Wednesday, December 28, 2016

America's First Offshore Wind Farm Starts Delivering Power

Off Rhode Island, Deepwater Wind's Block Island Wind Farm is now online, providing enough clean energy to power as many as 17,000 homes. Three years ago, I visited Block Island and wrote about how offshore wind would benefit Block Island.

Watch this report from Jerika Duncan of CBS News:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hydrogen Power: Only As Clean As Its Energy Source

Photo via Alstom
Germany has unveiled a hydrogren-fueled train that it's claiming is zero emissions. It might be! It could especially be progress on the vast majority of American rail lines that aren't currently electrified. But hydrogen is only as clean as the power used to make it, and most of the coverage seems to be ignoring that.

Hydrogen fuel isn't mined or collected directly - it's basically a battery loaded with power from other direct fuel sources. If it's solar or wind, it's zero-emissions! If it's coal or oil, you might as well just use coal or oil to power the train.

Every conversation about hydrogren I've ever had:
PERSON: It's hydrogen-powered! It's zero emissions!
ME: Hydrogren is not a fuel source. It's basically a battery. It's as clean as the power that was used to make the hydrogen fuel. What was used to make the hydrogen?
PERSON: Uh, I don't know.
ME: Was it coal?
PERSON: Maybe?
ME: So it could be a train powered by coal? Like the first locomotives they had in the 1800s?
PERSON: Man, you are depressing AF.
ME: It's a curse. (goes back to blogging like this)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

I Agree With This Big Polluter Lobbyist About Republican Climate Science Denial

When it comes to the Republican Party and global warming, I agree with the assessment of Thomas Pyle, head of the American Energy Alliance, a polluter front group. Here's what Pyle told Bloomberg's Zachary Mider about Jay Faison, a Republican who's spending $175 million of his own money trying to change the GOP's mind on climate science and clean energy:
“You can’t get to where he wants to be, in his lifetime, without a massive dose of good old-fashioned government intervention,” Pyle said. 
Republicans don't deny climate science because they don't know the facts or don't trust its scientific rigor. They deny it because all available solutions to global warming contradict their free-market dogma that big business alone can solve all of our problems (with a few government subsidies along the way).

The free market hasn't, and can't, solve the climate crisis any more than it solved our smog or dirty water problems - we needed the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to do that. But instead of altering their ideology, American conservatives just pretend global warming doesn't exist.

After years of trying to pretend the right messaging will trick Republicans into supporting clean energy and climate science, Faison is still beating his head against the wall of denial. Inexplicably, Faison says he may vote for Gary Johnson, who doesn't think we should bother trying to stop global warming.

Faison would be better off taking Jon Stewart's advice: "Let's stop pretending that concessions to the right will, at any point, sate the beast."

And as the Center for American Progress reports, many of Faison's donations have gone to Republicans with mixed - or flat-out poor - records on climate change. Imagine how much good Faison's $175 million might've done if instead he'd spent that money trying to defeat climate science deniers?

2016's Hottest Trend in "Tainted" Halloween Candy: Tweet First, 911 Later

A big red flag that's emerged in reports of "tainted" Halloween candy in recent years: People who post to social media before calling police, or who never actually call the police at all. That way you get all the attention, but none of the getting charged with filing a false report!

Here are 2016's reports so far, and I'll keep updating this post as the investigations continue:
  • A Halifax, Nova Scotia man says his son cut his thumb on a razor blade hidden in a candy bar. With his son's thumb still bleeding, the man did not clean the wound or put a Band-Aid on it - he took a picture of the bloody thumb and posted it to Twitter. 
  • Right after news of the first razor incident broke in Halifax, and more than 12 hours after trick-or-treating ended, a girl in a neighboring town suddenly found a razor in a piece of her candy.
  • A woman in Huntington, TX posted to Facebook that she found a needle in candy, but apparently hasn't called police. Two women in Marysville, WA also took to Facebook to report finding objects in candy
  • Someone reported finding a razor blade in candy in Manistee, MI. But get this: "Last year, police in the City of Manistee said two children had razor blades hidden in their candy. Police determined that a family member of the victims was behind that incident. The family member had mental-health issues, police said." Very few of the news reports on this year's incident are referencing last year's hoax. 
  • A woman in New Jersey reports finding a needle in candy. This incident is not far from last year's Philadelphia suburbs needle-in-candy hoax, though none of this year's local media coverage mentions last year's identical scare turned out to be hoax.
  • Woman in Wisconsin Rapids, WI says her child found a nail in a Tootsie Roll
  • Ottawa police have already declared one report of tainted candy "unfounded."
  • One Wyoming town apparently got extremely hype for tainted candy & scary clowns. "Rock Springs Police Public Information Officer Alison Deters said as of 10am, the department has received one call about suspicious candy which had liquid on the inside. Officers believe the candy may have had something spilled on it, or it broke during transport."
  • Update! First confirmed needle-in-candy hoax in Christiansburg, VA
Tainted Halloween candy is almost always a hoax, but that doesn't stop media and police from acting like every needle in candy is CERTAIN ATTEMPTED CHILD MURDER.

Watch Leonardo DiCaprio's "Before the Flood" in Full, For Free, Right Now

Friday, October 28, 2016

Exxon Finally Admits Global Warming Is Stranding Its Assets

Exxon Mobil is finally admitting to investors that billions of barrels of oil may be stranded assets - too expensive & too destructive to our climate to ever drill out & sell. That's after decades of deceiving the public on global warming. For the 3rd quarter of 2016, profits fell 38%.

"Oil companies are admitting the future isn't oil," tweets the Wall Street Journal's Christopher Mims. "Think of all the nations, not just stocks, this puts into terminal decline." 

And states - what about the budgets of Alaska, North Dakota, Louisiana, Texas and other places that are so heavily dependent on oil revenue?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Get Ready For 2016's Fake Tainted Halloween Candy Scares

Every year, headlines are filled with reports of tainted Halloween candy. Razor blades in apples! How would you hide one without making it completely obvious? They never say. Poisoned candy! But every kid knows exactly who gave what candy - if you wanted to hurt kids, giving out poisoned candy would be no more secretive than chasing kids around your neighborhood waving a rake.

Let's review 2015's Halloween candy danger scares that made national headlines. Not one of them was even confirmed as an actual attempt to hurt children, never mind an incident that actually hurt a child:
  • Gloucester, NJ: Man arrested for making own tainted candy & falsely reporting it
  • Kennett Square, PA: Kids admit making up report of finding needles in Twix bars
  • Hudson, NH: Cause never publicly identified for razor blade allegedly found in trick-or-treating bag; two years before in a neighboring town, a "razor blade in trick-or-treating bag" turned out to have fallen out of a pencil case
  • Manistee, MI: Razor blade in candy turned out to have been a hoax by a family member with mental health issues
  • Hopkinton, MA: New, wrapped discs of toilet bowl cleaner found in trick-or-treating bags, despite kids not being able to say who gave them out. This was apparently supposed to be dangerous because kids are so stupid they'll eat toilet bowl cleaner.
Poisoned Halloween candy is an urban legend, but that doesn't stop local and even national news from reporting every flimsy story as a WARNING FOR PARENTS TONIGHT. The follow-up news confirming the hoax inevitably gets much less coverage.

Don't inspect your kids' Halloween candy - it scares them for no reason.

And to follow the latest scares - which again, are almost always fake - follow Lenore Skenazy's Free Range Kids blog.

Friday, October 7, 2016

David Letterman, America's Funniest Climate Activist

Most global warming and clean energy humor is chuckle-chuckle amusing but not ha-ha funny. David Letterman is joining this season of Showtime's Years of Living Dangerously and he doesn't do mildly amusing - he does wicked funny:

Go like Years of Living Dangerously on Facebook for more videos & info.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Deregulate Parking, Says Obama Administration

Great to see the Obama administration come out in favor of housing for people over storage for cars:
“Parking requirements generally impose an undue burden on housing development, particularly for transit-oriented or affordable housing,” the paper states. “When transit-oriented developments are intended to help reduce automobile dependence, parking requirements can undermine that goal by inducing new residents to drive, thereby counteracting city goals for increased use of public transit, walking and biking.”

The anti-parking stance came from a “Housing Development Toolkit,” a broadside against zoning. The report says zoning “reduced the ability of many housing markets to respond to growing demand,” making affordable housing hard to find in high-price areas.

Nixing off-street parking is not the paper’s only recommendation. It also advocates taxing vacant land, making it easier to get permits and making cities more dense.
This is the opposite of a big government mandate - it's the Obama White House urging communities to get rid of local regulations that restrict new housing and smart growth.