Idaho Power Company is walking away from coal


North Valmy, Nevada plant half-owned by Idaho PowerIdaho Power Company

❝ Idaho Power Co. is making some serious strides toward eliminating coal from its energy sources.

The company has interests in three coal-fired plants. On March 8, Idaho Power announced a finalized agreement to end its participation in a coal-fired plant in Valmy, Nev. — its second-largest source of coal-fired electricity — by 2025. The company’s coal-fired plant in Oregon is already scheduled to cease coal operations in 2020. And Idaho Power is exploring exiting participation in its third and largest coal-fired plant, in Wyoming.

“We’re on a path away from coal,” Idaho Power spokesman Jordan Rodriguez said.

❝ Despite a growing demand for electricity over time, the company has managed to substantially decrease its reliance on coal as an energy source. Ten years ago, coal-fired electricity made up 38.2 percent of the total energy Idaho Power required for its customers. Last year, coal sources made up only 17.5 percent of its energy portfolio.

RTFA and see how they’re doing this. No magic. Just basic science, economics and good sense.

The coming flood(s)


Click to enlarge

❝ Mr. Remus controls an extraordinary machine — the dams built decades ago to tame a river system that drains parts of 10 states and two Canadian provinces. But it was designed for a different era, a time before climate change and the extreme weather it can bring.

❝ “It’s human nature to think we are masters of our environment, the lords of creation,” said Mr. Remus, who works for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. But there are limits, he said. And the storm last week that caused him so much trouble was beyond what his network of dams can control.

“It was not designed to handle this,” he said.

❝ His decisions affect the lives of countless communities and ecosystems — the cities, factories and power plants that draw water from the river; the endangered species that nest on its sandbars; the farmers who cultivate its floodplains.

Often, their interests conflict. “You’re not going to make them happy,” he said, “but you can provide them with an explanation…”

❝ Mr. Remus’s stewardship of the river is guided by a 432-page document, the Master Manual, which lays out the eight congressionally authorized purposes he must balance. They are flood control, river navigation, hydroelectric power, irrigation, water supply, water quality, recreation (such as fishing or boating), and the preservation of endangered species…

One problem with that: The Master Manual does not explicitly tell Mr. Remus which is more important. Thus the eight purposes exist in a near constant state of tension.

❝ “You can’t say that you serve all of them equally,” Mr. Remus said. The word he clings to is “balance.” But when extreme flooding looms, he said, “the balance goes away.”

Then, all that matters is flood control.

A truly interesting read. Unfortunately. For we as a nation face governance by a Congress mostly populated with cowards and an executive branch led by a greedy fool. A criminal idiot!

Please read the article.

Sewage measures global levels of antimicrobial resistance

❝ A comprehensive analysis of sewage collected in 74 cities in 60 countries has yielded the first, comparable global data, which show the levels and types of antimicrobial resistant bacteria that are present in mainly healthy people in these countries. The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, headed the study, which was conducted by an international team of researchers.

❝ In a metagenomics study, the researchers have mapped out all the DNA material in the sewage samples and found that according to antimicrobial resistance the world’s countries fall within two groups. North America, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand generally have the lowest levels of antimicrobial resistance, while Asia, Africa and South America have the highest levels.

Brazil, India and Vietnam have the greatest diversity in resistance genes, while Australia and New Zealand have the lowest…

❝ According to the researchers, the use of antimicrobials only explains a minor part of the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in the various countries…Their work shows that most of the variables, which are associated with the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in a country, are related to the sanitary conditions in the country and the population’s general state of health.

Nothing startling. Still, worth keeping your brain – and behavior – up to date on news about a growing problem.

Whale oil was “indispensable”, too…


Whale oil lampsG.Paul Burnett/NY Times

Is the oil business the new whaling business? And, if so, is that a good sign or a troubling one?

Bear with us. Whaling, after all, was one of the world’s first great multinational businesses, a global enterprise of audacious reach and import. From the 1700s through the mid-1800s, oil extracted from the blubber of whales and boiled in giant pots gave light to America and much of the Western world. The United States whaling fleet peaked in 1846 with 735 ships out of 900 in the world. Whaling was the fifth-largest industry in the United States; in 1853 alone, 8,000 whales were slaughtered for whale oil shipped to light lamps around the world, plus sundry other parts used in hoop skirts, perfume, lubricants and candles.

❝ But, in fact, whaling was already just about done, said Eric Jay Dolin, who wrote some of the text for the exhibit and is the author of “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.” Whales near North America were becoming scarce, and the birth of the American petroleum industry in 1859 in Titusville, Pa., allowed kerosene to supplant whale oil before the electric light replaced both of them and oil found other uses.

❝ Eric Jay Dolin…the author of “Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America.”…(says) the message for today was that one era’s irreplaceable energy source could be the next one’s relic. Like whaling, he said, big oil is ripe to be replaced by something newer, cleaner, more appropriate for its moment.

“What you think you can’t live with today, tomorrow can become just a memory,” he said. “That’s what happened with whale oil, and eventually it’s going to happen to oil, but you don’t just turn off one switch and flip on a new one. It’s the product of a long, wrenching process that I hope leads us to a more sustainable path than the one we’re on now.”

RTFA to view a more complete picture of the parallels. The article was published in 2008, BTW.

Snow tornado in New Mexico


Click to enlargeAntonio Chiquito/Facebook

❝ Antonio Chiquito was having a relatively normal winter day in Tinian, N.M., on Feb. 17. Temperatures were about 30 degrees, with heavy snow showers, and nothing seemed too out of the ordinary. And then he spotted a tornado — made out of snow.

“I had been at church, and then I came home and took the sheep out,” recalled Chiquito, who lives on the eastern end of the Navajo Nation. “When I was heading inside to warm up, I glanced up and saw the funnel cloud.”

❝ Sure enough, Chiquito’s suspicions were correct: It was a tornado. At first, he was a little frightened, but surprisingly not shocked. He had seen twisters in Tinian before but never following a snow squall.

❝ The National Weather Service in Albuquerque…confirming the funnel as a landspout, which is a tornado that forms from the ground up rather than one that descends from spinning clouds above.

Out-of-the-ordinary weather is now becoming “occasional”. Conservative politicians at a minimum have to acknowledge the existence of real events. Unless they’re president, of course.

Future Urban Climates

❝ By the 2080s, the climate of North American urban areas will feel substantially different, and, in many cases, completely unlike contemporary climates found anywhere in the western hemisphere north of the equator. If emissions continue unabated throughout the 21st century,the climate of North American urban areas will become, on average, most like the contemporary climate of locations about 500 miles away and mainly to the south…

❝ Scientists analyzed 540 urban areas that encompassed approximately 250 million inhabitants in the United States and Canada. For each urban area, they mapped the similarity between that city’s future climate expected by the 2080s and contemporary climate in the western hemisphere north of the equator using 12 measures of climate, including minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation during the four seasons.

Check out the examples nearest you. Gives you some idea what awaits not-so-future generations