URLs du Jour


  • Hannah Ritchie at Our World in Data takes on the locavores: You want to reduce the carbon footprint of your food? Focus on what you eat, not whether your food is local.

    There is rightly a growing awareness that our diet and food choices have a significant impact on our carbon ‘footprint’. What can you do to really reduce the carbon footprint of your breakfast, lunches, and dinner?

    ‘Eating local’ is a recommendation you hear often – even from prominent sources, including the United Nations. While it might make sense intuitively – after all, transport does lead to emissions – it is one of the most misguided pieces of advice.

    Eating locally would only have a significant impact if transport was responsible for a large share of food’s final carbon footprint. For most foods, this is not the case.

    GHG emissions from transportation make up a very small amount of the emissions from food and what you eat is far more important than where your food traveled from.

    But (I'm just reporting the facts here), if you're really concerned about your diet's carbon footprint, just this one simple trick would help a lot: knock off the burgers. Here's Hannah's estimate of how various foods add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere:


    Interesting! Click over to find the full-size chart. And the primary contributor to the emissions: those legendary farting beef herds.

    Aside: Getty Images provides a lot of results for a "farting cows" search.

  • So, if we at some point get a carbon tax, you can expect that burger to cost you a lot more. And (considered as a whole) the incentives will probably "work" to decrease the farting cow population. But don't call the result market-based! Because, as David Harsanyi points out at National Review: Sorry, Your Newest Government-Run Technocratic Scheme Is Not a ‘Market-Based Solution’.

    The term “market-based solution” intimates — or should — that the answer to a problem can be found in the innovations created through a series of voluntary economic decisions made by millions of individuals in millions of interactions, not a top-down state-run pricing plan concocted by a gaggle of politicians and economists. (Another irritating habit of technocrats is to declare that “economists” — every one, apparently — agrees with them on any given policy. Obama pulled the trick when selling voters on the bank bailouts. [Carbon-tax advocate George Schultz does the same in [his recent op-ed piece in the Washington Post]. .)

    It’s impossible for anyone to price the negative externalities of carbon emissions just as it’s impossible for anyone to put a price on massive positive externalities of affordable and plentiful fossil fuels. Some of us just happen believe the benefits far exceed the costs — a reality that more Americans will internalize when they are forced to wait for a breeze to pick up before being able to heat their homes.

    Just because something isn't market-based doesn't necessarily equate to its badness. David's just griping about the marketing. (Just as I did a couple weeks back with the claim that a carbon tax would be "transparent". Negatory on that too, good buddy.)

  • We seem to have a theme going today. At Reason, Ronald Bailey has the solution to man-made climate change! Specifically: Ecomodernism Is the Solution to Man-Made Climate Change. Specifically, he likes the take of Ted Nordhaus:

    Nordhaus' ecomodernist solution to climate change mirrors my own analysis from back in 2009: "It is surely not unreasonable to argue that if one wants to help future generations deal with climate change, the best policies would be those that encourage rapid economic growth. This would endow future generations with the wealth and superior technologies that could be used to handle whatever comes at them including climate change."

    Taking economic growth and technological trends into account—along with the fact that the world's population will probably peak before 2100—the Breakthrough Institute's Zeke Hausfather and the University of British Columbia's Justin Ritchie recently calculated that the real business-as-usual trajectory of future emissions would result in an increase of global average temperature of about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. Challenging, but not apocalyptic.

    But can I still have my burgers? Well, I probably shouldn't anyway.

  • Yet another response to Tyler Cowen, this one from John O. McGinnis The Inadequacy of State Capacity Libertarianism. John likes good old classical liberalism:

    But classical liberalism has enduring lessons for politics. Classical liberalism differs from most modern libertarianism in three important ways. First, it is far more willing to recognize that individual freedom can create social harms that government should help ameliorate—generally indirectly by encouraging certain kinds of associations. Second, it is more confident that something can be said, albeit at a high level of generality, about the good life and good character. It recognizes that civic virtue needs social encouragement. In the long run, a nation can only enjoy liberties with few external restraints from the government if its citizens have strong internal restraints of civic character. Finally, classical liberalism recognizes, unlike many libertarians, that the state has a duty to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves, even while trying to structure aid in a way that prevents a culture of dependency.

    Liberalism in the 19th century exemplified these differences. Tocqueville recognized that civic mediating institutions and the habits they inculcated were essential to a free society. Victorian liberals supported aid to the poor but, as the late great historian Gertrude Himmelfarb has described, sharply distinguished between the deserving and the not-so-deserving poor. That distinction not only has good incentives for the poor but helps express the larger social values of honesty, thrift, and self-control needed for a liberal society.

    Labels are useful, but they invariably oversimplify.

  • And finally, the Mackinac Center has some thoughts on one legislative response to the vaping panic: Proposed Flavor Bans Invites Trouble. It's worth reading, but here's a factoid I didn't know:

    New Hampshire only imposes an excise tax of $1.78 per pack. Surrounded by higher-taxed neighbors, its treasury received an extra $81.7 million as a direct result of smuggling in 2017. For every 100 cigarettes smoked in the Live Free or Die State, another 65 were acquired there and smuggled out. This latter figure will climb — perhaps dramatically — thanks to an outright ban in Massachusetts and, if adopted in Vermont, smuggling rates will rise there, too. And there may be little law enforcement in either state can do to stop it.

    Well, there's a whole new dimension to LFOD. For the record, the excise taxes in neighboring states are $3.08 in VT, $3.51 in MA, but a measly $2.00 in ME.

Last Modified 2024-02-02 4:53 AM EDT