Thursday, June 21, 2012


We propose a new approach — which we call 'wedging the gap' — consisting of 21 coherent major initiatives that together would trigger greenhouse-gas emission reductions of around 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Gt CO2e) by 2020, plus the benefits of enhanced reductions in air-pollutant emissions. This supports and goes substantially beyond the emission reductions proposed by national governments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The approach would play a significant part in bridging the gap between current emission trends and what is necessary to put the world on a path that would limit global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. The proposed initiatives build on actions that promise numerous benefits to the organizations and individuals undertaking them, and front-runners are already demonstrating that such benefits are real. These initiatives aim to take these benefits to the mainstream, drastically amplifying their impacts and showing all organizations involved that together they can play a leading role in solving the climate challenge. Many of the initiatives also generate significant 'green growth' benefits, stimulating economic development based on environmentally sound solutions and providing additional motivation to engage. We expect that working together on a grand coalition would serve as a catalyst for action, greatly enhancing the willingness of a range of sub-sovereign and non-state actors to contribute to greenhouse-gas emission reductions. This in turn would support the implementation and strengthening of the pledges for which national governments remain responsible, and eventually stimulate sufficient reductions to bridge the greenhouse-gas emissions gap.


The basis of the wedging-the-gap approach is to combine 21 coherent major global initiatives that involve a variety of actors, for example, major cities, large companies and individual citizens (Fig. 1). For each of the initiatives the following requirements hold: (1) there is a concrete starting position from which a significant up-scaling until the year 2020 is possible; (2) there are significant additional benefits next to a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions; (3) there is an organization (or a combination of organizations) that can lead the global initiative; and (4) the initiative has the potential to reach an emission reduction in the order of 0.5 Gt CO2e by 2020. The effects of the initiatives and other government actions will overlap, so the total effect will be smaller than the sum. Regarding requirements (2) and (3), the key is that actors in the initiative are driven by self-interest or internal motivation, not by external pressure — a green-growth approach to global action on climate change.

Figure 1: Wedging the gap.

Figure 1. A schematic representation of how the emissions gap is bridged by a combination of action by national governments under the UNFCCC (a) and other initiatives (wedges) (b). The effect of the different wedges overlap. The wedges and the government pledges overlap as well. The asterisks in b indicate that quantification is outside of the definition of the gap.

Why will this work? Action by an individual citizen, a municipality or even a large multinational company may be considered 'a drop in the ocean'. Even individual actions by large companies or big cities will rarely have an impact of more than a few megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. However, being part of a larger coalition that has the potential to completely bridge the entire emissions gap will make it much more attractive to participate in and take action. To this end, it is necessary that globally leading organizations in the world of business, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participate. They need to be part of a coalition that together provides leadership in bridging the gap. Therefore, the key to the success of the wedging-the-gap approach is forming and sustaining this coalition.

Emission-reduction pledges of countries under the UNFCCC and 'bottom up' initiatives by players other than national governments reinforce each other. Both have the objective to eventually bridge the emissions gap, but from two different angles. Ultimately, the objective is to close this gap, and both sides are essential. Emission-reduction pledges of governments under the UNFCCC are not sufficient to close the gap, and their ambition has not changed for 2.5 years. While recognizing that national governments remain responsible for implementing and increasing the ambition of their pledges and actions, a new coalition of scaled-up 'bottom up' initiatives driven by sub-sovereign and non-state actors and motivated by interests additional to emission reductions could give new momentum to international action on climate change. The successes of the coalition of initiatives have to be fed back into the UNFCCC process and have to have an impact on national government pledges. Otherwise national governments may feel released from the pressure to implement and strengthen their pledge, as they could rely on the success of action elsewhere.

Dahlia Lithwick offers a modest proposal to eliminate the word “vagina” from our political discourse (h/t Sourav):
Republican Rep. Mike Callton noted later that Brown’s comment “was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company."

The scourge of women being allowed to speak the word vagina in a legislative debate over what happens when women use their vaginas must be stopped. And if women are not capable of regulating their own word choice, the state should regulate it for them. To that end, we propose that the Michigan House promptly enact HB-5711(b)—a bill to regulate the use of the word vagina by females in mixed company.

The bill will include Part A(1)(a) providing that any women who seeks to use the word vagina in a floor debate be required to wait 72 hours after consulting with her physician before she may say it. It will also require her physician to certify in writing that said woman was not improperly coerced into saying the word vagina against her will. Section B(1)(d) provides that prior to allowing a female to say the word vagina a woman will have a mandatory visit with her physician at which he will read to her a scripted warning detailing the scientific evidence of the well-documented medical dangers inherent in saying the word vagina out loud, including the link between saying the word vagina and the risk of contracting breast cancer.

Because some women who say the word vagina in legislative proceedings occasionally come to regret having used the word, Part C(7) provides that there will also be mandatory counseling with counselors who have never used the word vagina in their lifetimes, and who would indeed die before they ever used such a word. Moreover the state health code is to be amended such that no woman who says the word vagina may do so out loud or in mixed company until and unless she is in a facility with full surgical capabilities. Objections that speech is not in fact a surgical procedure notwithstanding, it’s clear that the risk of saying the word vagina out loud is such that it should not be undertaken without proper medical safeguards to guarantee against any and all risks of negative consequences.

There is to be no exception in the event that a woman uses the word vagina as a result of rape, incest, or to preserve her health or ability to have future pregnancies. If women were intended to use the word vagina there would be a word for vaginas.

Also, provision d(9)(a) of the bill would amend the current law to ensure that if any listener who hears the word vagina spoken aloud—although it may be the medically correct term for a woman’s reproductive organs—feels any religious objections to such speech, that speech may be curtailed in the interest of preserving the listener’s religious freedom as detailed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any other marginally relevant provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are herein rescinded as needed.

Finally, Michigan state health statutes shall be amended by provision 12(b)(6) which provides that prior to speaking the word vagina out loud, any female resident of Michigan shall undergo a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure, during which she must watch such ultrasound while listening to a government-scripted speech about the grave dangers of speaking anatomically correct words, aloud, in an enlightened democracy.

JPMorgan Chase is screwing over the American taxpayer — and the global economy — and laughing all the way to the bank while doing so:
To be precise, JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy.

How can all this be? Let’s take it step by step.

In recent decades, governments and central banks around the world have developed a consistent pattern of behavior when trouble strikes banks that are large or interconnected enough to threaten the broader economy: They step in to ensure that all the bank’s creditors, not just depositors, are paid in full. Although typically necessary to prevent permanent economic damage, such bailouts encourage a reckless confidence among creditors. They assume the government will always make them whole, so they become willing to lend at lower rates, particularly to systemically important banks.

With each new banking crisis, the value of the implicit subsidy grows. In a recent paper, two economists -- Kenichi Ueda of the IMF and Beatrice Weder Di Mauro of the University of Mainz -- estimated that as of 2009 the expectation of government support was shaving about 0.8 percentage point off large banks’ borrowing costs. That’s up from 0.6 percentage point in 2007, before the financial crisis prompted a global round of bank bailouts.

To estimate the dollar value of the subsidy in the U.S., we multiplied it by the debt and deposits of 18 of the country’s largest banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The result: about $76 billion a year. The number is roughly equivalent to the banks’ total profits over the past 12 months, or more than the federal government spends every year on education.

JPMorgan’s share of the subsidy is $14 billion a year, or about 77 percent of its net income for the past four quarters. In other words, U.S. taxpayers helped foot the bill for the multibillion-dollar trading loss that is the focus of today’s hearing. They’ve also provided more direct support: Dimon noted in a recent conference call that the Home Affordable Refinancing Program, which allows banks to generate income by modifying government-guaranteed mortgages, made a significant contribution to JPMorgan’s earnings in the first three months of 2012.

Like all subsidies, the taxpayer largesse distorts supply. If the government supports corn farmers, you get too much corn. If the government subsidizes banks, you get too much credit. As of March, households, companies and government in the U.S. had amassed debts of $38.6 trillion, or 2.5 times the country’s gross domestic product. That’s up from 1.3 times in 1980. The picture is similar in the euro area, where debt outstanding is 1.8 times GDP, double the level of 1995.

The oversupply of credit -- also supported in the U.S. by government-backed lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and by tax breaks on mortgage interest -- encourages risky behavior. People buy houses they can’t afford, companies borrow too much for acquisitions, and banks employ excessive leverage to boost the returns they can offer their shareholders. The result is a bloated finance industry: As of 2011, the sector accounted for 8.3 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 4.9 percent in 1980.

The Dems move to the right by taking Republican ideas, and Repubs respond by moving even farther to the right and labeling the Dems as socialists:
The Republicans have made the individual mandate the element most likely to undo the President’s health-care law. The irony is that the Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought that it would help them secure conservative support. It had, after all, been at the heart of Republican health-care reforms for two decades.

The mandate made its political début in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” as a counterpoint to the single-payer system and the employer mandate, which were favored in Democratic circles. In the brief, Stuart Butler, the foundation’s health-care expert, argued, “Many states now require passengers in automobiles to wear seat-belts for their own protection. Many others require anybody driving a car to have liability insurance. But neither the federal government nor any state requires all households to protect themselves from the potentially catastrophic costs of a serious accident or illness. Under the Heritage plan, there would be such a requirement.” The mandate made its first legislative appearance in 1993, in the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act—the Republicans’ alternative to President Clinton’s health-reform bill—which was sponsored by John Chafee, of Rhode Island, and co-sponsored by eighteen Republicans, including Bob Dole, who was then the Senate Minority Leader.

After the Clinton bill, which called for an employer mandate, failed, Democrats came to recognize the opportunity that the Chafee bill had presented. In “The System,” David Broder and Haynes Johnson’s history of the health-care wars of the nineties, Bill Clinton concedes that it was the best chance he had of reaching a bipartisan compromise. “It should have been right then, or the day after they presented their bill, where I should have tried to have a direct understanding with Dole,” he said.

Ten years later, Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, began picking his way back through the history—he read “The System” four times—and he, too, came to focus on the Chafee bill. He began building a proposal around the individual mandate, and tested it out on both Democrats and Republicans. “Between 2004 and 2008, I saw over eighty members of the Senate, and there were very few who objected,” Wyden says. In December, 2006, he unveiled the Healthy Americans Act. In May, 2007, Bob Bennett, a Utah Republican, who had been a sponsor of the Chafee bill, joined him. Wyden-Bennett was eventually co-sponsored by eleven Republicans and nine Democrats, receiving more bipartisan support than any universal health-care proposal in the history of the Senate. It even caught the eye of the Republican Presidential aspirants. In a June, 2009, interview on “Meet the Press,” Mitt Romney, who, as governor of Massachusetts, had signed a universal health-care bill with an individual mandate, said that Wyden-Bennett was a plan “that a number of Republicans think is a very good health-care plan—one that we support.”

Wyden’s bill was part of a broader trend of Democrats endorsing the individual mandate in their own proposals. John Edwards and Hillary Clinton both built a mandate into their campaign health-care proposals. In 2008, Senator Ted Kennedy brought John McDonough, a liberal advocate of the Massachusetts plan, to Washington to help with health-care reform. That same year, Max Baucus, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, included an individual mandate in the first draft of his health-care bill. The main Democratic holdout was Senator Barack Obama. But by July, 2009, President Obama had changed his mind. “I was opposed to this idea because my general attitude was the reason people don’t have health insurance is not because they don’t want it. It’s because they can’t afford it,” he told CBS News. “I am now in favor of some sort of individual mandate.”

This process led, eventually, to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—which also included an individual mandate. But, as that bill came closer to passing, Republicans began coalescing around the mandate, which polling showed to be one of the legislation’s least popular elements. In December, 2009, in a vote on the bill, every Senate Republican voted to call the individual mandate “unconstitutional.”

This shift—Democrats lining up behind the Republican-crafted mandate, and Republicans declaring it not just inappropriate policy but contrary to the wishes of the Founders—shocked Wyden. “I would characterize the Washington, D.C., relationship with the individual mandate as truly schizophrenic,” he said.

It was not an isolated case. In 2007, both Newt Gingrich and John McCain wanted a cap-and-trade program in order to reduce carbon emissions. Today, neither they nor any other leading Republicans support cap-and-trade. In 2008, the Bush Administration proposed, pushed, and signed the Economic Stimulus Act, a deficit-financed tax cut designed to boost the flagging economy. Today, few Republicans admit that a deficit-financed stimulus can work. Indeed, with the exception of raising taxes on the rich, virtually every major policy currently associated with the Obama Administration was, within the past decade, a Republican idea in good standing.
Klein goes on to discuss something that's come up here before (see Jack Balkin's piece I posted in the last link dump) — how the constitutional argument against the individual mandate went from batshit crazy fringe argument to batshit crazy mainstream Republican argument, and explain why this portends a future of even greater partisan squabbling and polarization:
What is notable about the conservative response to the individual mandate is not only the speed with which a legal argument that was considered fringe in 2010 had become mainstream by 2012; it’s the implication that the Republicans spent two decades pushing legislation that was in clear violation of the nation’s founding document. Political parties do go through occasional, painful cleansings, in which they emerge with different leaders who hold different positions. This was true of Democrats in the nineteen-nineties, when Bill Clinton passed free trade, deficit reduction, and welfare reform, despite the furious objections of liberals. But in this case the mandate’s supporters simply became its opponents.

In February, 2012, Stuart Butler, the author of the Heritage Foundation brief that first proposed the mandate, wrote an op-ed for USA Today in which he recanted that support. “I’ve altered my views on many things,” he wrote. “The individual mandate in health care is one of them.” Senator Orrin Hatch, who had been a co-sponsor of the Chafee bill, emerged as one of the mandate’s most implacable opponents in 2010, writing in The Hill that to come to “any other conclusion” than that the mandate is unconstitutional “requires treating the Constitution as the servant, rather than the master, of Congress.” Mitt Romney, who had both passed an individual mandate as governor and supported Wyden-Bennett, now calls Obama’s law an “unconstitutional power grab from the states,” and has promised, if elected, to begin repealing the law “on Day One.”

Even Bob Bennett, who was among the most eloquent advocates of the mandate, voted, in 2009, to call it unconstitutional. “I’d group us”—Senate Republicans—“into three categories,” he says. “There were people like me, who bought onto the mandate because it made sense and would work, and we were reluctant to let go of it. Then, there were people who bought onto it slowly, for political advantage, and were immediately willing to abandon it as soon as the political advantage went the other way. And then there’s a third group that thought it made sense and then thought it through and changed their minds.” Explaining his decision to vote against the law, Bennett, who was facing a Tea Party challenger in a primary, says, “I didn’t focus on the particulars of the amendment as closely as I should have, and probably would have voted the other way if I had understood that the individual mandate was at its core. I just wanted to express my opposition to the Obama proposal at every opportunity.” He was defeated in the primary, anyway.

But, whatever the motives of individual politicians, the end result was the same: a policy that once enjoyed broad support within the Republican Party suddenly faced unified opposition—opposition that was echoed, refined, and popularized by other institutions affiliated with the Party. This is what Jason Grumet, the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a group that tried to encourage Republicans and Democrats to unite around policy solutions, calls the “think-tank industrial complex”—the network of ideologically oriented research centers that drive much of the policy debate in Washington. As Senator Olympia Snowe, of Maine, who has announced that she is leaving the Senate because of the noxious political climate, says, “You can find a think tank to buttress any view or position, and then you can give it the aura of legitimacy and credibility by referring to their report.” And, as we’re increasingly able to choose our information sources based on their tendency to back up whatever we already believe, we don’t even have to hear the arguments from the other side, much less give them serious consideration. Partisans who may not have strong opinions on the underlying issues thus get a clear signal on what their party wants them to think, along with reams of information on why they should think it.
On a related note: how broccoli became part of the health care debate.

On the manifold idiocies associated with trying to run the University of Virginia in line with the latest fad in management consulting. Strategic dynamism is bunk when applied to academia:
I shall have to ignore a series of complications in that demand in order to discuss my larger point. The first complication is the idea that at a university founded by Thomas Jefferson–a man deeply in love with Greek and Latin–members of its Board would consider the classics obscure. The second complication is the idea that members of UVA’s board would find obscure the study of the language of the dominant economic power of Europe, one that is for better or worse (mostly for worse) running the European response to the Great Recession. The third complication is that UVA may, in fact, be required to study both of those subjects by state law and thus pressing the President to cut them seems incitement to a crime of some sort (misdemeanor or felony, I wonder?). The fourth complication is that both disciplines are remarkably cost-efficient. You don’t need lots of expensive heavy machinery, labs, equipment, or supplies to teach either. Instead, you need cheap labor (even tenured faculty are cheap by private standards; we won’t even get into the appallingly low costs of contingent faculty), and some modest infrastructure. Classics at UVA almost certainly makes a profit (based on the number of majors in this story) and German probably does as well.

But, no, I’m skipping over them, complications though they are. They obscure in this instance the purpose of higher education. That purpose is the creation, preservation, and transmission of knowledge, both for the current generation and future ones. This is not merely for current or prospective students, but for American (and even global) society in general. These lofty ambitions are frequently met more in the breach than the observance, and academia has all sorts of corruptions and problems unique to itself, but they nonetheless exist. One of the fundamental parts of that responsibility is actively to study, save, and talk about the obscure, the lost, the unpopular, and the unfashionable. In fact, in many ways that is the most important responsibility. Famous, popular, and fashionable knowledge tends to preserve itself, at least in the short term. Marginalized knowledge disappears. If classics was truly obscure, that would be all the more reason for the University of Virginia to study it. There are, of course, all sort of limits on this, but the fundamental point remains. Cutting things simply because they are obscure, lost, unpopular, and unfashionable, the heart of the market’s discipline, cuts out the core of the scholarly discipline. If business and academia function exactly as they should, especially if they function exactly as they should, they are antithetical to each other. The American secular religion may be business and its temple Wall Street, but scholars and their institutions should avoid genuflecting. There are few universities in the United States with more such responsibility than one birthed by a founding father.
Siva Vaidhyanathan has more on the silliness of strategic dynamism in academia (h/t Srijan):
I have spent the past five years immersed in corporate new-age management talk. For my recent book, The Googlization of Everything—and Why We Should Worry, I immersed myself in the rhetoric of Silicon Valley and the finance culture that supports it. I subjected myself to reading such buzzword-dependent publications as Fast Company. So I had heard about “strategic dynamism” before. I can’t say that I understand it fully. But if my university is going to be governed by a mysterious buzzphrase, I had better try.

Strategic dynamism, or, as it is more commonly called, “strategic dynamics,” seems to be a method of continually altering one's short-term targets and resource allocation depending on relative changes in environment, the costs of inputs, and the price you can charge for outputs. In management it means using dynamic graphs to track goals and outcomes over time, and having the ways and the will to shift resources to satisfy general goals via many consecutive short-term targets. Most management textbooks offer equations one may use to dynamically chart and execute strategy. And for all I know it makes a lot of sense.

Consider sailing, which one might do if one is a hedge fund billionaire from Connecticut. In sailing one sets a general course to a distant target but tacks and shifts depending on the particular environmental changes. I understand why “dynamic” is better than “static.” Who wants a static sailboat? But is a university, teeming with research, young people, ideas, arguments, poems, preachers, and way too much Adderall ever in danger of being static?

The inappropriateness of applying concepts designed for firms and sailboats to a massive and contemplative institution as a university should be clear to anyone who does not run a hedge fund or make too much money. To execute anything like strategic dynamism, one must be able to order people to do things, make quick decisions from the top down, and have a constant view of a wide array of variables. It helps if you understand what counts as an input and an output. Universities have multiple inputs and uncountable and unpredictable outputs. And that’s how we like them.
Kieran Healy chimes in with Thomas Jefferson's masterwork re-written for our new era of strategic dynamism.

A better way to deal with the tricky issue of gender-testing and athletics — should an athlete's self-identification be enough?:
We agree that sports need clear rules, but we also believe that the rules should be fair and as rational as possible. The new policy, if it is based on testosterone levels, is neither.

So what is a better solution?

First, at the very least, female athletes should be allowed to compete throughout any investigation. Suspending them from competition once questions are raised violates their confidentiality and imposes sanctions before relevant information has been gathered.

Second, when it comes to sex, sports authorities should acknowledge that while science can offer evidence, it cannot dictate what evidence we should use. Scientifically, there is no clear or objective way to draw a bright line between male and female.

Testosterone is one of the most slippery markers that sports authorities have come up with yet. Yes, average testosterone levels are markedly different for men and women. But levels vary widely depending on time of day, time of life, social status and — crucially — one’s history of athletic training. Moreover, cellular responses range so widely that testosterone level alone is meaningless.

Testosterone is not the master molecule of athleticism. One glaring clue is that women whose tissues do not respond to testosterone at all are actually overrepresented among elite athletes.

As counterintuitive as it might seem, there is no evidence that successful athletes have higher testosterone levels than less successful ones.

Yes, doping with testosterone will most likely improve your performance by increasing muscle size, strength and endurance. But you cannot predict how well athletes will do in a competition by knowing their relative testosterone levels. There is just too much variation in how bodies make and respond to testosterone — and testosterone is but one element of an athlete’s physiology.

Third, if we want a clear answer to who is eligible for women’s competitions, it is time to stop pawning this fundamentally social question off onto scientists.

Bruce Kidd, a former Olympian who is a professor of kinesiology and physical education at the University of Toronto, favors prioritizing athletes’ rights to bodily integrity, privacy and self-identification, and promoting broad inclusiveness. “If the proclaimed human right of self-expression is to mean anything, surely it should protect the right to name one’s own gender,” he says.

We agree. At present, though, because most nations do not offer their citizens the right of self-defining gender, the best bet might be to let all legally recognized women compete. Period.

Fourth, any policies must be developed through a transparent process with broad input. A major problem with the I.O.C.’s effort to create a new policy is its opaqueness. Which types of expertise and evidence were drawn on? What issues were considered?

Finally, the I.O.C. and other sports governing bodies should denounce gender bashing among athletes, coaches, the news media and fans. Policing women’s testosterone would exacerbate one of the ugliest tendencies in women’s sports today: the name-calling and the insinuations that an athlete is “too masculine,” or worse, that she is a man. (Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia recently said that she lost at the French Open because her opponent “played like a man.” Such comments do not do female athletes any favors.)

Sex testing of female athletes will always be discriminatory. Under the new policy, men will most likely continue to enjoy freedom from scrutiny, even though they, too, have greatly varying testosterone levels, along with other variations in natural attributes that affect athletic performance.

Sex tests are based on the notion that fair competition requires “protecting” female athletes. Protection has been the cloak that covers all manner of sex discrimination, and it is seldom, if ever, the best way to advance equality.

What are these tests protecting women from? Men infiltrating women’s competitions? A century of monitoring competitions for sex fraud says no. Will superwomen crowd out other athletes? No again. Women who have been ensnared by sex-testing dragnets have often been impressive, but not out of line with other elite female athletes.

What about letting go of the idea that the ultimate goal of a fair policy is to protect the “purity” of women’s competitions? If the goal is instead to group athletes so that everyone has a chance to play, to excel and — yes — to win, then sex-segregated competition is just one of many possible options, and in many cases it might not be the best one.

Rigidly protecting the principle of sex segregation sometimes undermines female athletes, as with the recent rule that women’s marathon records cannot be set in races that include men; the rule could have eliminated Paula Radcliffe’s best time, in 2003, which beat the record by three minutes.

Sex segregation may obscure other gender inequities in sports. Men, for example, have 40 more events in the Olympics and have longer distances and durations — with no clear rationale.

Sex segregation is probably a good idea in some sports, at some levels and at some moments. But it is time to refocus policy discussions at every level so that sex segregation is one means to achieve fairness, not the ultimate goal. Ensuring gender equity through access to opportunity is just as important.

Unlike in doping cases, women with hyperandrogenism have not cheated. There is no reason to disqualify women whose bodies produce any of the complex ingredients that add up to athleticism, be they superb vision, big lungs, flexibility, long legs or testosterone.

The obsessive focus on sex has done enough harm. María José Martínez-Patiño, whose hurdling career was derailed by sex testing, said a new policy based on testosterone levels would further the “decades-long persecution of women in sports.” As she told us, “It’s enough.”
More on sex and the Olympics here. And a new study on sexist and racist tropes trotted out in televised Olympic coverage here.

Land grabs are not benign foreign direct investment.

The dark side of “green grabs”.

Walking and biking are un-American. Real Americans drive, drive, drive, so the House GOP is opposed to anything but subsidizing automobile transport.

Action at the global level may be lacking, but a number of major cities are working seriously to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The editor in chief of Conservation Biology wanted authors to keep blatant advocacy out of the research articles published in the journal. She subsequently lost her job.

[T]he regime metaphor as a means of understanding, critiquing, and enabling efforts at social transformation.”

What drives climate change-related emissions, population or affluence? Yes.

Potential links between pollution and obesity, as mediated by epigenetics.

And similarly, evidence of toxic exposures and epigenetic changes.
Human decisionmaking and the environments of cities.

Clean coal means earthquakes? No, thanks. How about renewables instead?

Renewables may be doing better than was previously reported.

The impacts of climate change-induced depleted snowpack on hydropower.

The era of Big Dams in the West may be over, so now it's on to Big Pipeline.

How much water is in your hamburger?

The impending death of the Salton Sea.

Disputes regarding environmental protection lead, on average, to more than a death per week globallyTime's environment blog has more.

Americans are embracing planning. Well, it depends.

North Carolina choosing to willfully ignore climate change helps no one.

Depleting global fish stocks.

A ban of fishing discards could lead the way to sustainable fisheries in Europe.

Acidifying oceans mean more anemones.

Kudos to PLoS for turning an eye to Big Food.

EWG on the pesticides in your food.

Tom Philpott discusses the EWG report — and makes the much-needed point that workers' chemical exposures are sadly overlooked.

The UCS on the myths perpetuated by biotech on GMOs.

A new report in Nature suggests GM crops like Bt corn do, in fact, reduce pesticide use.

Even Mother Jones is willing to defend Bt corn.

The Economist on planetary boundaries.

And on the melting Arctic.

Testing a new approach to fire management.

The connections between climate change and wildfires. (This 60 Minutes piece, from about five years ago, was one of the better treatments of climate change, human actions, and wildfire I can recall coming across.)

Western Australia's forest collapse.

Researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Centre respond to some of the recent critiques of their work.

The EPA says meeting its new soot standard will be easy.

And the new soot standard has serious benefits for human health.

A first step: financial institutions recognize that natural capital has value.
Everyone's embracing natural capital.

The boondoggle of crop insurance.

Indirect subsidies for Big Pollution.

A French experiment in redesigning the bus stop.

Falcons are good for New Zealand's wine.

My friend Doug Mack gets interviewed in the WaPo.

And he wraps up his recent media appearances and give a plug for Poop Strong here.

An incredibly brave, powerful, and brutally honest look at one woman's decision to undergo an abortion, published in Boing Boing of all places.

The War On Women reaches dizzying heights of cruelty as the GOP stakes out a seemingly pro-rape stance. If you're not willing to help women who've been raped and actively working against measures to provide such women with help, you're functionally pro-rape.

The value of post-cancer rehab.

More and more radiation via diagnostic testing.

The importance of making clear your end-of-life choices before the end of life.

Private prisons by the numbers.

The unabashed cruelty and malice of Jim Crow redux: meet Alabama's Juan Crow.

The courageous and unstoppable DREAMers.

Those who stood, those who fell: fatal cases of Stand Your Ground in Florida.

David Simon on Baltimore crime statistics.

What exactly is executive privilege?: A primer.

Assessing the Obama administrations claims on drone deaths.

And in graphic form.

TNC on how conservative bigots always play the victim. And more.

Mocking Thomas Friedman.

Global language diversity dies a bit every couple of weeks.

Sequencing the human microbiome.

Don't be hating on parasites.

The unscientific myth of evil salt.

On the potential problems and pitfalls of Big Data.

Internet usage of depressive people is different.

A pretty picture of the Arctic before the sea ice all disappears.

On fair use, reproduction, and re-contextualization in art.

Pretty pictures of NYC.

Some pretty crazy photos of the flooding in Duluth. (h/t BBlo)

An absolutely fantastic cover of Neil Young's “Heart of Gold” by the Polyphonic Spree:

Heather's Happy Link of the Day: an interview with indie-rock greatest (only?) hype man, the beloved Bob Nastanovich on horse racing, the Silver Jews, and Pavement.

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