Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Ethanol in the New Yorker

James Surowiecki gets on the ethanol-debate wagon. He’s not so much talking about “is ethanol good, is it bad.” He’s more interested in the absurdities of the interlinked lobbying interests of the corn and sugar industries, and how protecting domestic sugar production has the perverse effect of cementing corn’s role as the raw material for ethanol in the U.S.–even though it’s a totally second rate raw material for making ethanol. I recently was thinking about sugar as well. Import restrictions cause the price of sugar to be extra high in the U.S. (Surowiecki says the price of sugar in the U.S. is more than twice the world average). Sugar is generally accepted to be terribly unhealthy, certainly at the quantities eaten by the average American. So maybe if the government stopped protecting the domestic sugar industry, the price of sugar in the U.S. would go down, and Americans would eat even more sugar–with a result of even more obesity and related ill health. These health problems are expensive to take care of. So maybe, ironically, by helping a few sugar daddies get very rich through quotas and subsidies (costing American consumers millions of dollars), these policies help keep Americans just a little healthier than they otherwise would be (saving Americans millions of dollars). Is it a wash? Is it actually good policy, so that the savings from avoided healthcare costs outweigh the losses to sugar inflation? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.


Using Permaculture Principles to Design Resilient Cities

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures.Author Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our needs […] Read More

Overshoot, Collapse, and Creating a Better Future

In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day happened on August 8—the day when we’ve exhausted the planet’s resources for the year, and are essentially borrowing from future years to maintain our existence today.Perhaps you celebrated this day with a counter-solution: a vegetarian meal, telecommuted, or turned off the air conditioning. There’s a lot more you could be […] Read More

Save Energy & Money This Winter: Seal Up Your Drafty House

Unless you’ve taken special preventative precautions, it’s likely that on cold days much of your house’s heat pours out through your (closed) windows. Most houses—especially old houses—have drafty, uninsulated windows that do little to prevent heat from dumping out into the cold night. Even if your windows aren’t drafty, the expensive heat your furnace has […] Read More

Q&A With Toby Hemenway: Taking Permaculture Beyond the Garden Gate

The Permaculture City begins in the garden but takes what we have learned there and applies it to a much broader range of human experience; we’re not just gardening plants but people, neighborhoods, and even cultures.Author Toby Hemenway (Gaia’s Garden) lays out how permaculture design can help towndwellers solve the challenges of meeting our needs […] Read More

The Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial Collapse?

Could it be that the ongoing Greek collapse is a symptom of the more general collapse that the Limits to Growth model generates for the first two decades of the 21st century? Author Ugo Bardi (Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet) examines the correlation between what is unfolding between Greece […] Read More
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