Wind & Solar Review

Solar and Wind: How Low Can They Go?

That’s because right now, in much of the United States, wind and solar are the cheapest form of power available, according to a new report from investment bank Lazard. Analysts found that new solar and wind installations are cheaper than a new coal-fired power installation just about everywhere — even without subsidies. The cost of renewables continues to fall rapidly.

Solar And Wind Are Getting Really, Really Cheap.

Since just last year, the cost of utility-scale solar has dropped 10 percent, and the cost of residential solar dropped a whopping 26 percent — and that is coming after years of price declines. The cost of offshore wind declined by 22 percent since last year, though it still remains more expensive than onshore wind.

The Lazard report is just the latest chapter in the success story of renewable energy. Since 2009, the cost of solar has been cut nearly in half. The cost of wind has fallen by two-thirds. The precipitous drop in price is reminiscent of shrinking costs for personal computers. Wind and, particularly solar, have yet to level off. New technologies and cheaper materials will continue to drive down costs in the years ahead.

Research on psychological concepts like “cultural tightness” and “optimism bias” offers insight into the rise of Donald Trump.

The psychological research that helps explain the election

The research that helps explain the election.

At the end of most years, I’m typically asked to write about the best psychology papers of the past twelve months. This year, though, is not your typical year. And so, instead of the usual “best of,” I’ve decided to create a list of classic psychology papers and findings that can explain not just the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. but also the rising polarization and extremism that seem to have permeated the world.

To do this, I solicited the opinion of many leading psychologists, asking them to nominate a paper or two, with a brief explanation for their choice. (Then I nominated some stories myself.) And so, as 2016 draws to a close, here’s a partial collection of the insights that psychology can bring to bear on what the year has brought about, arranged in chronological order.

Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper’s “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization”

In 1979, a team from Stanford University—Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper—published a paper that made sense of a common, and seemingly irrational, phenomenon: that the beliefs we hold already affect how we process and assimilate new information. In other words, we don’t learn rationally, taking in information and then making a studied judgment. Instead, the very way we learn is influenced from the onset by what we know and who we are. In the original study, Lord and his colleagues asked people to read a series of studies that seemed to either support or reject the idea that capital punishment deters crime. The participants, it turned out, rated studies confirming their original beliefs as more methodologically rigorous—and those that went against them as shoddy.

Money. An article from the archive about getting real

by Richard @ Bizmarts – Dec. 2011

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Every day we see another article in the media about the positive signs in the economy; from the decline in the number of new unemployment claims, to a decline in the number of new foreclosures, to the claims that the world economy as a whole can expect another year of strong growth,to the reported rebound in stock prices, or that the U.S. can expect a real GDP growth of 4%.

Pardon my French, but this is bullshit – this macro-economic blather is meaningless drivel from the perspective of individual citizens.

Home prices continue to fall nationwide, small business loans are back to 2004-2005 levels, credit card companies and banks are continuing to raise interest rates and fees. Food, fuel, clothing, health care, and service charges escalate daily. Fees and provisions from utilities and large-scale service providers are up to and beyond rates considered immoral, or illegal in other times.

For the banking industry, 55% of bank securities are still in the form of mortgages, there has been a decline of 25% in the number of FDIC insured banks in America while the total value of assets held by these banks almost doubled. Which means increasing difficulty for small businesses to borrow, and small neighborhood banks and credit unions to survive. Just yesterday, two more Georgia banks failed and were taken over by the FDIC.

Evidence supports the observation that personal income for over 80% of Americans has actually declined over the past decade, even without the mortgage fueled depression of 2007-20xx. The typical small investor and home owner experienced a loss of 31% of their net worth since 2007, and yet the half empty/half full glass chimera is still a viable public stance for politicians, and those who benefited from the housing bubble collapse.

Over 20 million citizens are unemployed, with at least another 10 million underemployed. The average hourly earnings for all nonfarm employees in March 2011 was $22.87 with a norm of 34.3 hours worked per week, which comes to a gross of $784.00 per week. Subtracting payroll and withholding costs, these workers take home about $30k/yr. Comparing this to the “take home” from previous decades in actual buying power, after adjusting for inflation, demonstrates clearly that over 70% in the middle economic distribution are doing worse financially then at almost anytime in our recent history.

So what can you or I do to deal with this issue?

Well, the number one thing you -should- do is to not take this as a minor issue that only affects others. It affects everyone. No-one can afford to be nonchalant about the fallout when the full repercussion of the Worldwide financial meltdown reaches the tipping point, or comes home to roost where one lives. Acting as if “this will all be over soon and we’ll be back to normal” is the height of naivety. It’s way past time to make some changes to deal with the present and future elements of your financial, and social condition.

On the importance of select recycling considerations

New York CRT processor struggles to meet regulatory requirements

via Resource Recycling – posted on   by
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Despite having a CRT glass recycling furnace in place in New York, Nulife Glass has for years had difficulty coming into compliance with state facility rules.

Nulife began processing up to 10 tons per day earlier this year at its Dunkirk, N.Y. facility. With the furnace built, the company has been able to garner material from a wide range of vendors, including those tied to original equipment manufacturers. The firm says it has temporarily turned the furnace off in Dunkirk to perform maintenance and address a handful of repairs.

But Nulife has been battling state and federal regulations since the day the company opened for business in 2013.

A few months ago, Pennsylvania officials accused Nulife of running afoul of “speculative accumulation” regulations. Under the federal government’s CRT Rule, speculative accumulation doesn’t occur — and CRTs won’t be regulated as hazardous waste — as long as 75 percent of the material is recycled or transferred to a different site for recycling during the calendar year.

Pennsylvania officials say Nulife has speculatively accumulated 17 million pounds of material in the Keystone State. Now E-Scrap News has learned why that material was stored there in the first place: years of struggling to meet New York’s regulations.

Can recycling keep pace with plastic’s evolution?

via Resource Recycling – Posted on   by p

Innovators in the resin realm often get a bad rap for prioritizing functionality over recyclability. But according to one bioplastics executive, end-of-life is still top-of-mind for many companies developing cutting-edge materials.

In a webinar earlier this month, Steve Davies of PLA resin manufacturer NatureWorks pointed to estimates that show only 14 percent of plastic material globally actually gets recovered, and he said those types of statistics keep him and his colleagues up at night.

“We are always thinking about how to avoid being part of that 86 percent,” Davies noted.

The question of how to make such resin recovery hopes a reality as the plastics industry rapidly evolves was the focus of the Dec. 9 Pac Next webinar that featured Davies as well Marina Pietrosel of the SustainableStrat consultancy and Mike Centers ofTitus MRF Services.

Why things are not effective in movies, and why that’s not a good thing

“Why do almost no films ever show civilization functioning well, institutions doing their jobs, democracy working? The answer is simple: laziness.

A storyteller’s job is to keep his or her characters in pulse-pounding jeopardy for 90 minutes of film, or 600 pages of a novel. It’s hard to do that if they can dial 911 and get skilled professionals to come to their aid. So you see a panoply of tricks used by directors and authors to deny their characters useful aid.  That’s fine, but when the trick is to simply spread the assumption that there are no decent civil servants, there are no smart cops, there are no loyal first responders out there, then that spreads a propaganda message that such things are impossible in our real world.

It takes real writing skill to come up with a way of keeping your characters in jeopardy, despite there being skilled professionals who want to help them…..” – David Brin – 2016

My answers to questions on Quora

If median voters theorem holds then parties in two party systems should pick positions close to a median voters ideal point. What historical or current evidence can you provide to support or contradict the claim of this hypothesis?

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The whole concept of finding a political “Golden Mean” is faulty if each ‘wing’ starts from a position with significant variances from the status quo. For example: assume 0 is the status quo centerline marker on a bar between -5 and +5. If the minus side starts from marker 4 while the plus side starts from 1, the result would not end up at 0.

This is the argument Democrats have repeatedly made regarding attempts at compromise with Republicans, where Dems say their position is close to citizens preferences; but the Republican position is far to the right, so if they “meet” halfway, then Republicans ‘win’ and Democrats ‘lose’.

JKR

The Single Mother’s Manifesto

J.K. Rowling: The Single Mother’s Manifesto

Writing about web page http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article7096786.ece

From The Times Online, April 15, 2010 – J.K. Rowling writes:

JKRI’ve never voted Tory before, but . . .” Those much parodied posters, with their photogenic subjects and their trite captions, remind me irresistibly of glossy greetings cards. Indeed, the more I think about it, the more general elections have in common with the birthdays of middle life. Both entail a lot of largely unwelcome fuss; both offer unrivalled opportunities for congratulation and spite, and you have seen so many go by that a lot of the excitement has worn off.

Nevertheless, they become more meaningful, more serious. Behind all the bombast and balloons there is the melancholy awareness of more time gone, the tally of ambitions achieved and of opportunities missed.

So here we are again, taking stock of where we are, and of where we would like to be, both as individuals and as a country. Personally, I keep having flashbacks to 1997, and not merely because of the most memorable election result in recent times. In January that year, I was a single parent with a four-year-old daughter, teaching part-time but living mainly on benefits, in a rented flat. Eleven months later, I was a published author who had secured a lucrative publishing deal in the US, and bought my first ever property: a three-bedroom house with a garden.

I had become a single mother when my first marriage split up in 1993. In one devastating stroke, I became a hate figure to a certain section of the press, and a bogeyman to the Tory Government. Peter Lilley, then Secretary of State at the DSS, had recently entertained the Conservative Party conference with a spoof Gilbert and Sullivan number, in which he decried “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”. The Secretary of State for Wales, John Redwood, castigated single-parent families from St Mellons, Cardiff, as “one of the biggest social problems of our day”. (John Redwood has since divorced the mother of his children.) Women like me (for it is a curious fact that lone male parents are generally portrayed as heroes, whereas women left holding the baby are vilified) were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life.

An easy life. Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.

The new Labour landslide marked a cessation in government hostilities towards families like mine. The change in tone was very welcome, but substance is, of course, more important than style. Labour had great ambitions for eradicating child poverty and while it succeeded, initially, in reversing the downward trend that had continued uninterrupted under Tory rule, it has not reached its own targets. There remains much more to be done.

This is not to say that there have not been real innovations to help lone-parent families. First, childcare tax credits were introduced by Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, which were a meaningful way of addressing the fact that the single biggest obstacle for lone parents returning to work was not innate slothfulness but the near-impossibility of affording adequate childcare.

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How To Make $71 Billion A Year: Tax the Churches

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While the desire to tax churches is not new, it seems as far from reality as possible at this moment. As has been commented, no atheist could possibly hope to win an election in today’s political climate—a freethinking man like Robert Ingersoll would have no influence with the majority of our electorate. Our cultural dependency on the necessity of faith is affecting our society: According to a University of Tampa study, not taxing churches is taking an estimated $71 billion from our economy every year, and this fact remains largely unquestioned.

The general argument over why churches do not pay taxes goes like this: If there is a separation of church and state, then the state (or fed) has no right to collect money from the church. In exchange, churches cannot use their clout to influence politics. While this would seem to make for cozy bedfellows, it’s impossible to believe that none of the 335,000 congregations in the United States are using their resources for political purposes, especially when just last week the Kansas governor called for a ‘Day of Salvation‘ in his state. 

Churches not paying property and federal income taxes (along with a host of others, including reduced rates on for-profit properties and parsonage subsidies) is filed into that part of our brain marked ‘always been.’ Never mind the conundrum that the most religious are often the most patriotic—what could be less patriotic than not paying your fair share for the good of the country, especially when church structures and those who work for them use the same public utilities as the rest of us? 

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