Tuesday, January 19, 2016

East Coast Snow Bomb, Meet Global Warming Gasoline

Warm water fuels storms, whether summer hurricanes or winter blizzards. As a major winter snowstorm looks set to race up the East Coast this weekend, take a look at how warm the Atlantic water is right now:

Will any of the media coverage mention climate change, or will we spend another winter wrapping ourselves in a blanket of denial?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Don't Spend the Extra Money on Grassfed Milk

Organic Valley Grassfed Milk recently hit the shelves of my local Market Basket, retailing for $1 more per half-gallon than standard organic milk. Since I'm a strange person who can't go grocery shopping without coming home with a research project, I wanted to see if it was actually worth the extra money.

If you're buying milk, it's worth it to buy organic, and Organic Valley is one of the better national brands. But is it worth paying that much more for grassfed milk?

The short answer is no:
  • Grassfed cows seem to be no less destructive to the environment than standard cows
  • The evidence grassfed milk is healthier is pretty limited. It's a bit of a Rorchach - if you're inclined to believe grassfed is healthier, you'll find evidence to back you up. If you're more skeptical, you'll wonder if it's worth paying 25 percent more just for a slightly better omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
  • Organic milk is already better for you and the environment than standard milk, and whole milk is better for you than you think
  • If you really want to cut the environmental impact of your milk drinking, switch to soy
Grassfed milk seems to be more of a marketing gimmick than a health or environmental benefit. Oh, you won't spend an extra $1 per half-gallon on grassfed milk? I guess you don't really love your children, huh?

If you have $1 a week to help yourself & the planet, I'd rather you switch to clean electricity.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Michigan GOP Begs Big Government to Solve Flint Water Crisis

After Michigan officials tried to cut corners and ended up turning Flint's water supply toxic, Gov. Rick Snyder is now asking the Obama administration to step in to help.

Whether it's the deficit, the Iraq war, climate change or any of a list of hundreds of other problems big and small, it's a pattern we see time after time:
  1. Elect Republicans who brashly slash regulations and public investments
  2. Beg Democrats to use big government to save them from the resulting disaster
Considering how badly so many people in Flint have been poisoned, I don't know how Gov. Snyder doesn't go to prison for this.

Monday, January 11, 2016

2015's Most Popular Posts at The Green Miles

The top posts of 2015 by page views here at The Green Miles:
  1. Comcast's New "Power Save" X1 Boxes Still Waste Tons of Energy  
  2. Parking Lot Historic, Solar Farm Not  
  3. New England Coalition for Affordable Energy: The Latest Fracked Gas Pipeline Front Group  
I've now received over 330,000 page views since starting this blog back in 2006. Thanks for reading!

And since I haven't gotten to brag about him here yet, here's our family's 2015 addition: Harry the mini goldendoodle:

Friday, January 8, 2016

"Market Forces" Aren't Boosting SUVs - Congress is Subsidizing Them

driving in the land of giants

With gas prices plummeting below $2 a gallon, SUV and pickup sales are skyrocketing while sales of fuel-efficient and electric cars stall. The conventional wisdom among auto writers is that greenie efforts to cut gas consumption are failing in the face of the Free Market:
It’s the classic battle between market forces and regulators. [...]

Even if you’re a die-hard green car person—or at the very least, someone who sees the long-term value in weaning cars off fossil fuels, as I certainly can—you can see what a tough situation this is for automakers. Standards are forcing them to make cars that people may not necessarily buy, and that they may not necessarily profit from. But what’s the alternative, the government backs off on making cars more efficient? That’s not likely to happen anytime soon.
It is completely false to call this a battle between “market forces and regulators.” The free market hasn’t kept the gas tax artificially low - Congress has done that.

Congress hasn't raised the federal gas tax in more than 20 years. Since it's a set rate of 18.4 cents a gallon that's not indexted to inflation, the tax has effectively fallen 34 percent since 1993. It’s now totally insufficient even to cover the costs of building & maintaining highways, never mind the social costs of burning gas, from local air pollution to global warming.

That low gas tax acts as a subsidy for SUVs and a disincentive for buying electric cars, one it has nothing to do with the free market and everything to do with oil companies’ friends in Congress.

On top of that, the Obama administration has adopted a drill baby drill stance, with active US oil rigs more than doubling under his watch. Again - regulators, not "market forces," putting a thumb on the scale for flooding the market with cheap gas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Opposing My Project Doesn't Make Yours Any More Likely

reservoir-dogs-standoffThe stupidest argument I hear on transit is this: "(Progressive idea A) isn't all that great - (progressive idea B) is what we should get behind!"

We should do both - in fact, we can only do both. Opposing A makes the success of B less likely, because losing drains political power.

If you lose on A, the money isn't any more likely to go to B - in fact, it's less likely to do so because you just lost, so GFY. It's a myth that project funding is zero-sum - budgets are made up by politicians, and if you have power there'll be more, and if you don't have power there'll always be less.

In contrast, winning on A makes B even more likely, because winning builds political power, and again, there's always exactly as much money as we're willing to fight for & have the power to deliver.

See:
What other examples did I miss?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Warmth Breaking Records, But Media Largely Silent on Causes

An El Nino getting a boost from global warming is breaking winter warmth and lack of snowfall records across a huge swath of the country. As I write in a new post for Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, the media is talking about the warmth but is mostly ignoring its causes.