Happy New Year! What's the theme for the first month of 2013?
Based on the description above and the prompts, the theme refers more to motivation and inspiration than it does to energy as I use the term on this blog. Take today's prompt, for example. "From where do you draw your energy?" When it comes to motivation and inspiration, it's my love of knowledge and teaching that knowledge so that people can improve their lives, along with my intense desire to perform and be appreciated. But that's not how I'm going to treat this theme. Instead, I'll take the part about "how well we'd do with an extended power outage" and run with it.
It's the first month of a new year, and it's time to get energized. This month, we'd like you to think of ways that you're going to gather energy to use throughout the year as well as stave off any energy drains by realizing what is taking away from your productivity. Of course, we'll also be doing a lot of daydreaming about superhuman powers -- for instance, the ability to never sleep... would you take it if it also meant the chance removed to ever dream? -- and how well we'd do with an extended power outage.
So start thinking about how to best utilize your energy and ways you can change the world in 2013.
When I blog about energy this month, I'll write about how many calories of food I metabolize, how many BTUs of natural gas is burned on my behalf to heat my house, heat the water I use, and cook my food, how many gallons of gasoline and diesel move me and all the things I need to where I need them, and how much dirty coal and Uranium-235 it takes to keep the lights on, refrigerate my food and drink, and run all the electronics. On top of that, where does all of this come from, how much does it cost, including all the hidden environmental and human costs, and what happens to all the waste that is produced. Finally, is there a better way and, if so, how can we get there?
Of course, I'm subverting the monthly theme to mean what I want it to mean, and what I do here anyway, except in a more intense form than usual. But that's OK. As the theme description always says:
The theme and writing prompts, as always, are there as a guide if you want some structure to your month, though you can always sign up for NaBloPoMo and chart your own path.Fair enough, although I had enough fun subverting today's prompt that I might just do it again.
NaBloPoMo is what you make of it. At its core, all you need to do is post daily on your blog. The point of NaBloPoMo is not to be restricted by the theme, but instead to either take it or leave it. If you'll do better blogging every day based on what's happening in your world, throw aside the daily prompts.
Crossposted from Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
Continuing with the series I started yesterday, here are the links to the entries I posted the week of Wester.
- Debate creates a buying opportunity for Obama's stock
- The gas price rollercoaster jumped the tracks in South Haven
- Why the well-off turn out to vote and what happens when they do
- The state of the presidential contest on 10/10/12
- Election news from campuses on the campaign trail
- Nate Silver and others on the VP debate
- WXYZ thinks Michigan is being left out, then Ryan and Ann Romney visit
- Democrats are paying attention to Michigan, too, plus follow-up on the VP debate
A tale of two macros
Happy Paczki Day!
More Paczki Day videos from WXYZ
Gas prices going up again
WOOD-TV on rising gas prices
Winter has returned
Lou Dobbs thinks "The Lorax" and "The Secret World of Arrietty" are liberal propaganda
Gingrich pledges $2.50 gas; President Obama hits back
Sustainability-related news from Reuters for 2/23
Yes, I'm on break. Why do you ask?
In the previous digest, I promised "global and national environmental issues, local (Michigan and Metro Detroit) sustainability issues, and Tea Party screw-ups." I'll do the first one, as I just posted an entry on that general topic.
Next Media Animation on the Keystone XL pipeline
Next Media Animation on Thanksgiving food inflation
Phil Plait on saving Earth from asteroids
Nebris and I have a conversation
A video gift from a student
Yes, I posted that one before. It's worth seeing again. Besides, I'm an environmentalist; I recycle.
The village of Wukan, China, in open revolt
The situation in Wukan escalates
More paranoia about Agenda 21
You'll see this one again, as it's about Tea Partiers screwing up.
Next Media Animation thinks low birth rates in the U.S. and China aren't all good
Next Media Animation on Canada leaving the Kyoto Protocol, plus a Rick Perry joke
With that last entry, the topics complete the circle, as the first and last are about Canadian tar sands.
Looks like it does.
Calculated Risk has an interactive version of the above graph in Update on Gasoline Prices, where you can input the nearest major city in the U.S. to you and contract the time range down to one month and up to five years.
The above will be part of a post on Crazy Eddie's Motie News about oil and gas prices. Watch for it.
Yeah, this one. It got picked up by Lex Kuhne's Daily Intelligencer, a paper.li site that compiles tweets, as today's top Michigan story. Looks like he enjoys reading drunken texts about sex, too.
In other news, I've been busy over at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
Labor Day and hurricanes to blame as gas prices rise sharply in Michigan
Preview of Arts, Beats, and Eats
Surf on over.
I figured that you would write about President Obama, along with the rest of the International Energy Agency, releasing oil from their reserves. If I had written a Karnak predicts post, both of those topics would have been in it, but I didn't. However, I did write about that topic and predicted that you'd have something snarky to say about it, and I was right. Unfortunately, I buried the lede and made the title about falling gas prices in Detroit, when the story really was about Obama trying to stimulate the economy to help his re-election while at the same time kicking the oil companies and commodities speculators while the price goes down. So far, it's working.It worked until yesterday, when the price for West Texas Intermediate went up $5/barrel. As a consequence, unleaded regular at the corner gas station from $3.49 to $3.58 as of yesterday. This morning, it rocketed up to $3.85. By this evening, it had dropped back to $3.79. Can you say overshoot? I knew you could.
Last week, I posted two entries about falling gas prices. From the second post.
Not only did the price of gas drop this week, it will drop next week as well. On Monday, the price of North Sea oil (Brent Crude) fell because of worries about Greece (West Texas Intermediate had fallen earlier, but went up slightly). On Tuesday, the same two things happened, this time because of fears about Spain. West Texas Intermediate then fell on after-hours trading. As I keep repeating, a price drop like this is not entirely good news; it's a response to bad economic news elsewhere. This is true even for what happened yesterday.If that price holds, AAA Michigan and the Detroit Free Press will have another price drop to report next week.I'm sure they will, as the price of oil dropped 4% yesterday.
( Oil dives to 4-month low as emergency stocks unleashed )
I'm a fan of environmentally sound manufacturing.
The Oakland Press: GM drives to lessen Orion plant’s environmental impact
By JOSEPH SZCZESNY
Of The Oakland Press
Gas piped from an Oakland County landfill is helping General Motors hold down costs as it begins building small cars at the GM assembly plant in Orion Township, saving the company more than $1.1 million annually.I like everything about this article--local jobs for people building fuel-efficient cars, renewable energy, energy conservation, recycling, and using environmentally friendly paint. All of these are good for the environment, society, and the economy. Consider me a fan!
Energy savings have helped General Motors reduce the cost of building small cars in the United States at the company’s assembly plant in Orion Township.
Eric Stevens, GM vice president of global manufacturing engineering, said when production of the fuel-efficient 2012 Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano at Orion begin this fall, 40 percent of the energy to power the General Motors Orion Assembly Plant where the cars are built will come from a burning landfill adjacent to the plant on Brown Road.
Originally posted to Crazy Eddie's Motie News as Motie News Brief: GM's Orion plant to go green.
On the other hand, I'm not much of a fan of high gas prices. Gas prices back above $4.00/gallon in metro Detroit
Oakland Airport Builds E.V. Chargers and Awaits the E.V.’s
Wheelies: The Pipeline Edition
With Financing in Flux, Saab’s First E.V. Program Awaits Its Fate
Chrysler Exports ‘Imported From Detroit’ to New York
After viewing Chrysler’s two-minute Super Bowl XLV advertisement, during which the rapper Eminem emerged not from the all-new Chrysler 300, but from a 200 sedan, some Monday-morning quarterbacks felt that the brand missed an opportunity to showcase a superior product, one deserving of the spot’s emotional impact.
Well, it is now time for the 300’s “Imported From Detroit” turn. Following a spot in which Ndamukong Suh, the Detriot Lions defensive tackle, drives a 300 home to Portland, Or., to visit his mother, Chrysler’s new flagship, which was reviewed recently in the Automobiles section, faces the most feckless, image-conscious gridiron of them all: Manhattan.
From the Cloud, Google Pulls Down an Energy Saver
Amp Delivers Its First Electric Mercedes-Benz ML Conversion
As Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Motors, learned during filming of “Revenge of the Electric Car,” developing an E.V. from the ground up is a prohibitively expensive exercise. Amp Electric Vehicles, an Ohio company that removes the guts of internal-combustion passenger cars and replaces them with electric powertrains, says it has a more viable way to get E.V.’s on the road, even if those roads are almost an ocean away.
On Wednesday morning at its showroom and production complex in Cincinnati, Amp executives handed over the keys of an electric Mercedes-Benz ML 350 to the company’s newest and biggest client, Gisli Gislason, the chairman and chief executive of Northern Lights Energy, a utility in Iceland. The luxury S.U.V. is the first vehicle to be produced in a five-year contract between the two companies, during which Amp expects to ship 1,000 E.V.’s to the island nation.
Robert Stempel, a Voice for Alternative-Energy Sources, Dies at 77
Robert C. Stempel, the former General Motors chairman and chief executive who died on Saturday at 77, spent a turbulent two years atop the country’s largest automaker, during which he cut jobs and closed plants to minimize company losses. However, for every automaker that deepens its experimentation in alternative-energy sources, Mr. Stempel’s legacy as an auto-industry seer is bolstered.
But while sourcing batteries for the proposed EV1, Mr. Stempel befriended Stanford Ovshinsky, the noted scientist credited with the invention of nickel-metal hydride batteries, thin-film solar panels and a long list of other technologies.
I plan on using all of these for either Crazy Eddie's Motie News or Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday on Daily Kos later today. Right now, I'm just taking advantage of the rich text formatter so that I don't have to actually open the blog posts and create the HTML by hand. I have better articles and posts on which to use my 20 article per month allotment.
A few days ago, I described how oil prices dropped and stocks went up on news of bin Ladin's death. I also said that it wouldn't last, a view shared by Kunstler.
This morning, Bloomberg is putting out a story that the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped - from $113 to 112 - because Bin Laden was tossed into the sea. How long will that state of affairs last, I wonder. Through eleven o'clock in the morning, Eastern time?He called it, at least in the short run, as West Texas Intermediate rebounded to its Friday levels by noon. However, that price drop now looks like a preview of coming attractions.
Reuters: Oil crashes 10 percent in record rout
By Matthew Robinson
NEW YORK | Thu May 5, 2011 5:40pm EDT
Oil collapsed into free-fall on Thursday, diving as much as 10 percent and sending U.S. crude back under $100 a barrel as investors staged a nearly unprecedented stampede for the exits.
This could be interpreted as good news, as it means that gasoline prices are likely to drop soon. However, it isn't entirely good news, as it is a sign that the market became worried that the price was getting high enough to impede expansion.
Weak economic data from Europe and the United States fed concerns that have battered commodities all week. German industrial orders fell unexpectedly in March while U.S. weekly jobless claims hit eight-month highs, sparking a fourth day of profit taking in early trade.
The oil markets have been doing this dance for a year now. Just about every time oil's share of U.S. GDP starts to pass 4%, Hamilton's magic number for contraction, the price drops. The traders are acting as if they know what that 4% share (or the 6.5% of personal income spent on energy) means and they sell off.
But the onslaught of selling went far beyond any single cause.I've also heard and read that the projected end of the second round of quantitative easing has let the air out of commodities, although Krugman disputes that it's just the dollar. He even points out that the recent price rise in Euros has been even higher in percentage terms than it has been in US Dollar terms with the following graph.
Speaking of Europe, Brent crude also followed suit.
Brent crude plunged more than $12 at one point -- exceeding the sell-off that followed Lehman Brothers' collapse.
That's even better news for lowering gas prices, as a lot of the gasoline in the U.S. is refined from oil priced as Brent, not WTI.
So, how long will this trend last?
0"The longer-term bull cycle is still in place, but this correction may have a life span of several months, as weaker economic data is fueling this correction to a large part," said Sterling Smith, senior analyst for Country Hedging Inc in Minnesota.Just long enough to the economy to expand some more, that's how long. If I were Obama, I'd hope oil prices and the U.S. economy keep doing their dance until November of 2012. Maybe they will.
Above originally posted to Crazy Eddie's Motie News, along with videos about the effects of higher gas prices on the Detroit economy, both good and bad, and gas rising above $4.00/gallon for the first time since 2008.
Crazy Eddie's Motie News: Earth Day Events at University of Michigan and Oakland Community College
University of Michigan: Earth Day celebrations planned at U-M
Oakland Community College: Back to Earth (PDF)
Oakland Community College: The Impact of Urban Farming on American Cities (PDF)
Oakland Community College: 1st Annual Sustainability Fair (PDF)
Details for the PDF-phobic and commentary at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
It's the weekend, which means it's time for me to select this week's news from midwestern universities about food and sustainability. Once again, Michigan State University has pride of place as the first Michigan university mentioned with the only two food stories.
Michigan State University: MSU class building a better popcorn kernel
EAST LANSING, Mich. — A group of Michigan State University students is taking a course this semester that has the official title of “Science of the Foods we Love.” But most everybody knows it as the “popcorn course.”As I wrote in one of my early linkspam posts:
That’s because in addition to teaching the students the finer points of scientific research, and how the worlds of science and industry come together, another result of the course might be a better kernel of popcorn.
With the help of a gift from ConAgra Foods, the maker of, among other things, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, the class is studying different aspects of popcorn (e.g., explosivity, hull thickness and kernel size distribution) as they relate to the overall quality of a popped bag of microwave popcorn.
Later this month the class will travel to ConAgra headquarters in Omaha, Neb., to present their findings to the company’s scientists.
The flip side of Purdue's concern with food is that it's very much in the pocket of industrial agriculture, and this article shows that relationship in unapologetic detail. Honestly, I find Michigan State University, where there is a program in organic agriculture that was created by student demand, to have a more progressive perspective, and MSU is also a land-grant agricultural college.They may be more progressive, but they are still strongly connected to industrial agriculture.
Michigan State University: Oxygen sensor invention could benefit fisheries to breweries
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Monitoring oxygen levels in water has applications for oil spills, fish farming, brewing beer and more – and a professor at Michigan State University is poised to help supply that need.Since the most read posts this month so far has been Detroit Food and Sustainability News for 4/4/11 and its popularity has been driven by Google searches for people searching for the news story about Russ Allen of Seafood Systems in Okemos and his proposal to raise shrimp in Detroit (Let's see what that phrase does for this post's Search Engine Optimization--muahahahahaha!), I decided to put this story about aquaculture above the fold as a food story.
The concept of oxygen sensors isn’t new. The challenge, however, has been manufacturing one that can withstand fluctuations in temperature, salinity, carbon dioxide, phosphates and biological wastes. Ruby Ghosh, associate professor of physics, was able to overcome those obstacles as well as build one that provides real-time data and is relatively inexpensive.
Constantly testing dissolved oxygen is critical in industries such as:
- Aquaculture – where fish are raised in oxygen-rich, high-density environments.
- Beverage manufacturing – which constantly monitors dissolved oxygen levels during the fermentation and bottling processes.
- Biomedical research – which could use probes to further cancer research by detecting changes in oxygen dependence in relation to tumor growth.
- Petroleum manufacturing – to monitor ocean oxygen levels and detect/prevent oil leaks in rugged, saltwater environments.
To test her prototypes, Ghosh and her students worked with Michigan’s fish farmers to see how they would hold up in a year-round, outdoor environment.
“My lab focuses on solving real-life problems through our technology,” Ghosh said. “Raising trout for recreational fishing is economically important to Michigan, and our prototype proved that our sensor performs well in the field and could help that industry thrive.”
More news stories about sustainability, science, economy, politics, and law at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
What does $110 per barrel for West Texas Intermediate look like at the retail level here in Metro Detroit? I'll let WXYZ-TV tell the tale.
If anything screws up this current economic recovery, it will be oil. The higher prices are already causing gasoline consumption to decline year over year. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, as I think the country consumes too much gas, but it's what those high prices could also do to the rest of the economy in the meantime, as outlined in the two video reports above. That said, allow me the following moment of bragging.
I am so glad I moved from Whitmore Lake, where I was 40 miles from work, into my walkable neighborhood in SE Oakland County a year ago. Not only can I walk to three restaurants, two drugstores, four convenience stores, a liquor store, a bar, and credit union in less than five minutes (this has come in really handy when I needed to get something five minutes before closing time), I can also walk to a many more businesses, including a grocery store, hardware store, and my haircutters, in 10 minutes, to one side of downtown in 15 minutes, and to one of my worksites in 25 minutes. My wife is amazed at how much I'll walk given a chance. On top of that, I live only seven miles away from my primary worksite. Finally, the nearest major corner has the cheapest gas in the county. No wonder we renewed our lease.
Now, excuse me while I knock on some wood to evade the evil eye. :-)
Above originally posted with a different video at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
Crazy Eddie Motie News: Weekend News Linkspam--Midwest University News
By virtue of having a week's worth of news as green as its school colors, Michigan State managed to have yesterday's linkspam pretty much all to itself. Now, the rest of the Midwestern public research universities get their turns.
University of Michigan: The Population Bomb: How we survived it
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—World population will reach 7 billion this year, prompting new concerns about whether the world will soon face a major population crisis.I think someone is being too optimistic. Then again, it's an economist saying this, not an ecologist.
"In spite of 50 years of the fastest population growth on record, the world did remarkably well in producing enough food and reducing poverty," said University of Michigan economist David Lam, in his presidential address at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America.
Lam is a professor of economics and a research professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research. The talk is titled "How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons from 50 Years of Exceptional Demographic History."
In 1968, when Paul Ehrlich's book, "The Population Bomb," triggered alarm about the impact of a rapidly growing world population, growth rates were about 2 percent and world population doubled in the 39 years between 1960 and 1999.
According to Lam, that is something that never happened before and will never happen again.
University of Michigan: Personal income up, but are we better off?
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Although U.S. personal income per capita has risen 5.7 percent since 2000, an increase in tax-exempt benefits provided by the government and employers accounted for all of the income growth in the past decade, says a University of Michigan economist.See this graph from Calculated Risk for personal income minus transfer payments:
Thanks to these nontaxable transfer payments, which include Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance, unemployment, welfare and disability benefits, inflation-adjusted personal income per capita rose nearly $2,200 since 2000, despite America's worst economic recession since the Great Depression.
But when growth in transfer payments and employer-paid benefits are excluded, U.S. taxable income per capita actually decreased 3.4 percent from $32,403 to $31,303, says economist Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Economics, and the Economy.
"Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary personal income statistics for all states and the data shows that personal income per capita in the United States increased," Grimes said. "But, why don't we feel better off? Because the personal income per capita data includes 'spending' that we don't recognize as contributing to our economic well-being.
"Most people are not going to feel better off if their employer has to pay higher health insurance premiums, even if to government statistics experts it is the appropriate way to measure our well-being, which strictly speaking it is."
No, we're not back to where we were before the recession.
News from Wisconsin, Purdue, and Ohio State at Crazy Eddie Motie News.
April Fools is over, and so is focusing on "business as usual." It's time to return to what this blog is about, which is fighting off or surviving collapse.
Since it's Saturday, it's the day when I survey scientific, environmental, and economic research news from the local universities. This week, Michigan State University receives top billing, as they have a plethora of environmenal news.
MSU kicks off Earth Month with weekly ‘Dim Down’
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University will kick off Earth Month festivities this Friday, April 1, with the annual Dim Down program.That's not much, but it's better than nothing.
Sponsored by the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, the program is designed to encourage faculty, staff and students to engage in collaborative energy conservation.
Faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to participate in voluntary energy conservation each Friday from noon to 1 p.m. throughout the month of April by turning off lights, computer monitors, speakers and other nonessential items.
“The Dim Down program has very successful in the past several years at MSU,” said Ashley Hale, senior communication undergraduate and founder of the Dim Down Program. “In 2009, Dim Down events equated to a 3 percent decrease in overall energy usage on campus.”
Each week an event will be hosted by the Office of Campus Sustainability to encourage participation and facilitate discussion on environmental issues.Oh, cool. What's on the agenda?
*April 1: Turning Trash into Treasure — A crafting activity designed to help participants learn how to reuse household materials and reduce land-filled waste. The event will take place from noon to 1 pm. in the Union lobby. Craft materials will be provided.Darn, missed it--and it looks like it would have been fun, too.
*April 8: Sustainability Research Symposium — Research conducted at MSU with a focus on sustainability will be presented in Wonders Hall Kiva from noon to 2 p.m.Fridays look like good
*April 15: State of the State Energy Discussion — Learn more about statewide energy policy, MSU’s Energy Transition Planning Process and energy efficiency at home from noon to 1 p.m. in Wonders Hall Kiva.
*April 22: Take-a-Tour — Stop by the MSU Surplus Store and Recycling Center from 12-1 and take a tour of the facility which has earned LEED gold certification.
*April 29: Dim Down Walk — Celebrate a month of energy conservation and enjoy the sunshine. The walk starts at noon in front of the Hannah Administration Building.
More at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.
Late Night Motie News Linkspam
Tonight, news about food, energy, and politics, along with two stories I tell my students, one about the future of the human population and the other about shopping for a car. I'm sure you can guess which one is more entertaining.
Also, in case I don't get around to posting another entry today, the word for this entry is news.
From MSNBC: Cities are going dark for Earth Hour
By John Roach
Cities around the world are going dark on Saturday night for the annual Earth Hour event, which aims to raise awareness about actions people can take for the environment's sake.I personally think this is a fun publicity stunt, and I'm going along with it, but by itself, it's just a publicity stunt.
The campaign, now in its fourth year, boasting participation of more than 4,000 cities in 131 countries and territories around the world. Hundreds of millions of people are expected to turn off their lights and other non-essential appliances for an hour beginning at 8:30 p.m. local time.
The symbolic act is expected to darken major landmarks around the world, including the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
This year, though, the organizers of Earth Hour have added another feature, Beyond the Hour. There, the organizers tell readers, "This Earth Hour, go beyond the hour. Take action to make our world a better place and share your act with the world." A search function allows you to see which actions readers have rated as most popular, such as going meat-free, going trash-free, going on a plastic diet, and turning off lights when going out. The MSNBC article includes some more.
•Cut down on the use of plasticsI've already started on the second, as my wife and I planted a garden last year and plan on doing it again this year, and the fourth, as I walk everywhere I can. It helps that I love walking and live in a relatively walkable neighborhood. I'm going to add one more--keep writing this blog. It's the least a Crazy Eddie can do.
•Convert your lawn to a vegetable garden
•Ride a bike, take the bus, or walk instead of driving