So egregious that they make the Bush administration look reasonable. I repeat my contention that completely eliminating this boondoggle that trashes the environment, increases incentives for obesity, and distorts the entire global agricultural trade should be a high priority for environmentalists. Step #1: call it what it is -- corporate welfare.
This 47 minute video on the essence of debt currency briefly touches on perhaps the critical environmental issue of the time: can anything be done about our deficits in the real world (in carbon sinks, fisheries, clean water, etc.) if we have no way to think about public policy except through the language of "what it will do to the economy"? Despite the paranoid tone, the fundamental question asked in this video is the right one: is a sustainable world even plausible if we continue to accept a monetary system that must grow without end?
Global warming takes down its first major political victim: Conservative Prime Minister John Howard suffered a humiliating defeat Saturday at the hands of the left-leaning opposition, whose leader has promised to immediately sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Why the stunning loss? A key reason was Howard's "head in the sand dust" response to the country's brutal once-in-a-thousand year drought. As the UK's Independent reported in April: ... few scientists dispute the part played by climate change, which is making Australia hotter and drier ... Until a few months ago, Mr Howard and his ministers pooh-poohed the climate-change doomsayers. You can read about Howard's lame attempt to change his position rhetoric on global warming here.
Leaders of 14 Asian countries, along with Australia and New Zealand, have signed onto a climate pact that says — well, nothing in particular, really. Maybe it’s the thought that counts, but setting specific goals …
In his first major speech on the environment, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has suggested that Britain could aim to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. To accomplish said goal, Brown promised that …
This is a guest post from Britt Lundgren, an Agricultural Policy Fellow at Environmental Defense. It is part of a recent conversation on agricultural policy. ----- Fixing farm policy, which has been the single largest influence on the shape of agriculture in the U.S. since the Dust Bowl, is not easy. "Not easy" will seem a drastic understatement to anyone who has followed the endless debate on the Senate floor over the past two weeks, which has produced much hand-wringing and rhetoric about our "safe and abundant food supply," but no actual Farm Bill. Tom Philpott has argued in recent posts that farm subsidies are a symptom of the problems associated with modern agriculture rather than the cause, and that efforts to end subsidies are bad policy. In his view, overproduction is the true culprit, and unless farm bill reforms include a mechanism to control supply we will continue to have problems. It's easy to blame everything on overproduction, but it is just not accurate. Prices for corn, soybeans, and many other commodity crops are higher than they've ever been right now. Prices don't rise when there's too much of a commodity, they rise when demand exceeds supply. I do agree with Mr. Philpott on one point: simply ending farm subsidies is not going to immediately end all of the environmental problems caused or aggravated by agricultural production. But farm subsidy reform advocates are not talking about ending subsidies. We don't want to pull the rug out from underneath farmers. Instead, we want to exchange the wall-to-wall shag carpet for something more modest -- a safety net for farmers that is less market-distorting and costs less than $9 billion a year. A better safety net will do far less to amplify problems caused by agricultural production than current farm policy does, and will also free up funds that can be used to address these problems.
Yes, OPEC is now "pledging $750 million for research into climate change technology" (while opposing a cap-and-trade system). [Note to President Bush, Newt Gingrich, and Bjørn Lomborg -- it ain't a good sign when your climate strategy is the same as OPEC's.] OPEC, however, seems a tad confused on just what a technology-based strategy could do for oil:
A few final notes from Grist’s presidential climate forum, before (?) you get sick of me talking about it. Most memorable bits: Dennis Kucinich mentioning, at the very top of his speech, that he’s a …
Thomas Dobbs is Professor Emeritus of Economics at South Dakota State University, and a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Society Policy Fellow. ----- Tom Philpott wrote an article in which he challenged some of the key assumptions underlying Farm Bill reform efforts of the past year ("It's the Agronomy, Stupid"). He contended that gutting commodity subsidies would not solve the U.S.'s long-standing oversupply problems, and that we need the money currently in the "commodity" title to remain available for eventual support of conservation and other measures reformers hold dear. The following day, a guest post by Britt Lundgren appeared in Gristmill, contending that Philpott missed the real point of the Farm Bill debate. The real point, said Lundgren, is "whether or not the current suite of farm subsidies are actually an effective and productive way to support agriculture in the U.S." I find myself largely in agreement with the contents of Lundgren's post, but I want to address more directly Philpott's contention that "it's the agronomy" that matters. I disagree. "It's the economics" that matters in assessing the consequences of the U.S. farm program's heavy emphasis on commodity subsidies.
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