Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Another month, another heat record broken...

June, 2015 takes its ignominious* place in history.

*That's the first time I've ever actually used the word "ignominious" in a sentence--and I like it.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Will the Pope's encyclical on the environment be a game changer?

Unfortunately, not likely. 

A whole bunch of people who always say we shouldn't separate church and state suddenly think that the Pope--a trained scientist, by the way--should leave politics and government to the politicians and governments...

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope,” the former Florida governor said. “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

Because taking care of the earth and protecting our dwindling resources has nothing to do with making us better as people, and is only about politics and the economy, I guess. And Jeb would never--NEVER!--mix religion with politics. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Everest movie Trailer


Based on Krakauer's Into Thin Air of course. Opens in September, 2015.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The most active states in America

Using data from the workout-tracking app developer MapMyFitness. The winner is California, with 87 minutes of workouts a week per user. The loser: North Dakota.  The biggest running state: Massachusetts, where the average user logs 37 minutes per week. I help the average on that one a little, though I'm slightly alarmed that MapMyFitness is tracking my workouts like that.

Friday, May 29, 2015


Nike implicated in FIFA bribery scandal. Let's face it, the only way to do business with that organization is to grease palms. I wonder if the American TV networks had to play ball in this way, as well...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Theft, murder, and collecting data on the environment.

All crimes in Wyoming.

From Slate.

Imagine visiting Yellowstone this summer. You wake up before dawn to take a picture of the sunrise over the mists emanating from Yellowstone hot springs. A thunderhead towers above the rising sun, and the picture turns out beautifully. You submit the photo to a contest sponsored by the National Weather Service. Under a statute signed into law by the Wyoming governor this spring, you have just committed a crime and could face up to one year in prison.
Wyoming doesn’t, of course, care about pictures of geysers or photo competitions. But photos are a type of data, and the new law makes it a crime to gather data about the condition of the environment across most of the state if you plan to share that data with the state or federal government. The reason? The state wants to conceal the fact that many of its streams are contaminated by E. coli bacteria, strains of which can cause serious health problems, even death. A small organization called Western Watersheds Project (which I represent pro bono in an unrelated lawsuit) has found the bacteria in a number of streams crossing federal land in concentrations that violate water quality standards under the federal Clean Water Act. Rather than engaging in an honest public debate about the cause or extent of the problem, Wyoming prefers to pretend the problem doesn’t exist. And under the new law, the state threatens anyone who would challenge that belief by producing information to the contrary with a term in jail.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hawaii Goes All-In on Renewable Energy

The Hawaii legislature voted this week that all grids in the state have to deliver 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Cool clickbait, volume 2,793

The 12 strangest sights on Google Earth. From Proving that although 99.99 percent of all clickbait is evil, the other .01 percent can still be mildly entertaining.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The sons of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay describe witnessing the Everest avalanche

From the Telegraph.

Tesla builds a house battery. But does it come in race car red?

Getting off the grid getting easier? Tesla's trying to make it that way, by employing the battery derived from its Model S vehicles.

The battery, plus installation, will cost roughly $3,000. Then there's the tiny matter of solar panels, which are sold separately, of course.

The true benefit won't come from this first generation of batteries, necessarily--storing solar power in a battery is still highly inefficient--but in bringing investment and research into the next generations.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

You want people to use less gas? Tax it.

A gas tax is actually a conservative, small "c," approach to curbing consumption and changing market demands. It makes sense. Tom Keane from the Boston Globe makes the case:

One can bemoan our failure to follow our principles, but the move to bigger cars underscores another principle: We are economic creatures. When prices go up, we buy less of something; when they go down, we buy more. There’s only one way to get folks to use less fuel. Make it more expensive.
That’s not likely to happen on its own. There’s a glut of supply and new technologies, such as fracking, are making it ever easier to recover oil and gas (a geopolitical side benefit of which is that the US may soon become energy independent). 
The obvious answer is to artificially raise the price of gas by imposing taxes...
The one big drawback is that lower income workers could suffer from the tax, since a larger part of their monthly expenses go to fueling their commute. 

How to turn the Zombie Apocalypse into an opportunity if you live in the mountains.

From my Blue Ridge Outdoors article, on this very weighty topic.

Long-distance footpaths like the Appalachian or Mountains to Sea trails serve as the perfect escape routes from the Zombie Apocalypse. Let’s face it, the un-dead don’t want to go into the woods. Despite their many strengths, they’re slow, clumsy walkers who can easily trip over a rock or root and lose a decaying limb. Could you ever imagine a zombie shuffling to the top of Mount Mitchell? Ridiculous. Not worth the burned calories. Other advantages to the woods are that you can hide more easily there, and set booby traps for intruders (see reference to the girl from Hunger Games,above). Long-distance trails allow to you keep moving through the wilderness without being bottled into one place and surrounded by bad guys, and you’ll have the assurance of water sources, primitive campsites, and other bare-bones facilities within reach. Some sociologists (or at least my sociology-major roommate from college) believe that small societal networks of Zombie Apocalypse survivors will link together along the Appalachian Trail, warning each other of attacks, sharing damn fine moonshine, playing bluegrass, and even creating a loose code of conduct and system of laws and justice...