Human Composting to be Legal in California


The only way I’d choose to come back from death

In a few years, people in California will have a new choice for what to do with their loved ones’ bodies after death: put them in their garden.

…Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that makes human composting legal in the state beginning in 2027. The bill, AB-351, makes California the fifth state to allow human composting since it was first legalized in Washington in 2019 (Oregon, Colorado, and Vermont are the other places where you can make yourself into mulch).

“AB 351 will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally-friendly and gives them another choice for burial,” Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, who sponsored the bill, said in a release. “With climate change and sea-level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposition that won’t contribute emissions into our atmosphere.”

Human beings cause more than enough trouble while we’re alive, but the practices we’ve developed to handle our bodies after death are also pretty bad for the environment. Burying a dead body takes about three gallons of embalming liquid per corpse—stuff like formaldehyde, methanol, and ethanol—and about 5.3 million gallons total gets buried with bodies each year. Meanwhile, cremation creates more than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of carbon dioxide from the burning process of just one body, and the burning itself uses up the energy equivalent of two tanks of gasoline. In the U.S., cremation creates roughly 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.

C’mon, folks. Get onboard with a future appropriate to common sense disposition of what remains after you shuffle off this mortal coil. If you’ve dedicated a chunk of your life to doing good…consider keeping it up after you’re dead and gone.

Prices keep falling…US installs record solar capacity

This week, the US Department of Energy’s Berkeley Lab released its annual analysis of solar energy in the US. It found that nearly half the generating capacity was installed in the US during 2021 and is poised to dominate future installs. That’s in part because costs have dropped by more than 75 percent since 2010; it’s now often cheaper to build and operate a solar plant than it is to simply buy fuel for an existing natural gas plant…

Five states now receive more than 15 percent of their electricity from solar power, including Massachusetts and Vermont, with California receiving 25 percent of its electricity from the Sun.

Solar’s expansion has largely been driven by falling costs. The DOE estimates that the price of building a solar plant has been dropping by an average of about 10 percent a year, leading to a fall of over 75 percent since 2010. That has left prices averaging about $1.35 for each watt of capacity in 2021. Large-scale plants benefit the most, with projects over 50 megawatts costing about 20 percent less than those under 20 MW.

Say “Amen”…

 ‘We thought we’d die of hunger. Now we fear death from water’

Farmer Ali Baksh stands on an embankment and points across the flooded landscape of Sindh province towards the spot where his fields used to be. He is sheltering in a makeshift camp accessible only by boat with more than 2,000 others forced to flee their homes when the floods hit.

“There was no rain a few months back and there was a severe shortage of water for crops. We prayed for rain. But when it rained, we became homeless and our crops were destroyed. We have nothing left … just oceans on roads, on farms and submerging our homes.”

Pakistan has been battered by drastic weather extremes since the start of the year. Deadly heatwaves sent temperatures above 50C (122F) in the spring, followed by huge wildfires and crippling droughts.

But the floods that have left a third of the country’s provinces underwater in recent weeks have brought with them a new level of human misery – and a glimpse into the apocalyptic impact of the climate emergency in one of the countries least responsible for it.

Folks have to understand we’re all linked together by a singule global environment. You can’t ignore what the greedy idiot down the road is doing…when the result will threaten your own life.

The “rice capital of California” is now a wasteland


San Francisco Chronicle

Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest.

Not this year, said Kurt Richter, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, the rice capital of California where the local economy relies heavily on agriculture. “It is now just a wasteland,” he said.

As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state…

The dramatic reduction in rice acreage will translate to lost revenue of an estimated $500 million, about 40% of which will be covered by federal crop insurance, according to UC Davis agricultural economist Aaron Smith.

Insurance only covers set amounts. Surviving the death of your livelihood, what may be the last breath of spirit from generations of working families, can drive folks away from everything that has been root and branch of their whole lives.

Feds finally ready to tidy up the space junkyard

The Federal Communications Commission has a plan to minimize space junk by requiring low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to be disposed no more than five years after being taken out of service.

A proposal released yesterday by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel would adopt “a first-ever rule requiring non-geostationary satellite operators to deorbit their satellites after the end of their operations to minimize the risk of collisions that would create debris.” It’s scheduled for an FCC vote on September 29. The five-year rule would be legally binding, unlike the current 25-year standard that’s based on a NASA recommendation proposed in the 1990s…

The new rule “would require space station operators planning disposal through uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere to complete disposal as soon as practicable, and no more than five years following the end of mission,” an FCC fact sheet on the draft order said…

Someone’s bound to figure a way to make a buck out of this. Too public to not be tempting.

Dry lightning hits on the increase in California


Here’s the record of 66,000 hits one day in June

Lightning strikes are rare in Northern and Central California — so infrequent as to be overlooked by science.

But the subject has been of urgent interest since August 2020, when a massive complex of thunderstorms thrashed its way across the state, dropping not rain but thousands of bolts of “dry lightning”: cloud-to-ground strikes without accompanying rainfall exceeding one-tenth of an inch (2.5 millimeters). The effects were predictable, immediate and immense: wildfires, 650 in total, burning upward of 2 million acres…

“Our team knew dry lightning happens in California during the summer,” said the paper’s author, Dmitri Kalashnikov of Washington State University at Vancouver. “But we didn’t know that it would be almost half (46 percent) of all lightning strikes in 34 years that were dry…”

“The higher elevations, like the Sierra Nevada, they get most of their dry lightning strikes in July and August, sort of during the monsoon season, and then by September and October, their dry lightning mostly goes away,” Kalashnikov said. “Whereas, in contrast in the lower elevations … it’s kind of an ongoing dry lightning season. So, whether you’re in June or July or August or September, you get about the same amount of dry lightning strikes as the other months…”

And this is just the beginning of Professor Kalashnikov’s study. I imagine something similar results in similar environments around the country, around the world. Just raises my curiosity bump even more.

Porsche signs 25-year solar deal

Porsche said Monday that it plans to build and operate a solar power microgrid at its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, reducing its annual carbon emissions by 3.2 million pounds. The news came days after Ford announced what it called the largest-ever renewable energy purchase from a utility in the U.S., to power its electricity supply in Michigan with renewable energy.

The installation of Porsche’s microgrid, an on-site electrical network that harnesses power from solar panels, will begin in September and conclude in 2023. The renewable energy project is part of a $50 million development at the Porsche Experience Center campus in Atlanta.

Porsche’s 25-year operating agreement with Cherry Street Energy, the largest non-utility provider of solar energy in Georgia, will power Porsche’s on-site fleet of Taycan EVs, among other applications. The energy company will own, operate and maintain the microgrid, selling the power to Porsche.

Moving forward!