Day: May 30, 2007

Government fights to prevent testing slaughtered cattle for mad cow

Imagine a country where the government will go to great lengths to prevent you, a small business, from holding your products to high safety standards because it is concerned that big business will be hurt. Well, if you live in the US of A, it is your government! Yes, it sounds anti-competitive to me, and it is, but the USDA is in the hands of big business, and the plutocracy protectionary principle is in full force here, I can only laugh! Wouldn’t you like it if you’re suspected of a crime and try to argue that you don’t want to be fingerprinted because there might be a false positive identification on you? I suspect you would not get very far with that argument!

That being said, it would be interesting to compare the incidence rate of mad cow disease with the incidence rate of false positives, would settle this question…

U.S. government fights to keep meatpackers from testing all slaughtered cattle for mad cow – International Herald Tribune

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

What happens when…

the national science academies of the 13 most important countries release a landmark strong statement about the state of the world’s energy crisis? According to the grist, nobody listens. Well, here’s to my 10 or so readers (self deprecation is the best deprecation!), the rant!

Bad news re: good news about bad news | Gristmill: The environmental news blog | Grist

The bad news is that we are in quite a pickle.

The good news about the bad news is that the national science academies of the G8 countries, along with those of Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, China, and India, have issued a unanimous and remarkably strong statement about our global energy quandary.

The bad news about the good news about the bad news is that the press is almost totally silent about it, at least in English-speaking countries.

Among the crucial statements in this document (PDF):

  • “Our present energy course is not sustainable.”
  • “Responding to this demand while minimizing further climate change will need all the determination and ingenuity we can muster.”
  • “The problem is not yet insoluble but becomes more difficult with each passing day.”
  • “G8 countries bear a special responsibility for the current high level of energy consumption and the associated climate change. Newly industrialized countries will share this responsibility in the future.”

Let me be as polite as I can stand about this. Where in the @$#! is the press?

And it goes on in similar vein…

If you read the pdf, you will note that it has the obvious solutions (obvious to the half alive, that is)

  1. Set standards and promote economic instruments for efficiency, and commit to promoting energy efficiency for buildings, devices, motors, transportation systems and in the energy sector itself.
  2. Promote understanding of climate and energy issues and encourage necessary behavioural changes within
    our societies.
  3. Define and implement measures to reduce global deforestation.
  4. Strengthen economic and technological exchange with developing countries, in order to leapfrog to cleaner and more efficient modern technologies.
  5. Invest strongly in science and technology related to energy efficiency, zero-carbon energy resources and carbon-removing technologies.

Nothing new here, just a very easy policy framework under which every major action taken by every one of these countries (and others) needs to work. Of course, planning, evaluation, implementation, etc. are difficult, especially on the technology transfer, behavioral change, and deforestation, but evaluate every major decision under this framework. You will see that things like corn ethanol (promotes deforestation, carbon intensive, not energy efficient), coal to liquid technology (carbon intensive, polluting, inhibits behavioral change), suburban sprawl (energy inefficient, inhibits behavioral change, etc.), excessive patent protection and intellectual property rights (inhibits technology transfer), war (well, everything on the list, really!), and I can keep going on, are just plain stupid, irresponsible and will lead the world to ruin.

just print that framework out (or better still, put it in your PDA) and evaluate every thing you read about energy policy using it. You’ll see why I beat my head against the wall a lot!

Also, note this simple two sentence evisceration of the “China and India are not doing it, so we won’t” argument…

G8 countries bear a special responsibility for the current high level of energy consumption and the associated climate change. Newly industrialized countries will share this responsibility in the future

I would add, of course, that G8 countries bear both current, and historical responsibility, other than that, well said.