Environment Forum

from Adam Pasick:

Crunching the numbers on a vegan in a Hummer

Photo by Kris Krüg

(Updated below with Michael Pollan's response)

You want some petroleum with that Big Mac?

Journalist and food writer Michael Pollan broke down the hidden cost of America's best-known burger on Saturday to an eager audience at the Poptech conference. He traced the Big Mac's origins all the way back to the oil fields, used to make fertilizer that is crucial to the corn grown for cows in massive feeds lots.

“Our meat eating is one of the most important contributors we make to climate change," said Pollan, who is best known for his book "The Omnivore's Dilemma."

"A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius.”

It's a great line and quite a mental image, one that wowed the audience and quickly spread on Twitter. Too bad it's not true.

Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin of the University of Chicago published a 2005 paper in the journal Earth Interactions that looked at the relative carbon footprints of plant-based and red-meat diets.

from Raw Japan:

Mercedes? No thanks, I’ll take a hybrid

VOLKSWAGEN-LAW/“I hope the next three months will be better for you than the last three," Czech ambassador Jaromir Novotny told a gathering of Japanese car importers last month.

The way things are going, he'll be hoping against hope.

In April, Japan introduced an “eco-car” tax incentive that has left all foreign car brands such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, neatly outside the fence of eligibility.

It’s the last thing they need in a market that’s already full of quirks that make life difficult for non-Japanese car brands: the existence of a huge and unique 660cc microcar segment, convoluted recycling laws and stringent regulations against what type of materials can be used in fuel tanks, to name just a few.

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