The Delta smelt is going extinct. The adorable translucent fish don’t grow much larger than a finger, but their privileged status as an endangered species puts them at the center of a huge debate over federalism.Read More
The last time Baylen Linnekin joined the show, he had recently helped American farmers secure a major Supreme Court win in the case of Horne v. USDA, in which a raisin farmer Melvin Horne fought back against the federal government’s takings of a portion of his crops for the "National Raisin Reserve". This was a victory to all those cherish "the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, share, cook, eat, and drink the foods of their own choosing." But the fight for our food freedoms is far from over, as Baylen documents in his new book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable (Island Press). As it stands, agencies like the USDA and FDA often enact absurd rules that make our food supply no safer, while limiting options and contributing to mountains of food that Americans already waste each year. Case in point: rules constraining the sale of “ugly” fruits and vegetables in supermarkets. Furthermore, many regulations hinder small, sustainable farms, but are no hurdle for Big Agriculture, which swallows up billions in subsidies only to produce surpluses of crops that end up in landfills due to other bad policies. Baylen returns to the show to argue that while some rules are necessary and beneficial, we must be pickier when it comes to our food laws.
Reading recent headlines, one might start to think the world is unraveling at its seams. But dig beneath the surface of attention-grabbing press, and a different picture emerges. Consider a few surprising truths the media rarely reports: The cancer "epidemic" only appears as such because of longer lifespans. As countries get wealthier, they are able to afford a cleaner environment. GMOs have saved billions of lives. All three of these facts run counter to the doomsday narratives, so loved by sensationalist media and environmental-activists-in-scientists'-clothing alike. Award-winning Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey has made it his mission to look honestly at the ecological impact of civilization, and correct the dire predictions of environmentalists which consistently fail to materialize. Bailey joined Bob for the full hour to discuss his new book, "The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century."
Shortly after its founding in 2003, The Breakthrough Institute helped forge a “BlueGreen Alliance” between labor unions and environmentalists to modernize America’s clean energy infrastructure. While this may sound like yet another instance of special interests profiting under the guise of environmental ethics, Breakthrough’s agenda in fact offers a refreshing alternative to the usual talking points about energy and the environment. More importantly, their scholars are fiercely independent. They have heralded “The Death of Environmentalism” (at least conceived of as a movement to limit growth of industry), and when nuclear power and natural gas are found to be cheaper than solar energy, Breakthrough Institute scholars don't hesitate to say so. Alex Trembath, a senior energy analyst at The Breakthrough Institute, has done much of the research into fracking and clean energy that undergirds their positions, and he joins Bob in studio to defend a nuanced technocratic approach to energy and climate. Do we really need government to invest in the next generation of clean energy infrastructure, or should we leave it up to the market?