend this headline.

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Too Crooked to Fail: Why Scott Pruitt Still Has His Job (for Now)—I am really starting to love that every article about Scott Pruitt is followed with a “not yet” or “for now” when discussing his employment within the Trump administration.

Scott Pruitt’s Rent was Half what it Costs D.C. to Shelter Homeless Families—The thing about Trump and his “best people” is that these people are not even very good at corruption.  It is like they are not even trying to hide their corruption and incompetence.

Leaked EPA Talking Points Tell Employees to Sell the Climate Change ‘Debate’—Here is the problem with this directive: There really is not a debate among actual scientists.  The debate is among hacks, political hucksters, and right wing ideologues.  No one with half a brain and an actual interest in seeing a habitable planet thinks this is a debate.  Plus, Scott Pruitt is doing this so he can line the pockets of his masters.

Why Trump’s Base Probably Doesn’t Care About Corruption—For all of the fire and fury during the campaign about the alleged corruption of the Clintons you have to star in amazement at the sheer chutzpah of the current presidential administration when it comes to corruption.  Too bad Trumpkins—I saw that label on another site and just love it—do not care what happens as long as the vulgarian keeps “telling it like it is.”

Stunning Drops in Solar, Wind Costs Mean Economic Case for Coal, Gas is ‘Crumbling’—Crumbling is a serious word, but the fact that it is tied to phrase economic case makes me jump for joy.  When the economics have turned, the markets will turn.  When the markets have turned, coal and other dirty fossil fuels will only have the corrupt politicians in their pockets left.

FirstEnergy Shamelessly Begs DOE to Prop Up Uneconomic Coal and Nukes—Oh wait, it has already begun.  Just remember, when you are rich and powerful you just get to rewrite the rules of the market so that you maintain your wealth and influence.  The actual free market is only allowed to work when it hurts poor people and minorities and women and…you get the idea.

FirstEnergy Files for Bankruptcy after Begging Perry to Declare Power ’Emergency’—Looks like even with friends like Rick Perry FirstEnergy’s business model is screwed.

First Floating U.S. Wind Farm May Be Built Off California Coast—Unlike previous offshore wind farms like Cape Wind, a floating wind farm can be built in deeper water farther off the coast.  Also, California has a lot of coast off of which to build these wind farms and a desire to be free from fossil fuels.

College in Maui Reaches for Net-Zero Status with Solar Plus Storage—The first places that will completely untie themselves from the grid will be those with very expensive electric power or very unreliable electric power.  Maui is on the very expensive end of the spectrum, but it also has a culture and community that is dedicated to getting off of the very dirty diesel used to power the island.

Study: Wind and Solar can Power Most of the United States—We have moved past the question of “can we be powered completely by renewables?”  The question is now “how do we transition to 100% renewables?”

Rio Tinto Sells Last Coal Mine, Has Now Completely Exited Coal—This is not Patagonia getting out of coal.  This is a steely eyed multi-national mining conglomerate seeing that the future is not in burning a black rock.

Dubuque Landfill Hopes to Convert Gas from Trash into Fuel for Cars—If this is even mildly economic, why aren’t we tapping landfills across the country for the gas that could be repurposed?

Who do GOP Voters Like for 2024 Iowa Caucuses?—You have got be freaking kidding me.  Who is even thinking about the Iowa caucus that comes after the next Iowa caucus?  We are talking about six years from now with more than two of those years being Trump years, which are like ten years of any normal president not named Warren G. Harding.