A round-up of what I’ve been reading recently on all things environmental.
“Fish in the Global Balance” – NYTimes Editorial:
Fish can offer higher rates of protein conversion than farmed animals. A pound of food results in a pound of weight gain for some fish, whereas the ratios are much higher for farmed animals… But the risks are the same as those found in any form of concentrated agriculture. They include pollution, destruction of natural resources like mangroves, genetic adulteration and the possibility of infection. And the food that feeds the most important farmed fishes, like salmon, has to come from somewhere — from the sea itself, or from grain, which in turn means more demand in an increasingly grain-strapped world.
“Study: Vegetarians Have Much Healthier Hearts” – The Atlantic:
For “the largest study ever conducted in the UK comparing rates of heart disease between vegetarians and non-vegetarians,” researchers at the University of Oxford drew upon data from almost 45,000 participants in a long term study… The self-proclaimed vegetarians had a 32 percent reduced risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart disease, accompanied by lower blood pressures and cholesterol levels, as compared to non-vegetarians.
“Windfarms break energy record in Spain” – The Guardian:
The country delivered over six terawatt hours of electricity from wind farms during January… The surge in new capacity will be largely driven by new offshore wind farms coming online and will mean the country remains on track to meet its goal of generating around 40 per cent of its electricity form renewables by 2020, up from about 25 per cent currently.
“It’s Not Easy Being Green” – David Leonhardt, NYTimes:
White House officials have already signaled that Mr. Obama is likely to use a 2007 Supreme Court decision — which gave the Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate greenhouse gases — to regulate existing power plants. In the first term, the E.P.A. relied on that decision to negotiate a steep increase in fuel-economy standards with automakers and to overhaul standards for newly constructed power plants. The rules for new power plants would effectively halt the construction of new coal plants.
Those rules relied mostly on mandates, like requiring automakers to have a certain average fuel efficiency across their entire fleet. And mandates can indeed reduce carbon emissions. In the second term, aides say Mr. Obama may also mandate that home appliances and office buildings produce fewer emissions.
[Waxman]: In my view, Congress needs to act. The task force hasn’t taken any positions yet, but Sen. Whitehouse and I both believe that we ultimately need to put a price on carbon to drive technology and give full incentives for market forces to achieve a transition to a low-carbon economy. That would benefit the country not just by reducing greenhouse gases, but also making us the leader in a key economic area.In my view a price on carbon makes sense because without it we are essentially subsidizing oil and coal — those fuels are not paying the full cost of the external damages they cause to the environment and public health. A carbon price would put all of these things on a level playing field.
I’m a third through John Broome’s new book, “Climate Matters”. Some thoughts later on today.