Wind Power is Now Cheaper than Gas

wind turbine

Renewable energy just kept getting cheaper and cheaper despite ongoing subsides for the oil and gas industries. This is really good to see as people who only care about short term economic energy decisions will have to start to advocate for renewable energy. The decrease in cost for renewable wind power can be attributed to bigger blades and better energy grid management. This means that not only is wind power cheaper, the better grid management can lead to other renewable sources getting cheaper too.

In the US, the prices for wind power had risen up until 2009, when power purchase agreements for wind-generated electricity peaked at about $70 per MegaWatt-hour. Since then, there’s been a very steady decline, and 2018 saw the national average fall below $20/MW-hr for the first time. Again, there’s regional variation with the Great Plains seeing the lowest prices, in some cases reaching the mid-teens.

That puts wind in an incredibly competitive position. The report uses an estimate of future natural gas prices that show an extremely gradual rise of about $10/MW-hr out to 2050. But natural gas—on its own, without considering the cost of a plant to burn it for electricity—is already over $20/MW-hr. That means wind sited in the center of the US is already cheaper than fueling a natural gas plant, and wind sited elsewhere is roughly equal.

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Talking Truth About Climate Change Matters

Canadians will be voting this fall in a federal election and one party is running with the mantra that reality isn’t real. Specifically that our current climate crisis doesn’t exist and that climate change as a concept is false. How anyone can vote for such an unethical party is beyond me. Regardless of my confusions, Elections Canada has decided that talking about climate change is now considered partisan.

The good news here isn’t in Canada, it’s in the rest of the world. Recent studies have shown that giving reality deniers airtime on the news changes the discourses around climate change for the worse. The research has led to changes in how media companies approach who they have on their shows when talking about the environment. It’s time that we all hold people accountable for denying the reality of our climate crisis.

“It’s time to stop giving these people visibility, which can be easily spun into false authority,” University of California Merced Professor Alex Petersen said in a statement. Peterson was one of three scientists who traced the digital footprints of climate deniers and scientists across 100,000 media articles for a study in Nature Communications. They discovered about half of mainstream outlets actively seek out climate change denying experts for coverage.

In the new research, Petersen and colleagues looked at 386 prominent climate deniers and 386 climate scientists. They looked at 200,000 scientific journals and 100,000 media articles—from both traditional and new formats. Their findings showed climate change deniers were 49 percent more visible to audiences than climate change scientists. Where media sources adhere to traditional editorial standards, the visibility of the two groups was on par. The only area where scientists had prominence was within scientific publications. New media, they say, “facilitates the production and mass distribution of assertive content” by climate change deniers, “which intentionally or not, crowds out the authoritative message of real” climate scientists.

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Plus, if you’re interested in what you can do about the discourse around climate change:

Boost Local Shopping Streets by Going Car Free

Berlin wants to support its local businesses by banning cars, and historically this has worked well for other cities. Cities the world over are converting streets built for cars into places that people can enjoy to help their local economies. Berlin joins in on this people-friendly trend and the results already look friendly. The city wants to go a step further and use some of the land cars suck up for relaxing areas for people – why park a car where you can just have a park?

This summer, the German capital has announced plans to pedestrianize some vital central streets starting in October. One experiment will ban cars from the main section of Friedrichstrasse, a long, store-filled thoroughfare that, before World War II, was considered the city’s main shopping street. Another will test daily closures on Tauentzienstrasse, another key retail street, with a view toward going permanently car-free in 2020.


At Tauentzienstrasse, the street is wide enough for a more radical makeover. If it’s fully closed for good, it could accommodate cafés and what Germans call “lying meadows”—lawns intended for lounging and sunbathing—in its median. Such changes probably make as much sense commercially as they do environmentally. While some stores may worry that restricted vehicle access could deter shoppers, in the age of online shopping, it pays to make the location of your store pleasant enough to lure people who simply want to hang out.

Tired of Being Sane? Try Hypersanity

happiness

Being considered normal is a lot of work and can lead to a lot of stress, yet it’s something that we all strive for. For a myriad of reasons we dress in certain ways, get certain jobs, and participate in certain activities. All of this to “fit in” and demonstrate sanity. But what if it’s insane to participate in sanity? The concept of hypersanity is all about going beyond societal concepts of normality.

Many ‘normal’ people suffer from not being hypersane: they have a restricted worldview, confused priorities, and are wracked by stress, anxiety and self-deception. As a result, they sometimes do dangerous things, and become fanatics or fascists or otherwise destructive (or not constructive) people. In contrast, hypersane people are calm, contained and constructive. It is not just that the ‘sane’ are irrational but that they lack scope and range, as though they’ve grown into the prisoners of their arbitrary lives, locked up in their own dark and narrow subjectivity. Unable to take leave of their selves, they hardly look around them, barely see beauty and possibility, rarely contemplate the bigger picture – and all, ultimately, for fear of losing their selves, of breaking down, of going mad, using one form of extreme subjectivity to defend against another, as life – mysterious, magical life – slips through their fingers.

We could all go mad, in a way we already are, minus the promise. But what if there were another route to hypersanity, one that, compared with madness, was less fearsome, less dangerous, and less damaging? What if, as well as a backdoor way, there were also a royal road strewn with sweet-scented petals? After all, Diogenes did not exactly go mad. Neither did other hypersane people such as Socrates and Confucius, although the Buddha did suffer, in the beginning, with what might today be classed as depression.

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Soapless Showering is Fine

wc sink

Here’s some good news for lazy people (really for everyone): you don’t need to shower everyday and you don’t even need to use soap. After years of propaganda from the “skin care” industry people are starting to stop following the instruction of lather, wash, repeat. The benefits of not showering include using less water and letting your skin take care of itself. Not using soap can save water and it also consumes fewer resources since you’re not using detergents. Obviously, if you get really dirty then you’re going to want to use soap on those areas.

There’s nothing wrong with just rinsing,” says Sandy Skotnicki, a Toronto-based dermatologist and the author of the 2018 book Beyond Soap. “I’ve talked to people who haven’t used any kind of detergent in years and they’re perfectly fine.” She says that, since 1950, we have gone from bathing once a week to every day. “Has that changed our skin microbiome? I think the answer is yes. And has that caused a rise in inflammatory skin diseases? I think the answer is yes, but we don’t know.”

For Whitlock, a former chemical engineer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, not washing has been a serious science experiment, the success of which has led him to become a trailblazer in a skincare revolution in soap-free, microbiome-friendly and probiotic products. His inspiration came from researching why horses roll in dirt. His conclusion? To top up their ammonia-metabilising bacteria, making the skin less susceptible to infection.

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