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Meat wagon: pork superbug!

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrives in CAFO pork, and Wall Street gobbles up Big Meat shares

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Back in December, Michael Pollan wrote a important article about the antibiotic resistant bacteria MSRA, which Pollan decsribed like this: ... the very scary antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that is now killing more Americans each year than AIDS -- 100,000 infections leading to 19,000 deaths in 2005, according to estimates in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Pollan writes that such strains have been around for a while, emanating from hospitals, where our medical experts quixotically drench patients with antibiotics, inevitably incubating resistant -- and …


Thought of the day: Don't call 100 percent auctioning cap-and-trade

If 100 percent auctioning is done right, the trade component will be trivial

If all permits are auctioned, where is the need for large-scale trading? With modern electronics, there is no reason most permits can't be bought directly by those using them. Yes, there will be some trading: people will buy too many and need to resell, or engage in hedging, or use a broker for convenience's sake. But if the auctioning process is not made a major pain, these should be trivial in scale compared to direct purchase. Our short name should not emphasize the role of trade. Why is the terminology important? If you refer to support for 100 percent auctioning …


Tell us something we don't know

The Kansas City Star: New coal plants are expensive

The Kansas City Star reports: Electric bills are poised to soar for customers of utilities building coal-fired power plants. Coal-based electric utility executive responds: We're moving forward regardless of what you namby-pamby, cheap-energy-loving hippies think.* Michael Dworkin then raises the obvious question: You've got to ask: "Do you think we have reached a point where it economically doesn't make sense?" It will be interesting to see how this affects the Sunflower Electric debate, since the state does now seem to be getting beyond the false belief that coal is cheap. *Italicized text implied but entirely fabricated by the author.


Biodiesel in the dumps

To survive, producers wanly import feedstock and export fuel

At this point, serious greens still promoting biofuels are in a tight corner. Global grain stocks are at all-time lows and prices at all-time highs. That means heavy incentives to clear new land to plant crops -- in precious rainforest regions in South America and Southeast Asia that sustain indigenous peoples and store titanic amounts of carbon. These lands are also concentrated centers of biodiversity. Sacrificing them for car fuel is a heinous crime. Anyone who wants to argue that such efforts amount to "economic development in the Third World" will have to account for a stark fact: transnational agribusiness …


CEO charged with seeking profit

In the course of an off-the-shelf rant about Wal-Mart, Z.P. Heller says this: While Wal-Mart may be working to reduce their carbon footprint, it became clear that to Scott, reducing waste means making money, not fulfilling an environmental promise. The mind boggles.


Good Jobs, Green Jobs: Part 3

One last word from the National Green Jobs Conference

I'll soon be tackling new eco-job and career issues, but I've got one last piece of business related to my time at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference last week. I've recounted what happened and who was there, and explained how we might define green jobs. Now, I'll address one final question from Grist readers: "What's the main barrier to the growth of green jobs?" In a word: politics. In the dim past (1970-1999), it was generally agreed that government action was needed to generate environmental protection and conservation. And we learned along the way that creative public policies, regulations, …


Latest hot commodity: coal

As coal prices rise, U.S. coal exports boom

Environmentalists have helped scuttle more than 50 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. in the past year. That's fantastic. But the movement to stop coal won't help the climate unless it can globalize; for the climate, coal burned in China traps just as much warmth as coal burned in Texas. Nor will stopping more U.S. coal-fired power plants help save communities in the mining zones of Appalachia from environmental and economic devastation. That's because U.S. coal companies are merrily exporting excess coal abroad. Check out this New York Times graphic: U.S. coal exports are up from under 40 million tons …


ECO:nomics: More evidence of Exxon’s evil genius

ExxonMobil sent one representative to the conference: a beautiful, smart, well-spoken, wryly funny young woman with long blond hair. Next thing I know, there I am talking to her over cocktails, thinking, yeah, Exxon does spend a lot on energy R&D! They really are leading the search for alternatives to oil! Gol she's purty! Damn you Exxon!


Meyerson on the need for a new New Deal

Harold Meyerson has a lucid, insightful column in the Washington Post today about the recent financial mess: The key lesson Americans need to learn from today's troubles is how to distinguish faux prosperity from the genuine article. Over the past hundred years, we've experienced both. In the three decades after World War II we had the real thing. Led by our manufacturing sector, productivity increased at a rapid clip and median family incomes rose at a virtually identical rate. The value of the American work product grew significantly and that value was shared with American workers. But we've had other …


Industry launches campaign against Lieberman-Warner climate bill

Energy industry and business trade groups have launched a concerted campaign against the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. The bill, which would establish a cap-and-trade system to reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions, is much less stringent than some other climate bills in Congress, but Lieberman-Warner is so far the only one to pass out of committee; it's scheduled for a Senate vote in June. Industry and business groups are sponsoring a 17-state anti-climate-bill tour to head off the legislation. The centerpiece of the roadshow is an industry-funded study stressing huge job losses and energy price hikes due to the bill. Also this week, …