Saturday, December 19, 2015

Finding Where U.S. Forests Have Been Undisturbed for a Quarter Century « Landsat Science

Finding Where U.S. Forests Have Been Undisturbed for a Quarter Century « Landsat Science:

This is a very cool study of the "old forests" that are undisturbed in the USA. The Northeast and the pacific maintained some undisturbed forests; the south was really bad. There are many plants, animals and entire ecosystems that rely on old forests. This study demonstrates how bad it is and how much worse it could get over the next few generations (of humans).

This is a 25 year study using landsat technology (through 2010), so it doesn't address the prior 200 years since the pilgrims came to visit north america.

One of the things that we harp on endlessly at this cite is the compounding effects of human actions. In this case. The study uses exponential decay to show the compounding effects of old forest degradation. In 100 years there would be only about 20% of the old forest left in a business as usual (BAS) scenario. But that number would drop to only about 4% in another 100 years. That means that in 200 to 300 years we could expect virtually no old forests to exist.

It would be interesting if the last 10 years are significantly different. The Great Recession caused commodity prices to plummet. Wood and paper were especially hard hit. The demise of coal -- mining and burning -- in the US would help as well. Urban sprawl, slowed to a crawl.

Haung points out that the big opportunities to mitigate (old) forest loss is in the south and by minimizing fires in the west. Of course, if we let the old forest go to near zero, we could have an easy opportunity for exponential regrowth. (I'm being facetious, of course, once forest -- especially old forest -- has be used for other purposes, it is nearly impossible to move it back to nature and keep it there for 100 years or more.)

Doctor Haung, what do you think the current trend might be? Are we starting to "bend the curve" (as the old addage in finance and climate change goes)?

Visit Dr. haung's Page at U of Maryland and see a link to the study here:

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Friday, December 18, 2015

What just happened in solar is a bigger deal than oil exports

What just happened in solar is a bigger deal than oil exports:

Interesting how the BIG move in solar/wind in the USA is so tied to subsidies. At least for the next 5 years. But, soon, especially with the volume of growth encouraged by the subsidies, there will no longer be a need for subsidies.

The really big loser all around is (dirty) coal. Once the health and environmental costs of coal are factored in, coal moves from our cheapest source of electrical energy to one of our worst. As well, wind and solar are improving in performance rapidly.

And then there are the environmental factors of coal that start to get uglier and uglier once you start to count pollution, the health and safety issues and the contribution to greenhouse gases. Other types of energy like oil and natgas are increasingly throwing coal under the bus, too.

So, renewable electrical energy could be really booming over the next 5 years with the continued subsidies. Those subsidies are being phased out; but it all looks like an excellent plan forward toward a more renewable USA.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Economists costs will be sooner and bigger for global temps

Here is what it kind of a think if we keep doing business as usual! Things could be worse and sinner than previously expected.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Great answers on climate and solutions.
This has been some of the clearest points about renewable energy, and why it is so important.

Monday, December 7, 2015

No food to waste

Chef Massimo Bottura on Why the Future of Food is in Our Trash

We throw away about $700 worth of food each year in the USA. That's per person, last I saw, which was probably about 10 years ago.

Think of the products taken from the shelf because they are past the due date.
Capturing most of this food can go a long way toward feeding a hungry planet.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Climate Leadership | Climate Leadership Plan |

Climate Leadership | Climate Leadership Plan |


On the eve of the humongous climate meetings in Paris next week (week after Thanksgiving in USA), Canada has stepped up to the plate on addressing climate changes.

Alberta is the home of Coal and Oil Sands: two of the great game changers in addressing pollution in general and Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHG).

There are several reports, but one is to simply charge a tax per metric tonne (yes, I know that's the colourful way to spell ton) of CO2. The price will move up from $15 to $30 per ton of CO2 by 2019.

In electric generation, the big game changer is to switch away from coal in general.

By 2030 in Alberta, "There will be no pollution from coal-fired

electricity generation." The focus will be on reduce electrical needs and switching to NatGas and Renewables.

But for Alberta, capping and steadily reversing the oil sands is a very big game changer.

With the oil glut keeping oil prices down below $50 per barrel for the foreseeable future, Alberta should be ramping down oil production anyway. (I think oil sands requires $70 to $80 to be profitable.).

The Carbon Taxes will be used: to offset increased living costs for poorer people, to assist with transition to renewables and other research.

For those still skeptical about Global Warming: Look at the pix of Athabasca Glacier over 100 years (well 98 really). Or look at any pictures over 40 years related to Glacier Bay in Alaska. Or, just a little south from Alberta, give a look at Glacier National Park in Montana (soon to be renamed Glacier-Less National Park).
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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Why are so many Americans skeptical about climate change? A study offers a surprising answer. - The Washington Post

Why are so many Americans skeptical about climate change? A study offers a surprising answer. - The Washington Post:

So lots of money used to confuse and misinform can go a long way if you want to make sure that no one knows the truth and no meaningful action is taken.

That brings us to Super PACs. They mostly lie, and always obfuscate the issues. Since there's no one responsible, they are free to throw mud and tar at will and at random.

Don't see how anything could go wrong with the political engines. Do you?

Misinform and misdirection works.
We all need to realize that and start propagating truths, not lies. The tools are at our fingertips (and keyboards).

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Power Struggle: How the Energy Market Could Shift in 2016 - Bloomberg Business

Power Struggle: How the Energy Market Could Shift in 2016 - Bloomberg Business:

Wow. Absolutely perfect assessment of the energy world, past and future.

With pretty graphics to go along with the trends in energy.

So what will be the energy source(s) of the future.

The one thing for sure, is that it won't be coal. As the rest of the world gets out of coal, so will the 2.3B people in China and India. They simply can't afford the pollution and health costs that come free with cheap coal.

The assessment seems puts energy into perspective, and indicates how a clear transition from one form to another (wood to coal, and coal to oil) might not be what we can expect to look forward to in the future.

Don't want to ruin the ending, you will have to watch all 3 minutes of the video to find out what to expect in the energy world.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

More than three in four Americans believe in global warming -

More than three in four Americans believe in global warming -

Finally. Even republicans have shifted to a majority accepting climate change. This is not a party thing; this is a human thing.

Once people start to realize that the earth is warming. And that people are generally responsible.

There tends to be a some obvious actions that we all must do, soon or later.

Sustainability is a law of nature that it is hard to break. Ignore it at your own risk, and everyone else's risk at well.

We promote doing smarter things now to bend the curve on the human impact on the earth. It is a compounding (geometric or exponential) kind of thing. Small(er) changes now make a BIG difference over time. Business as usual (BAS) simply compounds the issues and the problems.

Currently, this is a year of El Nino, so the record temperatures for 2015 are on path to exceed last year's record "by a mile".

Related to global warming and El Nino, check out Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded. Ouch!..

So lest start a call to action doing those actions that will save consumers, businesses, governments money while simultaneously making us all more sustainable.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Elon Musk and SolarCity Unveil ‘world’s Most Efficient’ Solar Panel

Elon Musk and SolarCity Unveil ‘world’s Most Efficient’ Solar Panel:

Wow. Greater than 22% efficient from solar panels. Far better than the lonely plant with about 5% efficiency from photosynthesis.

This is impressive.

Combine very efficient and affordable power generation with some great battery storage technology and suddenly the solar starts to become an irrefusable option: gotta do it because it is the best available option where the sun shines regularly!

Maybe the batteries should be portable. In your car(s) even!:-)

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Solar and wind just passed another big turning point, Cheaper n Better

Solar and wind just passed another big turning point:

So solar and wind power generation is reaching a threshold where renewable energy is cheaper than fossil fuel-based power in Germany and UK. That is before counting the subsidies for renewables, and ignoring the massive externality costs of our historically favorite dirty black fuel.

Note the discussion of the virtuous cycle of renewable fuels. As base load power moves up from 5% renewables the costs of traditional power plants becomes more expensive, essentially they become more peak-power generators and less base-load power.

Solar has the added advantage of offing more distributed power generation, usually at the point of use. So solar starts to really cut down on the massive loss of power over distribution channels.

In the US, really cheap NatGas is a no-brainer decision for converting coal plants. It is so much cleaner in all respects. But new fossil fuel power plants will be harder and harder to justify to shareholders and to the PSC.

In the meanwhile, nuclear sits on the sidelines, leaving fission and fusion as a non option in the foreseeable future.

If momentum builds for homeowners and businesses to move to at-source power generation (say Solar City), the building momentum could be a real game-changer.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Is 2015 The Year Soil Becomes Climate Change's Hottest Topic? | ThinkProgress

Is 2015 The Year Soil Becomes Climate Change's Hottest Topic? | ThinkProgress:

Global Soil Week was last week.

It slipped by without even a stain on the knees for most of us.

Give a look at this recount of the week's activities and the progress to address the issues we are generating for out soil, our top soil and the planet in general.

This is really ugly. One estimate is that we could deplete all top soil within 60 years. (Gotta question this one a little bit, but the concept is valid.)

And new studies show that the problem gets worse and worse as the temperatures of the planet rise.

Really ugly.

Smarter ag management and no-till farming is a great place to start on the critical, really CRITICAL, environmental issue.

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No PTA For Divisional Application ... 20 years +/-

No PTA For Divisional Application | PharmaPatents:

When does a 20 year patent turn out to be more than a 20 year patent... Patent Term Adjustments.

Okay, so under certain situations, an extension can be requested to the 20 years that the US has for patent applications after 1995. The idea is that for such applications as pharma the long lead time in all approvals through the PTO and the FDA and more... can significantly reduce the useful life of the patent. So Patent Term Adjustments, PTA, (not to be confused with when your parents got together with teachers and the principal), are sometimes allowed. This is the reason that your friendly Patent Attorney will usually say "a patent is the arrangement with the government to offer a monopoly on your invention for about 20 years when you disclose the invention in the formal patent process".

Okay, so PTAs are sometimes allowed, but the extensions can be very qwerty. In this case, you would think that the term adjustments to the main, parent, application would be afforded to the patent applications associated with dividing that original application. Not so, it would seem.

Very interesting, and a very well written article on the whole issue (POSTED BY COURTENAY C. BRINCKERHOFF)

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cree Likes its LEDs... Helps colleges and others save lots of money & energy.

San Diego Community College District – San Diego, CA

San Diego Community College District is the recipient of the APPA’s 2015 Sustainability Award recognizing and advancing sustainability excellence in educational facilities. An CREE want a little school credit. The upgrades used Cree® LED lighting upgrade with SmartCast® Technology.

Looks good.

In the meanwhile, Ikea stores are moving to only selling LED lights by 2016. Read here about Idea's LED ideas.  They argue that about 20% of electric energy use in the world comes from lighting. So if LED lights can reduce that by about 85%. That is a BIG Woo Hoo for the environment too.  The savings of energy/electricity are really only a small part of the savings. Other lights produce huge amounts of heat, which generally increase air conditioning costs. It takes time and money to buy replacement bulbs, install the new and dispose of the old. The costs to a business are huge. Whereas the LED light will not be replaced in many of our lifetimes. 

LED lights now have much better light quality, and many are dim-able. 

Oh. And if you love CREE's products and services, be careful buying the stock of the company.  Even with all their patents and proprietary technologies, this is an overly competitive market. 

Very cool. 

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ain't no Global Warming Here. {insert your facts here}

In comes another commentary saying 10 reasons why there is definitely no such thing as global warming. This one includes evidence that the mooses (moose population) are doing much better. Huh!...
I simply direct people to look at the multiple databases of actual real-live data related to each and every conceivable measure of global warming. Look at the data yourself. Draw it out, and then start discarding junk that misrepresents the facts. There are between 2 and 6 sets of data available for each of the things you might consider related to global warming. Let's say: earth temperature, air temperature (lower, middle, upper atmosphere), ocean temps (surface & deep), ice packs of glaciers melt offs (ice extents and ice thicknesses)... Not only are these not pretty pictures (graphs really), but some show acceleration. :-( 
Here's what the facts show: Climate Change (unarguable fact, happening everywhere), Global warming (fact), Acceleration of global warming (less easy to prove, but visible), Human cause of climate change (lots and lots of correlations, but not an exact cause-and-effect). Check out Global Warming at Wikipedia (the best summary of information available).
Catastrophic Human Caused.... {whatever} ... This is a matter of probabilities here, but the chances get uglier and uglier once the facts on the ground get uglier.
Humans causing massive disruptions to each and every one of our earth systems. We're not just disrupting them, we are breaking them.
Give a look at the WikiBook by Hall (2013 and updated in 2015). It has a foreword of his own text and thoughts followed by active links into current Wikipedia pages (articles). This way each and every page is totally up-to-date. Wikipedia is the best single source/compilation of information in the world about each of the topics listed. If you question the facts in the articles, then complain. Even better, if you question the facts, research them and post a substantiated correction to the article.
Each page has hundreds, if not thousands of followers. And the editorial review for these mature pages is very tight. It is not really possible for a Green-Greenie or a King-Coal Denier to jump in and put crappy miss-information.
In fact, if you find that the facts are wrong or misleading on any of the pages, let us know, and we will gladly assist with the correction(s).
Check it out, here's The Sustainability WikiBook:  Scroll to the bottom for an organized table-of-content set of links to Sustainability information in Wikipedia.
Expect each of the links to have been updated repeatedly within the last week or so as new facts/figures and research become available and contributors update the Wikipedia store of knowledge.
There's a very good source that shows graphs, charts and facts related to climate change and those who would deny it exists:  It has lots of real information combined with debunking bogus arguments. This is a great source of facts. Visit with an open mind. 
Make no doubt about it, being wrong about the warming of the planet would make lots of people including the SustainZine folks very happy. Unfortunately the facts don't lead that way. What seems like a bit of a slowdown in the rate of temperature increases, does not hold up under careful scrutiny. Contributions to what seems like a minor slowdown of the up-rise in temperature are illusive one you factor in mild solar activity, volcano activity and increased pollution (from China and India's coal).

Monday, August 3, 2015

Obama to Unveil Tougher Environmental Plan With His Legacy in Mind - The New York Times

Obama to Unveil Tougher Environmental Plan With His Legacy in Mind - The New York Times:

There's some good and some bad about this.

We really should have an energy policy in the country, but we don't. And the congress should be doing that planning and guiding of long-term energy and economic development. But no.

The video says saving on energy. That's not true, it will cost more for energy, the massive savings will come from improved health. Coal causes huge health and environmental impacts.

"The Clean Power Plan will ultimately save about $45 billion a year, the EPA says, by both shrinking Americans’ energy use and reducing health costs for asthma, lung cancer and other illnesses caused by air pollution. The EPA estimates the rule will also cut about $85 a year from the average American’s utility bill."  via USA News.

Expect that the costs at the meter will be more, especially since it is so easy for the power utilities to pass them on, given a good (or bad) excuses. However, the health savings are each and every year forever. These are massive savings. Probably far greater than the $45B or so estimated.

The switch from coal is happening already without any such effort by the EPA. Clean(er) NatGas has been over-abundant and been the main gainer over the last 8 years. Also, we flair about half of the NatGas in the USA from fracking, why not figure out how to flair it into an electric generator and wire the energy back home?

Two secrets of coal is that about 10,000 people die each year in mining accidents, mostly coal. That's more than die in many years from natural disasters. The really dirty little secret of coal is coal ash. It has very high levels of heavy metals and such. It appears that we have no plan as to what to do with the ash, so it sits around in every state just waiting for disaster. Much like we have not plan for Nuclear waste.

NatGas is far better than coal, but it is still not sustainable. Since power plant planning is 50 to 100 years forward thinking, it seems that we should be doing likewise. Wind only works when the wind blows. Solar only works with the sun signs.

It seems that if we had a plan to be sustainable eventually, we would be better able to make decisions on the actions that a rational man (or woman) would make today.

Sadly, the coal miners and coal economies are stuck in the middle of this ugly downturn to their livelihood way of life.

Just saying...

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Sweden's Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn't Anyone Tried This Before? | Solutions

Sweden's Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn't Anyone Tried This Before? | Solutions:

Here is an novel approach to prostitution. Who do you put in jail/prison, the John or the Jane.

This Swedish approach didn't decriminalize prostitution, which apparently has it's own problems. It totally decriminalized for the prostitute, but criminalized for the John. Read the logic and how surprisingly well it has worked since 1999. Also, what it took to support this change in mindset. And how it virtually eliminates human sex trafficking.

When you take this change in mindset into the laws against drugs, where half of the US prison population is non-violent drug offenders.  Lots of implications for lots of old school crime and punishment.


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Sustainability becomes a business law: Organic is more productive

Sustainability becomes a business law:

Two things resurfaced over the last couple days. One is very local to Florida related to Sustainability is the Business Law. It looks at the focus of sustainability from the business view, or from the environmental view; which is the right view. And the answer, of course, is "Yes".  Aiming for a win, win in the business vs. environment tug of war. The old approach of win-lose turns out to be a lose-lose in the long run.

But a separate study by the Rodale Institute, with a 30-year long (and ongoing) study of farming showed organic farming to be a hands-down winner over the mass production methods used in the USA. Actual link to the study is here:

That study knocked my socks off!
Now I gotta go socks shopping for new organically grown socks (bamboo-based
A 30+ year field study on Organic farming vs. non-organic (now including GMOs).
Yields up, resources down (water us and drought tolerance), soil quality, profits up…
And, of course, there is a major move in consumer preferences toward healthier foods and more local grown foods as measured by massive moves by such players as Chipotle’s (CMG) and Whole Foods (WFM)… and against the highly processed foods like McDonalds (McD).
I’m curious what other people think of this study. I wonder how they did several things.
Also, I
could not find the exact publication date. The stats were a year or two behind.
Do you all think that the field study is fully accurate?

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

BIG BP payout settlement of $18.7

BP to Pay $18.7 Billion to Settle Deepwater Horizon Spill Claims
Put a huge amount of the BP litigation behind it.
This would be the same as all the profits that the company has made since 2012. However the payment schedule is 1.1 million dollars per year.
Yes, BP was pretty irresponsible back then. But it still makes one wonder what if it were not such a big company that can afford to make all of the payments and restitution? If this has been done by a small company, or a non-multinational company, then the whole cost of the oil spill would have gone to governments and individuals.
So, feel free to hate BP, but it could have been a lot worse on the pain and recovery side.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Wind And Solar Will Soon Become The 'Least-Cost Option' - Yahoo Finance

Wind And Solar Will Soon Become The 'Least-Cost Option' - Yahoo Finance:

It is interesting how quickly the prices of wind and solar have been dropping and are expected to continue.

Obviously, these must be only a part of the solution, unless batteries get to be a whole lot better, a whole lot faster. (Maybe?). The wind doesn't always blow, and the sun doesn't always shine.

One savings for solar, is that it doesn't need to be done remotely. The transport/distribution costs can be much lower. Both sun & wind do not require the massive volumes of water that conventional fossil and nuke need. (Except for the manatees, there is no real reason to heat up rivers and lakes.)

Those folks in the coal industries, even in China, are soon going to find that they are missing the boat. Coal is not sustainable. Once people start to think harder and longer about the externalities costs of coal, it is going to continue the downward spiral from favor.

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EPA loss in supreme court.

High Court Strikes Down EPA Limits on Mercury Emissions
The EPA must consider the cost of compliance when coming up with rules. That's what the Supreme Court ruled.
Of course it is hard to estimate the cost of the pollutants, that have been going on for a couple centuries now.
With natural gas being so cheap, and most of the conversions already complete, the whole issue is rather mute point.
But it does set back EPA action on CO2 emissions, where is the coal lobby would like to consider the cost of externalities nonexistent.
Still in the absence of Congress and its inability to do anything, you have the problem of the Fed and the EPA trying to do the heavy lifting.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Growth is always good? No matter the costs!

Saving can be hugely benefiting to all. But it doesn't show up in increased sales and higher GDP.
A bigger, newer SUV is always better...

Friday, June 19, 2015

Sixth mass extinction is here, researcher declares.

Sixth mass extinction is here, researcher declares:

Ouch. It looks like we need to clean up our collective acts. With 41% of amphibians and 26% of mammals on a course for extinction if we don't change our ways.

"To history's steady drumbeat, a human population growing in numbers, per capita consumption and economic inequity has altered or destroyed natural habitats. The long list of impacts includes:

*Land clearing for farming, logging and settlement

*Introduction of invasive species

*Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification

*Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems

Now, the specter of extinction hangs over about 41 percent of all amphibian species and 26 percent of all mammals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains an authoritative list of threatened and extinct species.

"There are examples of species all over the world that are essentially the walking dead," Ehrlich said."

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

One of the ongoing roadblocks to full sustainability has been what to do with plastics that are no longer in use.  From the empty prescription bottle that gets thrown in the wastepaper container to the plastic container holding the fish bought at the supermarket, plastic cannot be recycled and is certain to be in landfills forever.  Well, not any more and that is very good news for those who believe in sustainability.  Plastic 2 Oil Inc ( in Grand Island, NY, near Niagara Falls has a patent pending process that has been determined to be scale-able for converting plastic to oil with enough recyclable energy to supply part of the energy needed in the process.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has determined that the process can be scaled.  The company has completed its first non-exclusive licensing  of its process to Eco Navigation LLC in Victor, NY.

Visitors to the website should read "$8.9 Billion US Annual Impact" for more information on the potential of the technology.

Plastics 2Oil Inc is listed on the OTC exchange (PTOI)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Fast 10 sustainability leadership tips | GreenBiz

'Fast 10' sustainability leadership tips | GreenBiz:

There are great tips.

I really like the "building a business case" tip.  If you can't build a pretty good business case for something, then it makes a case for change that is usually hard, nearly impossible.

Getting ahead means that you can play offense, not defense.

Langert is from McDonald's so he has had his work cut out for him. When McD has tried to introduce more healthy foods, the consumer usually hasn't been buying it... they go to McDonald's for BIG Mac and fries.

McD really grew sales after the Great Recession. Until 2014, when sales slumped (same-store sales). Consumers have been going for healthier foods like Chipotle.
* Check out the healthier Corner McCafe by McDonald's.
* Is Chipotle really healthier than McDonald's?

It would be interesting to see what Langert recommended for McDonald's. Healthier fair would likely be slower fair, ... and in a few weeks, it won't be there.

That doesn't make Langert's advise any less valuable. But in some places it is a whole lot easier to go more sustainable than in others.

Makes you wonder what Hall and Knab (2012) would suggest related to how these 10 tips fit into the profile of a Sustainable Leader?

Hall, E., & Knab, E.F. (2012, July). Social irresponsibility provides opportunity for the win-win-win of Sustainable Leadership. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 7. Social responsibility, (pp. 197-220). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press.
(Available from, ISBN: 978-0-9840054-2-0) 
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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Inside the war on coal

Inside the war on coal:

Wow, this is a very thoughtful and well presented article on Coal.

The real demise of coal is too fold: raising costs of trying to make coal a little cleaner (less dirty); and the increase of cheaper alternatives.

Number 1 in all of this is the dirty cheap costs of NatGas which is a by-product of much oil production. We in the US flair about half of the NatGas we produce because it gets in the way of the valuable oil production process.

NatGas is soooo much cleaner to burn and produces only half the CO2 emissions.

As people and communities realize the real costs of burning (dirty) coal, the political will to back coal simply because it is cheap is seriously waning. As the externality costs start to mount, people are less inclined to have the plants in their back yard.

But, the Sierra club can not take that much of the credit. Basic economics is ruling. The EPA wants cleaner coal, which makes it more expansive at the same time that NatGas, wind and solar are all getting better and cheaper.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Top 15 Contaminated Fish You Shouldn't be Eating

Top 15 Contaminated Fish You Shouldn't be Eating:

What's the USDA recommendation for Mercury intake?

If you eat some of these fish, you will exceed safe levels if you eat it more than once every couple weeks. Sharks and swordfish I new about, but others in the list are a real eye-opener.

Biomagnification is where toxic chemicals such as mercury build up more and more as it moves up the food chain (to humans).

This is a really good article with lots of good information on sustainability and safe eating levels of fish.

Maybe salmon will move up on many people's list. Sustainable, wild would be best, of course.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Here it is the United Nations water report for 2015:

As California suffer through water shortage, imagine what the rest of the world looks like. Now, imagine what the rest of the world will look like in the year 2050?
By that time we should have moved to a population of 9 to 11 billion!
The first chapter is on non-sustainable uses of water. The trends, including use of water, that are not sustainable, have a way of ending on gracefully!
Case in point, California.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Climate-change deniers are in retreat - The Washington Post

Climate-change deniers are in retreat - The Washington Post:

It will be nice to move past the non-debate about is there global warming, and move off into the real debate.

We are all living unsustainable lives with non-sustainable business models. What is our plan to move toward sustainability. Singly and collectively?

The argument that it doesn't do any good for us to do something if China and India continue consuming is sad and ironic.

For a century, we in the US with only 4.5% of the worlds population, have consumed about 1/4 of all the worlds resources consumed/used... Coal, Iron, Gas, etc.

We have produced about 1/4 of the worlds byproducts for a century (pollution and CO2).

We at this blog like to focus on those things that can be done within weeks, not decades. Energy Efficiency (EE) initiatives can pay for themselves in weeks, with a perpetuity of savings forever after. Telecommuting can result in a perpetuity of savings for ever (until you start a new job that requires a commuting).

We argue that nobody anywhere can reasonably believe that the price we pay at the pump of oil and at the meter for coal power is accurate and represents the true cost. Gas taxes continue to pay less and less of the US road maintenance, for example.

Economist generally settle on a carbon tax as a better solution than either subsidizing green energy/cars or a cap-and-trade mechanism. There will never be a better time to initiate a carbon tax then 2014 when oil prices are half and should be reasonably low for a year or more.

Or, we can continue to consume oil and gas like as if there is no tomorrow.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Smart tech solution to save the rain forest.

Topher White: What can save the rainforest? Your used cell phone #TED :
This is a great solution to illegal loggers.
Very cool solution.
The importance of rainforest deforestation may be overstated with the stats. It may not be more important than anything else... But there are several ways to look at it. Very, very important though.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Another massive meltoff of Antarctic glacier. Really ugly likely outcomes.

The melting of Antarctica was already really bad. It just got worse.
Wow. Another area, like the west of antartcica, could result in massive ice melt from the ocean side up!
Each shelf/sheet could add about 10 feet to ocean rise, maybe 25% more for the northern hemisphere.

Don’t Confuse Sustainability with CSR | Ivey Business Journal

Don’t Confuse Sustainability with CSR | Ivey Business Journal:

Definition of sustainability -- essentially not imposing additional costs on the future -- is quite different from Corporate Social Responsibility, which looks at balancing the needs of all current constituents.

This is a very cool article that addresses the key issues that differentiate sustainability from CSR. Even though sustainability is overused and frequently missuses, it is a better term to use and a better utopia to aim for.

"It is time for organizational leaders to stop confusing responsibility with sustainability, which hinders businesses from thinking deeply enough about the inequities created by their actions over time. Simply put, some activities are either responsible or they are sustainable, not both."

The article talks about resources, but does not frame things in terms of the process of resource depletion, like the consumption of fossil fuels. Sustainability identifies the issue. CSR aims to offer some restitution, kind of. Neither really addresses the issues of non-sustainable natural resource consumption well.

Unintended consequences happen with CSR, with sustainability, and especially with non-sustainable activities. Lot's of unintended consequences happen with non-sustainable actions.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Falling Chinese Coal Consumption and Output Undermine Global Market - WSJ

Falling Chinese Coal Consumption and Output Undermine Global Market - WSJ:

Finally, Finally, Finally...

China has finally started to cut back on it's production and use of dirty coal. China now consumes far more than half of the world's coal.

It's a perfect time for them to do so, with all energy prices so low, the Chinese economy growing slow(er) and the costs/consequences of pollution from coal becoming more and more conspicuous.

It is also interesting that this article talks about peak coal. It seems that peak oil and peak coal have been pushed back with the overwhelming supply of cheap(er) oil and gas from new technologies (fracking, horizontal drilling, etc.)

In China's case it may be peak pollution, where the health costs, environmental costs and quality of life costs are are starting to overpower the perception of coal being a cheap energy source.

Doing non-sustainable stuff, especially for long periods of time, has its costs and unintended consequences.

Sustainable Growth...

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Why science is so hard to believe... It's in the Kool-Aid - The Washington Post

Why science is so hard to believe - The Washington Post:

 hit the nail on the head with this article.

Ever wonder why you can talk with otherwise intelligent people and you suddenly drop into the twilight zone.  They suddenly are totally convinced that the earth is flat, and there's no arguing with them.Or they are totally convinced the fluoride in water is a horrible government conspiracy to ... 

It is in the water. Or the Kool-Aid. Each group, tribe if you will, is drinking a different flavor. And you drink enough of it, the facts get a little wacky.!!!

This is a wonderful opinion letter. 

Here also is a great article as well on the distrust of science by Americans. It includes Pew Research on the topic. 


Achenback argues against the idea of scientist taking a more proactive stance. He argues that when scientist step off of the ivory tower to wrestle in the mud of politics and public policy they get dirty-ugly like the rest of us. (Well, something kind of like that argument anyway.)

So, it appears, that many people only want to hear what they want to hear. If it doesn't match with their world view, then they switch to a channel that matches...

And so we have the world's most information rich environment, with exponentially more information available each decade, yet ignorance runs rampant. It is almost impossible to believe that such is possible. But it is.

For several years now I keep returning to the wise axioms of Rotary International. In the 4-way test, of all we say and do... "First, is it the truth?" 

Ignoring the truth (ignoring the facts) has a nasty way of coming back around and biting you in the butt if/when you get it wrong.

We like to focus on sustainability. Things that are sustainable rather easy to view mathematically. Eating 4,000 calories per day, and burn only 2000, you are apt to gain weight. Burn 9m barrels of oil per day (42 gals each) pumping the hydro & carbons into the atmosphere and you are changing all kinds of things in the atmosphere (and environment). [These carbons have been sequestered in the earth for some 5 to 50 million years.] The resulting imbalances  will have effects and side-effects. Guaranteed. Predicting them accurately may not be easy. Assuming that doing non-sustainable things won't cause a problem because they never caused a problem before, has some very serious logic flaws. 

So, let's all move away from the flavored waters and start seeking out the crystal clear true of the facts and the issues. We'll all have a healthier outlook, and healthier teeth as well.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

New Look at Oil Reserves, Renewables and Climate Change

New Look at Oil Reserves, Renewables and Climate Change

There is a long term energy competition battle ahead between renewables and fossil fuels.  Just as the prices for renewable energy sources, mainly solar and wind, have fallen markedly, our irrepressable technolgy advances have enabled us to find vast new oil reserves under our feet.  Check this out to see what we have in billions of barrels:

So, this likely means the prices of gasoline and home heating oil will stay low for some time and it is also likely that Congress will get around to lifting the ban on exporting oil.  Good for the consumer? Yes and very much 'no.'  From an out-of-pocket perspective, lower costs, more disposable income.  From the standpoint of the environment, more oil means more carbon emissions for a longer period of time even considering the ongoing sustainability efforts of large companies and many cities around the world.
It seems we have our feet planted firmly in mid-air on the dilemma of climate change, human activity causation and the profit motive.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

BBC News - The goats fighting America's plant invasion

BBC News - The goats fighting America's plant invasion:

A different approach to invasives. That would be Kudzu. I wonder how it works with balsam pear in Florida? How about the melaleuca?

Old school, but an effective approach to attach invasive plants is the old goat trick.

What I didn't realize before reading this article, is that the double chew and strong processing of the stomach reduce the changes of seed making the passage through the digestive system (and coming out carefully planted and fully fertilized).

First heard about the herd from NR.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record | NASA

NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record | NASA

This is a good recap of the tie in to record warming with human activity.

It also give links the the raw data and the detailed methodology.

Anybody want to play with the raw, unadulterated data, you will find a LOT of it; and no matter which way you look at it trend line appears. And the trend line is very depressing.


This blog is devoted to easy, affordable solutions that can be implemented right now, in a business friendly way. In fact, the first things that can be done, energy efficiency and telecommuting, offer huge savings to everyone concerned (and a nice boost in the direction of sustainability).

Why not start by picking the low-lying fruit now, and then address the heavy lifting as the next step.

Orrrr, we all can wait and wait until governments to get into the mix to help us all with the problems.:-(

We like the business now solution.

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's Official: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record (watch the data unfold)

It's Official: 2014 Was the Hottest Year on Record:

This is a very cool -- oops, hot, I mean -- visual of the earth temperatures over recent decades.

As you will see, the monthly averages and the annual averages spike up year after year. Only a few monthly numbers are higher now then in 1995 and almost no monthly numbers are higher than the 20th century average.

2014 was unusual as a hot year because is was not an el nino year. This was a "normal" year in which 5 of the hottest months on record occurred. 2014 outpaced the prior hottest months of 2010 and 2005.

You have to go back a decade to find a coldest record month. That's some ugly statistics, no matter how you look at it.

Here's a different graphic of combined land and surface temperatures in this US Today article. Notice that you could start over with a trend line at about 1995 and produce a new trend line that is simply higher than the historical average of a century.

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Study: sea levels rising quicker than previously estimated - Blue and Green Tomorrow

Study: sea levels rising quicker than previously estimated - Blue and Green Tomorrow:

This is a bit of good news which really is really bad news related to sea level rise.

The good news, if you can call it that is sea levels appear to have been rising far slower during the first century of the industrial revolution than previously measured (estimated). Apparently the tidal measures that have been around for centuries didn't represent some areas well, the poles and Florida, for example. A new study publishing in Nature analyzes and adjusts for the big gaps in prior ocean level measures. This is from a study in the journal NatureHere.

The bad news, is that the last few decades have been more than twice what was measured/estimated.

At the new rate of 3mm per year, sea levels should rise only about one foot over the next 100 years. But this doesn't count thermal expansion of the oceans warming (thermal expansion) over time such that a couple degrees centigrade should produce yards of increased sea levels once the temperature works its way through some 2 miles of ocean (on average).

If this doesn't make you nervous, you have been munching out a little too much on Colorado brownies, and not living very close to the sea shore.

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