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Joined 3 months ago
Cake day: April 6th, 2024


  • There’s definitely some truth to the asymetric way we talk about heating dominated vs cooling dominated climates. I don’t hear people criticize folks for living in Alaska or the upper Midwest or NE despite their massive heating costs, and this type of living isn’t inherently any more noble than AC use (although synthetic refrigerants are all awful, but we use them for heat pumps too). Lack of water is a bigger issue arguably, cold is seen as more survivable than extreme heat, but carbon is carbon. The American SW used to have more water though, and their civilizations lived quite differently than modern Phoenicians.

    Example numbers - I live in Colorado, have a high end cold climate heat pump, and use 10x the energy seasonally to heat my home vs cool my home. I also make excess solar power even when cooling in the summer, but winter is another story. I used 10 kWh yesterday when it was 100F (an amount an EV owner might casually use every single day), almost all covered entirely by my solar panels (except dusk until about 10pm when it shut off), while the coldest day last winter was -15F and I used almost 80 kWh that day, almost zero of it from solar because snow on the roof. We’re not going to get everyone to move at the macro level, so micro level movements, resiliency, and adapting to the environment rather than fighting it make the most sense.

    The grasshopper and ant parable is about preparation and not the virtue of winter. It’s equally applicable to heat waves, storm surges, flooding, water, etc.

  • UCI takes a classic approach to racing so that the bikes don’t become the story, and that’s ok. Recumbents are weird, and nobody is stopping you or anyone else from creating a recumbent league. There has already been a gravel UCI WC since 2022 as well. Disc brakes weren’t universally praised immediately either - it took years for the pieces the fall into place, like carbon rims, wider tires, through axles, etc. and now everyone uses them. I really fail to see the harm here over “slow” adoption. You can’t please everyone.

  • “New generation of engineers” is a bit cringe. The old generation knew thermodynamics pretty damn well. All that’s changed is they’re using R290 refrigerants and variable speed compressors now, but those don’t change anything from a physics perspective. COP is fun but it’s not even the right metric to use from a policy perspective, just like MPG. And despite being unitless, COP suffers from the same exagerative effect as MPG numbers. What matters is the carbon associated with delivering BTUs to a home, so here you can have the ridiculous case of delivering more BTUs at a higher carbon cost achieving a higher SCOP than the same exact heat pump delivering fewer BTUs at a lower total carbon cost achieving a lower SCOP for a better insulated home, and the person with the higher SCOP bragging about it like a clown. At least when the government tests COP it’s a standardized test so you can actually compared equipment (somewhat).

    Regardless, nerds gonna nerd and no harm done (and I also track real time energy use of my heat pump, so I consider myself a nerd).

  • Ultimately we must do the best with what’s available to us, just like you’re doing. Electrify everything, get the most efficient stuff you can, and vote and trust your regulators are decarbonizing the grid. I’m in CO and although I am on track to overproduce on an annual basis with my 8 kW system, I’m not even close to matching my usage daily and especially not seasonally (good luck in January when my heat pump is cranking and I have a foot of snow on the panels). I’m able to retire my own RECS for my production so at least Xcel doesn’t get to use my solar to meet their targets, but I’m clearly very heavily dependent on their grid.

    We’re maybe a decade behind CA in solar adoption and although I’m aggressively compensated by our current rate structure, that will surely change when the duck grows a belly here and solar is worth jack shit at high noon. It’s a fascinating industry.

  • Incredibly detailed article, thanks for sharing. I would like to see more detail on the conversions efficiencies however. We already know the economics of green hydrogen are quite poor without free renewable energy, so adding more conversion steps, accounting for losses and warming impacts from leaks, and then finally burning such fuels, often for low value uses like process heat (steel is another story) seems just awful when we have so much lower hanging fruit to worry about.

    Clearly there will be some niche uses for these types of fuels and ergo they must have a pathway to be carbon neutral, but at this stage it all feels like a massive distraction that conveniently preserves existing fossil infrastructure, which will undoubtedly result in it being used for fossil interests in the meantime.

  • First of all, this is an opinion piece. It tells a story about how fracking has harmed one ranch, and weaves it into a broader narrative about short term gains for a few shareholders against long term harm to the land. It doesn’t need to exhaustively cover all aspects of fracking.

    Second, NM isn’t PA. The land itself has a fragility that PA simply doesn’t. The high desert is a delicate ecosystem and even stepping on cryptobiotic soils for example can cause damage that leads to erosion. The absurdity of wasting water in the desert for fracking doesn’t compare to PA, and your point about water being ifinitely reusable is odd - go tell the folks in Flint that technically water can always be returned to a pure state and see how helpful that is. Let me dump PFAS in your well and shrug, mumbling something about evaporation fixing your problems before I scamper off to poison your neighbors well.

    Lastly, while you’re spot on about the deficient regulatory structure and bond system for ensuring abandoned wells are taken care of, the reality is much worse than your anecdote about perfectly plugged wells. These are sold off to shell corps and they often continue to leak for decades because it’s cheaper to do nothing than to abandon wells safely. This is a major problem, Colorado for example has implemented reforms but they are still not even close to funding proper well plugs around the state.