Business & Technology

Growing pains

Is raw milk becoming too popular for its own good?

Whatha’s looking it? As raw milk’s popularity grows, so does scrutiny. It’s been a tough twelve months for proponents of raw milk. Last April, as many as 81 Colorado consumers were sickened by campylobacter associated with raw milk. Last September, about 35 people became ill with campylobacter, apparently from milk from a Wisconsin dairy. And just in the last few weeks, 17 raw milk drinkers in the Midwest associated with a dairy in Indiana have become ill with campylobacter. Added to all that, Whole Foods last month notified producers in four states—California, Washington, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania—that it would no longer …

The problem with a green economy: economics hates the environment

Cross-posted from the Wonk Room. Economics is critical to getting decent climate legislation passed, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman discusses in a extended piece for the New York Times. Economists like me have always suspected that this was true, but then we also suspect that economics is critical to pretty much everything. The problem is that economics hates the environment, or at least environmental policy. In the real world, environmental policy has been very good for the economy. But economic analyses of climate legislation find that pollution limits slow economic growth and increase costs. The Waxman-Markey climate bill — …

A must-read

Paul Krugman on ‘Building a Green Economy’

Nobelist Paul Krugman has a long piece in the upcoming Sunday New York Times Magazine, basically climate economics 101. It is nearly 8000 words, so while you should read the whole thing, I’ll post some of the highlights below. I’ll also throw some links to the scientific and economic literature that the NYT, in its infinite wisdom/stupidity, refuses to include. The essay isn’t primarily about the science, but this is what Krugman has to say on that, starting with the opening paragraph: If you listen to climate scientists — and despite the relentless campaign to discredit their work, you should …

Energy X-games

Meet America’s most extreme energy geeks

Photo courtesy PNNL via FlickrJet-engine wind turbines, fuel made from big batches of algae, enzymes that trap power plant CO2. Sound seriously far-fetched? They may be. But these concepts are fetching serious investment dollars from the Department of Energy. DOE Secretary Steven Chu — a Nobel Prize-winning inventor himself — has launched a new program dubbed “ARPA-E.” It’s modeled after DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), the Pentagon’s technology-innovation program that was responsible for the internet, cell phones, GPS, and other technical breakthroughs. ARPA-E is doling out multimillion dollar grants to the nation’s most visionary energy innovators — thrill-seeking, over-achieving …

Snidely Q. Blankenship

This week in comically evil corporate behavior

Updated It’s only Wednesday and we’ve already got way more than a week’s worth of comically evil behavior from the fossil-fuel sector. Item the first: A Chinese coal freighter tried to take a shortcut through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and rammed into the world-reknowned ecological treasure. The stranded ship remains in danger of breaking apart and spilling its 1,075 tons of heavy engine fuel into the marine park (2.5 tons have already leaked). Captain Wang Jichan, of the Chinese state-controlled conglomerate Cosco, doesn’t get it. He told authorities the leak is “not serious” and that he’s more worried …

we're number one

Americans eat more processed food than, well, anyone

The New York Times had a small article and a big graphic recently on America’s love affair with processed, packaged food: Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries. A sizable part of the American diet is ready-to-eat meals, like frozen pizzas and microwave dinners, and sweet or salty snack foods. This probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone, especially given our outsized obesity rates compared to other countries. But the accompanying graphic helpfully illustrates a most unfortunate …

Larry Summers serves up compelling economic case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation

Larry Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, used his luncheon speech at today’s Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook Conference to lay out a compelling case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The text of his remarks should be posted on the conference website soon and will be worth a read as he positioned his points about energy and climate in the context of an expansive overview of the economic crisis and the Obama administration’s strategy to get the U.S. economy back on track. In the meantime, here is an outline of the five key points he made …

Chewing the Scenery

Farm saved by community featured on CNN

In “Chewing the Scenery,” we round up interesting food-related video from around the Web. ——— Back in November, Grist’s own Bonnie Powell wrote a piece for the Ethicurean about the plight of Soul Food Farm, a Bay Area farm destroyed by a wildfire: Around 1:30 a.m. on the night of September 3, engineer-turned-chicken farmer Eric Koefed awoke thirsty, then saw a terrifying orange glow through the windows. A couple hundred yards away, just past the creek behind the house, a wall of fire was devouring the trees and back pasture of Soul Food Farm. “The farm is burning!” he screamed. …

trimming the pledges

America’s most bike-friendly cities and big green pledges

Bicycling Magazine released its annual list of America’s most bike-friendly cities today, and Grist’s hometown Seattle comes in at No. 4. Great, right? Well, sort of: The mag bases its praise on the city’s 10-year, $240-million bike master plan, which is intended to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths. But that lovely plan is currently underfunded by nearly $165 million, or 70 percent. While the local media caught the discrepancy, Bicycling Magazine didn’t, and Seattle is once again praised based on its promises, not its actions. I haven’t fact-checked the rest …