Day: April 7, 2010

Five More Reasons to Lay Off the Seafood

Last week, we covered the first five reasons to lay off the seafood: 1) Predator loss disrupts the food web, 2) current fishing practices reduce biodiversity, 3) industrial fishing is cruel, 4) seafood has a high carbon footprint and 5) seafood contains toxins. These reasons focused on the environmental impacts of conventional seafood harvests. This week I’d like to share five more reasons to rethink your seafood choices, focusing on the economics of the fishing industry. 6. Ocean exploitation creates intergenerational inequity. It is likely that future generations will inherit a barren ocean (see last week’s essay). Most of the world’s stocks are overfished or have already crashed, and scientists are concerned about the additional pressures that climate change, ocean acidification and rising sea temperatures will place on fish stocks. What does continued overfishing mean for future generations? We are not sure, but it doesn’t look good. 7. Industrial fishing displaces local fisherman.The absence of a central government in Somalia since 1991 has left its people and resources vulnerable. According to a December 2008 article in The Economist, European fleets have taken advantage of this situation by aggressively overfishing Somali waters, robbing local fisherman of their livelihoods. Subsistence fishing was the only option for many of these local people, who live in a poor and war-torn country with few opportunities. How did Somalis react? Some turned to piracy. 8....

Read More

Trash or Treasure?

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or so the saying goes. Waste-to-Energy technology takes many people’s trash and makes it into usable energy, at the same time reducing landfill carbon footprints. As the United States pursues carbon legislation and alternative energy sources, what role will trash have? Waste-to-Energy is a technology that burns municipal solid waste to generate electricity and can provide heat for buildings or industrial processes.  Instead of dumping garbage into a landfill, the waste is taken to a WTE plant where it is used as fuel for making steam and generating electricity. This process reduces the final volume of the trash it burns by 90 percent and simultaneously reduces the carbon footprint of the landfill by converting methane to carbon dioxide. These advantages have made WTE technology attractive to many cities, including Austin. The City of Austin already has a history with Waste-to-Energy that dates back 30 years. In the early 1980s, city staff and outside consultants projected that a WTE plant would have lower tipping fees than a landfill.  In 1984, Austin voters approved a bond to build a $71 million WTE facility in southeast Austin.  A design firm was hired, a site selected, and $20 million worth of design and purchasing of equipment was performed.  In the meantime, environmental and environmental justice groups protested the city’s decision, energy prices dropped, and the project...

Read More

Reforming the Immigration Policy of a Nation of Immigrants

Since its inception, the United States of America has been a nation of immigrants where people from all over the world have sought opportunity and a more promising future for the next generation.  Unfortunately, the U.S. immigration system has been broken for over two decades. Successive presidential administrations and Congress have failed to enact policies which consider the importance of transnational migration as a result of increasing global economic interdependence and integration. Reforming the U.S. immigration system has become such a polarizing issue that politicians in both parties refuse to address the problem.  As a result, for President Obama to fulfill his campaign promise to Hispanic voters to reform immigration, he will have to reframe the debate over immigration and debunk popular myths during public and private negotiations. In 2005, when the Bush Administration was unable to ratify the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, nativist movements nationwide reacted by demanding that their local government enact and enforce immigration laws.  Their fears are fueled by mainstream media, whose news opinion shows oversimplify the complexity of immigration and portray immigrants as job thieves, drunkards, rapists, drug dealers and law breakers. Changing immigration laws requires a balancing act of differing interest groups, but President Obama’s greatest opposition will come from nativist groups.  These groups fear and do not understand the effects of globalization and demographic changes in America.  To counter their arguments, the...

Read More

Quick Jump