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Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends for September, 2018

This may be my last Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends.  KSKQ has changed the two-hour Morning Show, changing the first hour to Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!  After three years of bringing in such tools and trends, I may start an evening radio show, The Liberal Hour, or invest my time in other related ventures.

KSKQ 9-4-18

Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends

Check out the NASA graphic showing particulates and smoke from fires around the world.  We’re number 1!


In a mere two days, CNBC published 40 articles about Tesla.  An evaluator found 31 of them to be negative, and just 2 positive.  Why so hypercritical when the advances are so hyper successful?

I reported last week about Ontario’s new premier Ford trying to deny Tesla their due after he crashed their rebate program.  A judge has ruled in favor of Tesla.

The standard auto-makers are starting to make electric cars, but they aren’t advertising them, then they claim there isn’t a demand.

The CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) is dedicating $1B over the next 10 years to install solar panels on low-income rooftops.  They plan to install 300 MW by 2030.

A new method of extracting lithium will open up supplies for the batteries.  There is no longer a shortage of supply expected for cars, home storage or cell phones.

James Dyson, who came to prominence and money via his powerful vacuum cleaners once tried to clean up diesel exhaust.  In a 20 minute drive, he’d collect a cup of gooey crud. So he recently put down $150M for an unused airfield in England and has put to work some 2000 engineers developing an electric car.  While he recently put some £15M on solid-state batteries then dropped it, it could be he has come on an even better solid state battery. (Such batteries could weigh half of the Lithium Ion versions, and they can’t catch fire.)  He is also interested in electric airplanes.

KSKQ 9-11-18

Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends

NASA continues to show how melting permafrost in the Arctic is releasing old frozen methane, driving climate change all the faster, especially in thremokarst lakes.  Sudden thawing affects old 2 to 40 thousand years old methane, some of which reaches down as far as 260 feet in soils.  While the corresponding carbon dioxide release will stimulate plant growth, it doesn’t equal the warming.  These added releases were not included in early climate forecasts of the IPCC.

As we warm, vectors for disease multiply.  Mosquitos, ticks and other disease-carrying insects are multiplying and thriving in new climes, aided also by standing waters from floods.  Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, Malaria and flesh-eating bacteria are all on the rise. Colder winters used to fend most off; now they flourish in many new areas.

Unlike Trump’s solar panel tariffs, the EU has removed tariffs on Chinese, Taiwanese, and Malaysian solar cell imports.  Europe and China will benefit; we won’t, except by enjoying less pollution in our shared atmosphere.

Huge wind and solar farms in Africa’s Sahara would help cool and moisten that desert.  Some see the region as the powerhouse for Europe’s electricity.

GM is partnering with Delta Americas in developing a fast-charge technology.  Using solid-state transformers, they claim to offer a 180 mile charge in a mere 10 minutes. Given that many commuters drive 30 mile round-trips, a weekly 10 minute charge would suffice.  Some are wondering if this would only fit GM cars, or whether it would be ubiquitous for all EVs.

California has dedicated $830M to a rapid “behind the meter” battery storage system, mostly in people’s houses.  They want to stimulate the in-house batteries to buffer the overall draw on public utilities.  Why not store the excess energy from the daytime where it is gathered and used directly?

Meanwhile, in neighboring Arizona, their Public Service Company is shunting some $6M into hiring a firm to try to disqualify some of the 480,000 signatures (of the 226,000 required) for an initiative that would amend their constitution to require the state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.  The Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona petition is in-part funded (about $1M) by Tom Steyer.  Arizona utilities already have a 15% clean energy mandate for 2026, but they don’t want this one that would entail their shutting down a favored nuclear plant. The Arizona utility is prepared to spend $11M of ratepayer money in defeating a petition many of its ratepayers want.

KSKQ 9-18-18

Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends

Boyan Slat founded Ocean Cleanup when he was 18, some 5 years ago.  So far it has raised $20M and he has stimulated designs to address plastics in the oceans. One idea is a floating U shape tube with a 10 foot curtain hanging underneath.  The top tube catches large plastics and the curtain gathers them down to 1 centimeter, hopefully without catching fish or plankton.  There are 1.8T tons of plastic in the ocean now, and the disposable water bottle industry makes 1 million a minute.

Amazon is now one of the two trillion dollar companies – along with Apple.  Owner Jeff Bezos is reported to be worth $182B.  Yet when trying to start up their own delivery service (to regain the profits now going to Fed Ex, UPS and USPS) they opted to order 20,000 diesel-powered delivery vans.  While such similar electric vans are still in short supply, Amazon could have ordered a few electrics or plug-in hybrids to demonstrate some concern for running a clean business.  Instead, these 20,000 vans will spew injurious pollutants for the next 20 years.

Similarly, GM is now touting diesel as “clean” and “renewable.”  Both are misleading claims.  GM also still supports the Alliance of American Auto Manufacturers, a joint lobby group out to undercut the mileage requirements of the Obama era in favor of Trump-level pollution.  GM has come out with the Chevy Volt and the Chevy Bolt, but these are the exceptions to the old rule.

Scientists have developed a small flying robot that mimics the flight of fruit flies.  They’ve figured out how they can make such sharp turns.  Coupled to the fairly simple “swarm intelligence” such as displayed by termites and flocks of birds, such programmable autonomous robots in swarms would be a formidable weapon.

In a similar vein, scientists have developed a robot that is 1000 times lighter than its predecessor.  Weighing an equivalent of 6 grains of rice, this one can swim underwater, take off from water, and fly.

Some organic farms are producing ten times the produce while sequestering carbon as do typical farms with tractors.  A farm in France primarily gets carbon into the soil while also making use of ponds, trees, and animals as all integral to the overall health and productivity of the land involved.

The small start-up company Fisker is working on an autonomous shuttle.  It won’t have a driver, will likely run on fixed routes (such as at campuses), be hailed via an app, and might be powered by solid-state batteries.  If more riders want in, the vehicles will link up, like a small train.  Some speculate this is too new to work yet.

While older refrigerants are worse, the newer proposed HFCs (Hydroflorocarbons) are also bad for driving holes in our ozone layer. Governor Cuomo of New York is joining California in contravening Trump’s mandate on smaller units of government to not regulate HFCs.  Such large markets as New York and California will likely lead manufacturers to build for the far less detrimental options.

Our own Senator Merkley is attracting national attention for his promoting SB 3424, the RISE (Retirement Investments for a Sustainable Economy) feature of the current Thrift Savings Plan.  The new bill would allow federal workers to tailor their investments to avoid fossil fuel companies, thus not helping fund them and avoiding the likely fall in value as fossil fuels are likely phased out.

Saudi Arabia is investing $1B in the California-based electric car company, Lucid.

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KSKQ 9-25-18

Good Earthkeeping Tools and Trends

California governor Jerry Brown lit into President Trump, claiming he is destroying the American auto industry and relinquishing new growth and profits to China.

Similarly, Governor Brown said he’d “launch my own damn satellite” in response to Trump’s seeking to defund NASA’s satellite to study methane and carbon dioxide emissions.  Planet Labs, the California company built of former NASA scientists will likely be in charge of the project.  Instead of blocking the resultant data, California would publish it to the scientific world.

There are nearly a billion EVs in America, and California has almost half of them.  CARB Chair Mary Nichols just congratulated Tesla for their new Model 3.  Meanwhile, Bob Lutz, former chair of GM, has announced Tesla is about to fail, just as he has done every year since 2013.

Colorado is implementing a GoEV campaign, seeking cities to sign on.  The city would commit to stimulating EV adoption in its own fleets, busses, and school busses, urge LYFT and Uber to use EVs and even dedicate fast lanes and parking spaces to EVs.  It will also offer city-funded rebates for EVs.  They might adopt a “feebate” system, where fees for owning gas-guzzlers would go to EV owners.

17 cities in Germany are banning older diesels from their city-centers.  Also from Europe, BMW doesn’t sell a lot of diesels here in the U. S., but it has announced it will stop all such sales and instead ship us plug-in hybrid electrics.

Ambev Brewery in Brazil has ordered 1600 electric delivery trucks from VW.  In that VW is still developing such electric trucks and vans and the Ambev is a subsidiary of the huge Anheuser/Busch beer corporation, this could be an early adopter case of a larger plan for both VW and the delivery truck market.

Worldwide, VW now intends to build 16 new factories dedicated to creating EVs.  Of these, only one, near Chattanooga, is being considered for the U.S.  Investing some $40B, VW claims it will create 10 million EVs in the coming years.

Arish Hande, who won the Zayed Future Energy Prize for his non-profit integration of sustainable technology and development, is like a modern Gandhi for pointing out the unrealized value of widespread independent energy gathering for the poor of the world.  “…the beauty of sustainable energy is it democratizes. It democratizes health; it democratizes education; it democratizes power. Like, I have the light when I need it; I have the sewing machine when I need it. I need the help at my doorstep. I can provide a solar power dental chair, foldable, rather the poor traveling to the hospital. I can go with a solar power projector to a remote school rather than the kids coming far; I can break the whole technology. I mean, sustainable energy in general. I think that’s where the beauty of sustainable energy is — it democratizes.”

Byron has been using his writing and public speaking to engage, challenge and inspire audiences for over 40 years. Reverend Carrier's mission is to rescue and revive our earthly Eden, including our human worth and potential. If you enjoy his work, consider supporting him with Patreon.

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5 years ago

I look forward to The Liberal Hour, as long as it’s progressive rather than anti-conservative. It’s too easy (for me) to descend into us-versus-them polarized fault-finding and the team-bonding it promotes, when what we really need is enthusiastic stimulation of collaborative solutions. Thanks for being out there, Byron.

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