Daily Digest

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Daily Digest 6/3 - Good News Friday: Scotland Bans Fracking, Investing In Organics

Friday, June 3, 2016, 7:53 AM

This is Good News Friday, where we find some good economic, energy, and environmental news and share it with PP readers. Please send any positive news to [email protected] with subject header "Good News Friday." We will save and post weekly. Enjoy!

Economy

America’s jobs market has had a great 2016. Will it last? (jdargis)

New data slated to be released Friday will shed light on whether these trends continued in May. But the solid performance of recent months has shown that the economy can withstand the global turmoil that has repeatedly threatened to sideswipe the American recovery. Just a few months ago, analysts were raising the specter of another U.S. recession as plunging oil prices, a strong dollar and a slowdown in China caused wild swings in financial markets. Now, there are fears that Britain’s historic vote later this month over whether to remain in the European Union will spark renewed turbulence around the world.

Using CRISPR to Learn How a Body Builds Itself (jdargis)

CRISPR involves two components—a scissor enzyme that slices DNA, and a guide molecule that can precisely deploy the scissors to the target of choice. Shendure’s technique involves inserting a consecutive row of said targets into a quiet corner of a cell’s DNA, creating a sequence that acts as a barcode. It gets sliced up, and when the cell repairs these cuts, it does so imperfectly, occasionally adding in extra letters or deleting existing ones.

How an Artificial Leaf Could One Day Power Your Car (jdargis)

Nocera's team builds on the original leaf concept, first published in 2008, which was limited to just splitting up the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of water. In their new work, the team mirrors the making of carbohydrates. They take the hydrogen split off by the artificial leaf and use it to grow an artificial microbe. Ralstonia eutropha breathes in the hydrogen and eats CO2 out of the air, growing and reproducing.

Scotland Bans Fracking, Forever (Josh O.)

The Scottish vote comes right after local leaders in the North Yorkshire region of the United Kingdom approved industrial tests that would allow fracking in the country for the first time in more than five years.

Investing in Organics – a Profitable Endeavor (Adam)

There will always be risks involved in farming – be they conventional or organic – but there will also never be a time when humanity doesn’t require the nutrients of the natural world. Thus, it’s vital to continue the push for the advancement of farm capabilities.

More than any other risk, farms remain vulnerable to extreme weather that can cause the loss of crops, soil erosion, and other damages. (Just take a look at Munich RE’s natural catastrophe database for more evidence of this.)

Scientists Discover ‘Reverse Photosynthesis’ — Amazing News for the Environment (JM)

A new discovery promises to harness sunlight and air to turn plants into fuel — hundreds of times faster than current methods.
You probably learned in school how photosynthesis uses the sun to help plants grow by turning sunlight into chemical energy. Scientists have now discovered what they’re calling “reverse photosynthesis” which uses the same process to break down plant material and create useful chemicals from plants.

Farmer is Sweet on Bee Hives As Perfect Fence to Keep Elephants Safely Away (JM)

Biologists in Kenya have discovered a deliciously ingenious method of balancing the needs of farmers, bees, and marauding wildlife all at once.
African elephants are notoriously tempted by crops growing on nearby farms. Farmers, until now have known very few humane ways to prevent them from eating and trampling harvests. Fencing is typically too expensive for smaller farmers, while standing guard in fields with airhorns and bright lights is very labor-intensive.

What The U.S. Can Learn From China’s New Diet Restrictions (jdargis)

Livestock currently account for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, more than all the world’s vehicles combined. With global population ballooning—9 billion people are predicted by 2050—our meat and dairy intake is also projected to spike. Can we weather a 76% increase in global meat consumption? Probably not.

Gold & Silver

Click to read the PM Daily Market Commentary: 6/2/16

Provided daily by the Peak Prosperity Gold & Silver Group

Article suggestions for the Daily Digest can be sent to [email protected]. All suggestions are filtered by the Daily Digest team and preference is given to those that are in alignment with the message of the Crash Course and the "3 Es."

4 Comments

saxplayer00o1's picture
saxplayer00o1
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Jul 30 2009
Posts: 4064
MarketsNegative yielding sovereign debt swells to $10.4tn

MarketsNegative yielding sovereign debt swells to $10.4tn

Financial Times-20 hours ago

With central banks in Europe and Japan adopting negative interest rates, $10.4tn of sovereign debt carried negative yield in May, ratings agency Fitch said on ..

 

Treasury to Sell $113 Billion in Debt

Wall Street Journal-18 hours ago
The U.S. Treasury Department will auction $113 billion in securities next week, comprising $24 billion in new debt and $89 billion in previously auctioned debt.

Brazil's Distressed-Debt Market Predicted to Jump 9% This Year

Bloomberg-58 minutes ago
Banks under pressure to boost efficiency could help increase the annual distressed-debt market to 60 billion reais of non-performing loans, if large banks sell as ...

Brazil's Exploding Debt-to-GDP Is Going to Become a Problem Soon

Bloomberg-9 hours ago
Gross debt-to-GDP, while still at manageable levels for now, is on course to top 80 ... strategist at Union Bancaire Privee, which oversees $112 billion in assets.

Should Everyone Get a Government Allowance? Ask the Swiss

Wall Street Journal-19 hours ago
The price tag is expected to be about 200 billion francs a year, though some of that ... But from the fiscal side, its government debt is just 45% of gross domestic ...

S&P warns Chicago about potential rating cut over pensions

Reuters - ‎19 hours ago‎
"The city's credit quality could weaken unless it gains both union and legislative support for any changes to its municipal and laborers' plans, and identifies a solid funding mechanism to address the unfunded liabilities and prevent further ...

Puerto Rico Pension Plan Risks Insolvency Next Year, Audit Says

Bloomberg-15 hours ago
The panel would also analyze the island's pension system to address its low funding ... Bronin agreed to split those costs with Centerplan in exchange for the ...

 

Helix's picture
Helix
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 20 2008
Posts: 76
Meat production and greenhouse gas emissions

First, let me state that I agree with the authors of the article "What The U.S. Can Learn From China’s New Diet Restrictions" that Americans -- and people in the developed world generally -- could reap health benefits by reducing their meat intake.

Having said that, I am truly wearied by the old canard about meat production and greenhouse gas emissions being "more than all the world’s vehicles combined."  First, this simply doesn't jive with the most recent figures I have -- from 2014 -- which showed agriculture being responsible for 9% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation was responsible for 26% of these emissions.

Beyond that, there are so many fallacies hidden in this statement that it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just focus on the most obvious ones -- obvious but unmentioned.

First, all carbon emissions from livestock are already part of the "surface cycle."  That is, the carbon released into the air by the livestock was obtained from plants.  Those plants, in turn, obtained that carbon from the atmosphere in the form of CO2 by plant respiration.  It's a cycle.

Motor vehicles, on the other hand, burn gasoline or diesel fuel.  These fuels are obtained from petroleum extracted from deposits in the earth's crust -- definitely NOT previously part of the surface cycle.  Motor fuels essentially introduce previously buried carbon into the surface cycle. So comparing livestock to vehicle emissions is somewhat misleading when it comes to their effect on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a concept that the authors of this article -- and all others of its ilk -- seem reluctant to mention.

Secondly, carbon in the surface cycle can only be in one of four places, in the air, in the ground as organic matter, dissolved in water, or in the tissues of living organisms.  (Carbon that gets locked up in, say, limestone essentially leaves the surface cycle until the limestone is exposed and weathered.)  The only way to fundamentally alter the proportion of carbon in each of these repositories -- read "reduce greenhouse gases" -- is to push the carbon from one to the other of these sectors.  In particular, reducing the number of livestock can only make a difference in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere if there is a corresponding increase in carbon stored in other life forms or in organic matter in the soil.  (I'll leave aside organic matter dissolved in water, which is largely out of human control.)

About the only way that humans can increase the biomass locked up in plants is to allow forests to regrow.  But there's a problem here.  Most of the vegetable material eaten by humans is either from annual plants or from fruit and nut trees.  By far the largest amount is from annual plants -- corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, soybeans, garden vegetables, etc.  Enormous tracts of land have been "cleared" -- that is, trees have been removed -- to provide land for growing these food crops.  And therein lies the true dilemma: insofar as agricultural practices are concerned, producing edible plant foods implies fewer trees; reducing greenhouse gases implies more trees.

I could go on.  Not all land is suitable for crop production, whereas it serves adequately well for livestock grazing, for example.  But before everyone gets bored with my diatribe, I'd rather mention one further point made in the article -- "red meat consumption is clearly linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes."  Another canard!  And one that I suspect is the crux of the author's views on this topic.  I hope you followed the link to the study that "clearly linked" red meat consumption with obesity.  I'll just point out that the researchers were curiously disinterested in, for example, total food consumption or carbohydrate consumption while they were investigating red meat consumption.  I leave it to you to decide whether these factors might also be relevant.

rjs's picture
rjs
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 8 2009
Posts: 445
Helix wrote on meat production

 

Helix wrote:

First, let me state that I agree with the authors of the article "What The U.S. Can Learn From China’s New Diet Restrictions" that Americans -- and people in the developed world generally -- could reap health benefits by reducing their meat intake.

Having said that, I am truly wearied by the old canard about meat production and greenhouse gas emissions being "more than all the world’s vehicles combined."  First, this simply doesn't jive with the most recent figures I have -- from 2014 -- which showed agriculture being responsible for 9% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation was responsible for 26% of these emissions.

Beyond that, there are so many fallacies hidden in this statement that it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll just focus on the most obvious ones -- obvious but unmentioned.

First, all carbon emissions from livestock are already part of the "surface cycle."  That is, the carbon released into the air by the livestock was obtained from plants.  Those plants, in turn, obtained that carbon from the atmosphere in the form of CO2 by plant respiration.  It's a cycle.

Motor vehicles, on the other hand, burn gasoline or diesel fuel.  These fuels are obtained from petroleum extracted from deposits in the earth's crust -- definitely NOT previously part of the surface cycle.  Motor fuels essentially introduce previously buried carbon into the surface cycle. So comparing livestock to vehicle emissions is somewhat misleading when it comes to their effect on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a concept that the authors of this article -- and all others of its ilk -- seem reluctant to mention.

Secondly, carbon in the surface cycle can only be in one of four places, in the air, in the ground as organic matter, dissolved in water, or in the tissues of living organisms.  (Carbon that gets locked up in, say, limestone essentially leaves the surface cycle until the limestone is exposed and weathered.)  The only way to fundamentally alter the proportion of carbon in each of these repositories -- read "reduce greenhouse gases" -- is to push the carbon from one to the other of these sectors.  In particular, reducing the number of livestock can only make a difference in the amount of carbon in the atmosphere if there is a corresponding increase in carbon stored in other life forms or in organic matter in the soil.  (I'll leave aside organic matter dissolved in water, which is largely out of human control.)

About the only way that humans can increase the biomass locked up in plants is to allow forests to regrow.  But there's a problem here.  Most of the vegetable material eaten by humans is either from annual plants or from fruit and nut trees.  By far the largest amount is from annual plants -- corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, soybeans, garden vegetables, etc.  Enormous tracts of land have been "cleared" -- that is, trees have been removed -- to provide land for growing these food crops.  And therein lies the true dilemma: insofar as agricultural practices are concerned, producing edible plant foods implies fewer trees; reducing greenhouse gases implies more trees.

I could go on.  Not all land is suitable for crop production, whereas it serves adequately well for livestock grazing, for example.  But before everyone gets bored with my diatribe, I'd rather mention one further point made in the article -- "red meat consumption is clearly linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes."  Another canard!  And one that I suspect is the crux of the author's views on this topic.  I hope you followed the link to the study that "clearly linked" red meat consumption with obesity.  I'll just point out that the researchers were curiously disinterested in, for example, total food consumption or carbohydrate consumption while they were investigating red meat consumption.  I leave it to you to decide whether these factors might also be relevant.

excellent points, all....to the last paragraph i'd add that an ounce of red meat only has half the calories of an ounce of potato chips, & i'll bet more who are suffering from diabetes, obesity and heart disease are seeing the effects of snack foods than the effects of meat in their diet...

Weogo's picture
Weogo
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 6 2015
Posts: 47
fossil fuels and agriculture

Hi Helix,

Your post appears to be missing the amount of fossil fuels that go in to tractors, processing, refrigeration, transportation, Nitrogen fertilizer, and more.

The 14.5% number for food-related greenhouse gases is fairly accurate.
Check UN-FAO for good numbers.

Reducing meat consumption means eating more plants.
While a pound of protein from plants does take less fossil fuels to get to table, they still take some.
If the planet as a whole cut meat consumption in half we could possibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 5%.

A good read on climate change and agriculture, that covers the fossil fuel side of things:
http://cultivatingresilience.com/
(I'm married to the author.)

The quality of meat and how it is stored and prepared can have a significant effect on health benefits or problems.
CAFO vs. pasture-based is a big consideration for both environmental and human health.

In some parts of the world, for the poorest of the poor, eating MORE meat can be a good thing.
Check out the work of these folks:
http://www.heifer.org/

This thread, moderated by climate scientist Mark Cochrane, has a wealth of good information:
http://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/definitive-global-climate-change-aka...

Thanks and good health, Weogo

 

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