I’m contemplating becoming a “demitarian”. That’s neither a strict vegetarian nor a full-on carnivore. The reason is the first Europe-wide assessment of the effect of nitrogen on human health and the environment, which has calculated that nitrogen pollution costs each European citizen between £130 and £650 per year.
Nitrogen oxide pollution from car exhausts also shortens the lives of Europeans by six months on average, by producing ozone and particles that aggravate respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Produced by 200 experts from 21 countries, the European Nitrogen Assessment calculates that the cost of damage from nitrogen in Europe totals between £60 billion and £280 billion (about $497 billion).
Considering we’re still having stuff times even for people with jobs, the best reason to switch to a mostly non-meat diet is that it is easier on your budget and better for your health in the long run. Though as a way to decrease the total amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere, a few people making dietary changes to cut atmospheric nitrogen might not be the best motivator. One of the things that would make a sizable contribution and would also cut the use of fossil fuels is recovering nitrogen from landfills. According to GE ( yes the same GE that did not pay any taxes for 2010) landfills or municipal waste creates quite a lot of recoverable and reusable gases( pdf),
Municipal waste contains about 150 to 250 kg of organic carbon
per ton. These substances are biologically degradable and are
converted by microorganisms into landfill gas in the absence of air.
Stable, anaerobic methane fermentation begins one to two years
after the waste is deposited in the landfill. If the landfill gas is collected
constantly and in a controlled fashion, the following average
values are achieved after the gas collection process has been properly
Methane (CH4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . approximately 40 – 50% by volume
Carbon dioxide (CO2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . approximately 35 – 45% by volume
Nitrogen from air (N2) . . . . . . . . . . . . approximately 5 – 15% by volume
Oxygen from air (O2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . approximately 1 – 3% by volume
Recovered nitrogen can be used again to fertilize the plants the demitarians eat. In a land that used to brag about its ingenuity and forward vision, where is the great idea, the great invention to extract the billions of dollars worth of valuable metals, gases and glass ( a form of silicon) and other materials in our landfills.
Having secured “draconian” cuts in a last-minute budget deal last week, House Republicans are hyping House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) new “Path to Prosperity” plan. The proposal professes to reform programs like Medicare and Medicaid to rein in spending by $6.2 trillion over the next decade. But as the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein notes, Ryan’s Medicare and Medicaid plans “rely on the same bait-and-switch: They use a reform to disguise a cut.” By making Medicare a voucher program and Medicaid a block grant program with $750 billion less in funding, Ryan’s plan forces seniors to pay more for the same benefits, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, and jeopardizes vital health care services for millions of low-income Americans.
These on going debates over the federal budget and related issues such as medicare and military spending may seem boring, but they are a great lessons in both sociology and the art of magic. Medicare and Medicaid are the only thing standing between life and death for many Americans. Judging by the GDP of the U.S. we have the wealth to fiance those programs. Yet, we’re not discussing in the main how to shift resources to provide the most good for the vast majority of the people. By way of some clever misdirection we’re discussing how to take money away from people who can least afford it. These people who are driving up in their 7-series Bimmers to collect their welfare checks and buy caviar with their food stamps just has to stop – if it wasn’t for these freeloaders there would be no problem balancing the budget ( I have tons of anecdotal stories I got from the intertubes which proves this is true beyond the shadow of a doubt. That is the way anecdotal evidence works). Do not look behind the curtain, the problem cannot be the national fetish for redistributing a disproportionate amount of the nations’ wealth to people who make the smallest contributions to having a civilized society.