Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

A scathing indictment of the (highly artificial) sports culture

leave a comment »

Somehow it reminds me of nothing so much as factory farming: playing music to the cows to increase milk production in the “whatever it takes” spirit. Or the way slaughterhouses are now designed by animal behaviorists to minimize problems due to the cattle becoming fearful or angry: soothing and reassuring environments right up until the hammer falls. Or how casinos have no windows, no clocks, and seating only at the game tables. Free/cheap booze, though…

All examples of how the behavior of animals must be managed to improve corporate profits.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 October 2014 at 5:32 pm

Cats as pets, reconsidered

leave a comment »

I still like cats, but I do keep them indoors at all times

Written by LeisureGuy

17 October 2014 at 7:51 pm

Really, very like the script for a medical disaster movie

leave a comment »

A “breaking news” email from the LA Times:

Frontier jet reportedly made 5 flights before being taken out of service in Ebola incident
Los Angeles Times | October 15, 2014 | 12:41 PM

The Frontier Airlines jet that carried a Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola made five additional flights after her trip before it was taken out of service, a flight-monitoring website reported today.

Denver-based Frontier said in a statement that it grounded the plane Tuesday immediately after the carrier was notified by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the Ebola patient.

The Airbus A320 was put away for the night Monday after it carried the woman and 132 other passengers from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Flight 1143. But Tuesday morning the plane was flown back to Cleveland and then to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., back to Cleveland and then to Atlanta and finally back again to Cleveland, according to Daniel Baker, the chief executive of the flight monitoring site Flightaware.com.

This is more or less the beginning of any number of movies. 12 Monkeys, anyone?

BTW, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Dallas hospital was incompetent—this emergency was way over its head, and it’s interesting to read of how much was not done properly in order to save money. The manager of that hospital sees it as a business with his job to maximize profit. That it involves healthcare is secondary. And note the degree to which the problems stem from management and administration, and not from the healthcare workers, who were doing the best they can with the shoddy equipment, inadequate supplies, and inadequate staffing—and, as we see, inadequate training. Training is always a big, fat target for cost-cutters because it cuts a real cost and the damage resulting is usually unobserved. In the case of the Dallas hospital, all those dollars saved by inadequate training and staffing and the incompetent management of the crisis suddenly look penny-wise, pound-foolish.

For more info:

C.D.C. Says It Should Have Responded Faster to the Dallas Ebola Case

Nurses at Dallas hospital describe poor safety measures with Ebola victim

Our Superbug Problem

In the meantime, of course, we continue to use enormous quantities of antibiotics fed to livestock in a determined effort to breed microbes and infectious diseases that are resistant to all the antibiotics at our disposal. Because we roll that way. The third article includes this:

Medically unsound practices may be part of the superbug problem. In India, antibiotics have been available over the counter for decades. This practice has led to the development and spread of ESBL-producing organisms and, more recently, the NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1) gene, which confers resistance to the strongest antibiotics available. The NDM-1 strain was first reported in 2010 among patients in India and Pakistan and those in theU.S. and Britain who had received medical care in those countries. Since that time, the NDM-1 gene has spread around the globe. Responding to concerns of Indian physicians and the international community, this year the Indian government mandated that a prescription would be required for all antibiotics, but this rule is not strictly enforced.

While India may indeed be at fault for overuse of antibiotics, the US is certainly in no position to point fingers. I would be the antibiotic usage in the US agricultural industry far exceeds that used for medical purposes in India. And note that in the US all the animals get the antibiotic, whether sick or not: we’re in a hurry to make sure our animals harbor only those microbes most strongly resistant to antibiotics. Why? To make a little bit more money: faster meat production, for example.

That tells you pretty much all you need to know about America’s current system of values.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 October 2014 at 1:09 pm

Wind Power Is Actually Cheaper Than Coal, Says Leaked Government Report

leave a comment »

Wow! That’s a game changer. I would bet the coal industry is sending pallets of money down to Washington to get that report killed. Look for US government-funded counter-studies within months if not weeks. (And the GOP will of course dismiss it out of hand: it’s European, and physics and chemistry and so on are very different over there…  metric and stuff.)

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2014 at 1:25 pm

Voluntary compliance quickly becomes voluntary noncompliance—since it’s basically okay (“voluntary,” remember)

leave a comment »

It never changes. Industry will always push for voluntary guidelines, with a fallback to monitored voluntary guidelines, so long as they do the monitoring.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 October 2014 at 12:42 pm

There’s a Slow Motion Oil Spill Underway at Every Gas Station in the Nation

leave a comment »

Grim (albeit interesting) article. And the clean-up costs? Who do you think will pay for those?

You know what? Here’s the solution: stop the oil-depletion allowance right this very minute. My God, why would we even have such a thing, knowing what we now know? And the money gained from ending the allowance can go directly to cleaning up the hundreds of thousands of oil spills in the country—where businesses were able to grow profits by making sure costs are paid with other people’s money: to wit, taxpayers. It is not exactly a scam, but a very deliberate chiseling of the public.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 October 2014 at 4:16 pm

Fighting Global Warming: Cheap and Free?

leave a comment »

Paul Krugman has a hopeful column, although the hope part depends on rational responses from governments…  so perhaps not so hopeful. Still, it’s something:

This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free. But will anyone believe the good news?

I’ve just been reading two new reports on the economics of fighting climate change: a big study by a blue-ribbon international group, the New Climate Economy Project, and a working paper from the International Monetary Fund. Both claim that strong measures to limit carbon emissions would have hardly any negative effect on economic growth, and might actually lead to faster growth. This may sound too good to be true, but it isn’t. These are serious, careful analyses.

But you know that such assessments will be met with claims that it’s impossible to break the link between economic growth and ever-rising emissions of greenhouse gases, a position I think of as “climate despair.” The most dangerous proponents of climate despair are on the anti-environmentalist right. But they receive aid and comfort from other groups, including some on the left, who have their own reasons for getting it wrong.

Where is the new optimism about climate change and growth coming from? It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think. But the economics of climate protection look even better now than they did a few years ago.

On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010. Renewables have their limitations — basically, the sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow — but if you think that an economy getting a lot of its power from wind farms and solar panels is a hippie fantasy, you’re the one out of touch with reality.

On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large “co-benefits” — positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks — and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 September 2014 at 3:38 pm

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,294 other followers

%d bloggers like this: