Friday, March 30, 2012

Obama Admin Joins Five States to Speed Up Great Lakes Offshore Wind Farms

It's easy to look at our the massive pile of rinky dink Tea Party reps taking up space in the halls of government in places like Michigan and think nothing positive is getting done. And in many cases, that's true.

The Obama administration and five states, including Michigan, have reached an agreement to speed up approval of offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, which have been delayed by cost concerns and public opposition.

With offshore wind power in the Great Lakes this is an issue that has NOTHING to do with Today, and has EVERYTHING to do with Tomorrow. It's the responsible thing to do to get that ball rolling NOW.

Many groups, including our group (the West Michigan Jobs Group), have lobbied Michigan leaders to get back to work on the offshore wind power permitting framework....even though the best case scenario is a bunch of reps who would prefer to ignore the issue, while in the worse case scenario some reps are making moves to ban offshore wind in the Great Lakes outright.

Ain't a chummy environment for renewable energy...or.....anything, Michigan these days. Not until next election, baby. Am I right? Eh? Yeah, I'm right. We're so gonna flick those sticky green bums off our fingers.

But until day our leaders work with what they've got. Say what you want about Snyder, but he knows the score with our energy needs. It's not a matter of opinion...if we stick to the status quo with our energy, we're sunk for so many reasons.

The status quo isn't an option.

So the Federal government is teaming up with Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York to speed up the regulatory process for offshore wind power in the region. That's what you call an End Run around teh stoopid. Michigan will still need to craft its own regulations...but we don't have to sit around twiddling our massive Michigan thumbs until we can get that done.

Administration officials said the region's offshore winds could generate more than 700 gigawatts — one-fifth of all potential wind energy nationwide. Each gigawatt of offshore wind could power 300,000 homes while reducing demand for electricity from coal, which emits greenhouse gases and other pollutants, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

and from an email I got

The MOU does not create any new laws¸ call for new regulations or change existing authorities. Rather, it empowers the state and federal agency signatories to coordinate and share information concerning how offshore wind proposals are reviewed and evaluated with the goal of improving coordination among all of the relevant agencies and ultimately the efficiency of such reviews.

The cooperation produced by the MOU is aimed at improving efficiencies in the review of proposed offshore wind projects by enabling simultaneous and complementary reviews, and avoiding duplicative reviews. The MOU will send a market signal to prospective developers and investors that the Great Lakes region is ready to consider offshore wind proposals and that the regulatory process will be timely and efficient.

This is an issue we need to look at through the lens of decades. As the global population climbs and third world nations much larger than the US successfully achieve a higher standard of living.

As I said earlier...this is not an issue that has anything to do with Today. this is an issue that has everything to do with Tomorrow. Even if an offshore wind farm were proposed today, it would be a decade before it's up and running.

I'm 37. I'll be nearly 60 by the time these wind farms are up. This isn't for us, or me. This is a life raft we're leaving to our kids. If they choose not to use them...or if they feel they don't need them, that will be their choice. But we can at least float that choice over to them when it's time for them to take the reins.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A World with 23 Years Worth of Coal Left.


Okay. So the World Coal Association website freaks me out a bit.

It has been estimated that there are over 847 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves worldwide. This means that there is enough coal to last us around 118 years at current rates of production. In contrast, proven oil and gas reserves are equivalent to around 46 and 59 years at current production levels.

According to the World Coal Association we have 118 years of current production. This is the World Coal Association. If we don't increase production AT ALL, we have 118 years left.

But there are these countries called India and China, right? And they have 8 times the population of the United States. And their economies are growing like crazy. And the folks living in grass huts want electricity and the same standard of living as we have here in the US.

We'd need to increase coal supply by at least 400% just to meet that demand.

118 years cut into quarters is 30 years.

Plus the global population is going to rise to 9 billion by 2050....just 38 years from now. That's another growth rate of 28%.

SO rather than just a 400% increase in power demand we'll be seeing a 512% increase in coal demand.....

.....................blarg. That 118 years gets chopped down right quick to 23 years IF we increase production to meet demand.

The other option is to maintain production in the face of growing demand and watch the price skyrocket.

Fiction: Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

This is some fiction based on the theme Abandon Hope, from the WriteOnEdge writing prompt.


"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here..." Dan's girlfriend whispered in his ear and squeezed his hand as they sat down at the Sushi restaurant.

Dan felt a miniature burst of adrenaline similar in quality to the burst one feels when a lover enters a room. He waited a moment to build the tension before opening his menu, even after his two friends and his girlfriend had.

He smiled secretly to himself then opened the sushi menu. The adrenaline momentarily sharpened his sense of smell and he could smell the roasted sesame oil from the table next to him. That made Dan smile even more secretly. And secretly even more.

Angie, his girlfriend, used her hand to still his bouncing knee.

"You're about to explode, aren't you."

"..........maybe. I'm not NOT about to explode." He gazed at the menu, his eyes darting from one item to the next. (Uni) Urchin. Tobiko (the eggs of flying fish). Partial to sashimi without the rice, but only just barely, he felt a paralysis of indecision. Saeweed salad, he had to have that. And spicy noodle soup with...but the tempura! His eyes moved from one item to the next.

He'd order it all if his funds were unlimited. But he had to choose. Every time, his mind froze up as if this was the last time he'd get to eat ever and it had to be a transcendent experience so he'd remember it and just the memory would nourish him for the rest of his life.

"You're not going to like what you get."

"I know it...." Dan felt the adrenaline and smiled secretly again.

Their friend James asked from across the table "What? You don't like sushi? We can go grab a burger...that's fine with me."

"No. No. He's in heaven right now." Angie waved her hand to dismiss the suggestion, "He loves sushi."

"I do." Dan said from behind the menu.

"I think it's just that we have to drive an hour to get to a sushi restaurant. So we only go once a year or so. He's got some weird fascination with Asian foods. Asian candies....he gets the most awful candies. Licorice lime. Bleh. It tastes like battery acid in salt."

Defensively and from behind his menu "Nuh uh. Okay. Maybe. But you say that like its a bad thing."

The waitress took everybody's order. Dan verbally oscillated between the soup and the Tako (Octopus) nagiri and the unagi rolls. "I'll have...the....unagi....I mean I just want the tako" Finally he got to the point of feeling stupid so resolved to stick with the last thing he said: "the spicy noodle soup". It was right there in the range of their budget and it looked good. Crab and shrimp and mussels. Hr ordered and stuck with it, feeling a sense of loss the rest of the meal.

His girlfriend turned and kissed him on his cheek, knowing he horribly missed the tempura. And the squid. And the urchin.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fiction: Helium Balloon

The boy isn't quite at the age of articulating his thoughts. But it's so easy for him to fall in love with a helium balloon. How strange and upside down and wonderful to feel weight and pull from above his chubby and dimpled hands. The boy holds the string and feels a gravity like force pull up as he lifts up to give the string slack and then pulls down fast, creating a THUMP sound from the rubber balloon knot. It's a lazy little balloon. Not very full. But full enough to float.

Thump, thump, thump. The boy walks aimlessly repeating the gesture, looking up at the orange ball above him on a string, squinting from the sunlight streaming through a canopy of broad green oak leaves. A cicada whirs from somewhere up there on the high summer day.

Thump thump thump. He tugs and tugs. He jumps and feels the pull of the balloon on his hand. He pulls the balloon hard and it bobs on down to his eye level but only for a moment and then rises again, making a nodding motion as it goes. The very little boy is dizzy now, looking up and walking in tight circles on uneven, scrubby grass. He trips on a breaching oak root and lets go of the balloon. He feels the string slip up his arm.

The boy stands up and sees the string just above his head and he feels for a moment that he can just reach up and grab the string of the lazy little balloon as it rises. He reaches up, but it's risen by then. Still out of reach. But not too far. Still within a tippie toe reach. His fingers graze the slowly rising string. But the little balloon rises and rises, dangling its string tail teasingly as it ascends.

The balloon is at the tree tops, then above, then a dot in the sky.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oil Companies Sniffing For Oil Along Coastal Lake Michigan

Before talking about the new wave of oil prospectors sniffing around Muskegon, Mason, and Oceana county...I'd like to talk a little bit about watersheds or drainage basins.

Take a good look at this map of the Great Lakes watershed:

I'd like to call your attention to that state right smack dab in the middle of it. The state that is ENTIRELY within the Great Lakes watershed. Entirely. I call it home. Others call it Michigan. what does that mean? A watershed is wider area from which drainage converges to meet in another shared area. Imagine it like a funnel. Dump water anywhere in that funnel, it's all going to converge in the center. The funnel is the watershed for the center of the funnel. Or, for example, if you dump oil into the funnel, all that oil is also going to wind up in the center of that funnel.

So....more specific to Lake Michigan, the entirety of West Michigan is the drainage basin, or watershed, for Lake Michigan.

Here's a game: Dump water on the ground in West Michigan, it's going to either evaporate or end up in Lake Michigan.

Now let's try something else. Let's say you dump Vernor's ginger ail on the ground. Dump a Vernor's on the ground, it's going to either evaporate or it's going to wind up in Lake Michigan.

Get how this works?

Now let's try crude oil. Dump crude oil on the ground, whatever doesn't evaporate (yes, it does evaporate), is going to end up............

......altogether now.....IN LAKE MICHIGAN.

So...back to those oil prospectors.

Oil companies are sniffing around West Michigan for oil.

In recent months, landowners throughout Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo and Mason counties have been approached by companies from as far away as Texas looking to lease mineral rights.


Imagine this scenario: An energy company thinks there might be untapped resources below your land and wants to pay $35 to $150 per acre for your permission to explore for oil and gas.

Do you even know where to start asking questions? If not, you’re not alone.
Because more landowners throughout West Michigan are being approached by companies with offers to lease the mineral rights to their property, state regulators and university leaders are holding an information meeting to help ensure more property owners enter those negotiations armed with a better understanding.

It wasn't too long ago that environmentalists and a congressman named Bart Stupak championed a Great Lakes Drilling Ban in 2003, which helped to end over 25 years of drilling for oil under Lake Michigan. Article

We don't have the likes of Bart Stupak around anymore. He's been replaced with some tow-the-line Conservative dude who definitely won't lift a finger to protect our waters if it's oil companies looking to muck around here.

See, Michigan once had plans of really capitalizing on its natural gas and oil currently under the Great Lakes. And for a while, they did. They used used something known as slant drilling....setting the rig on land and then drilling down, slantwise, under the lake. And they could claim it wasn't TECHNICALLY offshore drilling.

But I'm not exactly sure what the difference is........if you're perched atop the drainage basin, anyway. There's very little difference in the case of spillage. It's going to get into Lake Michigan. Drilling near the shoreline...drilling within the little removed from to drilling within the water itself.

I'm not sure what's brought on this sudden interest in lakeshore communities as a great place to prospect for oil...but I have my suspicions it's an attempt to try to get back the days of slant drilling for oil and gas under Lake Michigan

Friday, March 16, 2012

I Need Your Endorsement to get a Netroots Nation Scholarship....

Heya folks...I need a couple seconds for your endorsement.

I"m looking to attend this year's Netroots Nation and I'm trying to get a scholarship because I feel it will help me in my work to further promote renewable energy in Michigan.

It sure helps me with my shot if I get endorsements.

Please give me an endorsement. Go to my Application and click Add Your Support.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Speaking and Learning at the Holland Renewable Energy and Jobs Presentation

I was part of a renewable energy panel discussion tonight in Holland, MI. We talked about jobs and wind power. I'm the surly looking one on the far right. I talked about the importance of standing up and making noise in favor of renewable energy.

The other speakers provided some incredible information about the state of wind power manufacturing in America and the jobs created there. A person from the Holland wind turbine blade manufacturer Energetx spoke as well. He made some incredible points about striving to make their product better and cheaper. Reducing the cost of the turbines is one of the central obsessions of wind turbine parts manufacturers.

That really struck a chord with me.

In the great wind power debate I hear an awful lot of folks screaming about government subsidies and mandates and how the free market could do this so much better.....

...but what they don't seem to realize is that the free market is very much at play here. Companies like Energetx don't exist in a vacuum. They exist in a world of hard core competition. They're not just competing with other parts manufacturers...they're competing with coal.

Folks worried that the precious and almighty free market isn't able to work its magic on renewable energies need to have a conversation with a parts manufacturer and ask them if they're forced to be highly competitive, making parts better and cheaper than they can be had from China or anywhere else in the US or Europe.

The market is very much in play. And it's making these parts better and cheaper by the day, which means our wind power is getting better and cheaper by the day.

Another interesting insight brought by a fellow with the last name of VanderVeen was this: as a general rule, a wind farm almost always has some level of activity during the day. And since wind is a product of the sun heating the earth, your greatest activity for wind power comes around noon to three o'clock when the sun is reaching its peak.....which luckily happens to coincide with peak demand times.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sharp Decline in Great Lakes Ice Cover over the past Four Decades

I used to call them icebergs. Back when I was a kid. Icebergs on Lake Michigan. Going out as far as you could see. And along the lakeshore, tall tall "ice dunes". "Ice Dunes". It's a word I learned recently. I never knew them as ice dunes. But as ice is pushed ashore by waves, and as the waves themselves crash on the shore and freeze, massive structures form along the lakeshore, known as ice dunes.

I meant to go out and take pictures of the ice dunes and have on occasion traveled down to Lake Michigan with my camera this winter, but the ice dunes were small to non-existent.

In fact, ice cover along the Great Lakes this year was down to about 5% this year. The lowest amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes ever recorded. Ice cover on the Great Lakes has been steadily declining since we started taking records in 1973 when ice covered 93% of the Great Lakes.

Spectral analysis shows that lake ice has both quasi-decadal and interannual periodicities of ~8 and ~4 yr. There was a significant downward trend in ice coverage from 1973 to the present for all of the lakes, with Lake Ontario having the largest, and Lakes Erie and St. Clair having the smallest. The translated total loss in lake ice over the entire 38-yr record varies from 37% in Lake St. Clair (least) to 88% in Lake Ontario (most). The total loss for overall Great Lakes ice coverage is 71%, while Lake Superior places second with a 79% loss.

Yeah, ice cover is cyclical. But the cycles seem to be 4 to 8 years. And it's been dropping steadily.

Winter ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped dramatically over the past four decades, according to a new report. Peak ice has dropped by 71 percent on average, with Lake Michigan ice decreasing by even more.

Okay. So we're seeing a sharp decline in ice cover over the Great Lakes.

So what?

Wang says losing winter ice can cause a number of problems for the Great Lakes ecosystem. It can speed up wintertime evaporation from the lakes, which could reduce water levels. The trend could also fuel more and earlier algae blooms, which damage water quality and habitat. And it leaves shoreline more exposed to waves, accelerating erosion.

We're looking at drops in water levels due to greater evaporation....disruption of coastal ecosystems....disruptions in shipping.......and earlier algae blooms. Now, when I swim in Lake Michigan there are often these odd balls of algae floating around me, about the size of a pea and hundreds of them. That's a relatively new development.

The world is changing fast.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Dad on Limbaugh "You sleazy pedophile"

My father has always did have a way with words.

To Rush Limbaugh: I know this this wonderful young lady (about 12 years old) who was having painful monthly periods. She was prescribed birth control pills because it was known to the doctor that there was something in them that made monthly periods less painful. She is not a slut and she is not a prostitute. However, I am certain that you would enjoy watching her have sex, you sleazy pedophile.

This, of course, in response to Limbaugh's suggestion that women who are using birth control which is paid for by insurance are, by that fact, whores because they're being paid to have sex. Get it? And if they're whores and if Limbaugh is paying for it as part of the same insurance pool, Limbaugh says he be able to watch them have sex.

Creepy fucker.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

(Video) Ha! Obama Hilariously Destroys the GOP

A pal just sent me this vid and I think it pretty accurately and hilariously illustrates what we've been seeing this year and what we can expect to happen for the next 8 months. Obama has figured out the Republicans are gonna to demand the opposite of everything he wants......they can't help themselves. And Obama is finally using that. They're going to take the bait Every Single Time:

Exhibit A) payroll tax holiday.
Exhibit B) Birth control legislation
Exhibit C) I have a feeling he's going to start making hay over congressional resistance to ending oil and gas subsidies...

Enjoy this extremely accurate vid: