Modern Farmer on the yogurt industry's waste Savor that Greek yogurt you're eating — a lot of waste went into making it. Justin Elliott explains that to make the popular dairy product, yogurt makers have to create a lot of acidic whey, "a thin, runny waste product that can’t simply be dumped. Not only would that be illegal, but whey decomposition is toxic to the natural environment, robbing oxygen from streams and rivers. That could turn a waterway into what one expert calls a “dead sea,” destroying aquatic life over potentially large areas. Spills of cheese whey, a cousin of Greek yogurt whey, have killed tens of thousands of fish around the country in recent years." Elliot adds: "As the nation’s hunger grows for strained yogurt, which produces more byproduct than traditional varieties, the issue of its acid runoff becomes more pressing."
The Associated Press on Portland's anti-fluoridation proposal Steven DuBois visits the hipster citadel of Portland, Oregon, where residents have rejected a proposal to fluoridate the city's water supply. "Portland's drinking water already contains naturally occurring fluoride, though not at levels considered to be effective at fighting cavities," he notes. "Backers of fluoridation say adding more of it to the water is a safe, effective and affordable way to improve the health of low-income children whose parents don't stress proper nutrition and dental hygiene. Opponents describe fluoride as a chemical that will ruin the city's pristine water supply, and they argue that adding it would violate an individual's right to consent to medication."
The Atlantic Cities on how to handle cargo in American cities "In the grand scheme of urban mobility, it's easy to lose track of commercial freight movement," begins Eric Jaffe in exploring how the freight industry is dealing with America's less-than-ideal infrastructure. "Commuters are the primary source of traffic coming into and out of the city, and parking causes much of the street-to-street congestion within it. Fact is, says transport scholar Genevieve Giuliano of the University of Southern California, it's so easy to forget about freight that metropolitan areas have done so for years — at their own peril. ... Even the new wave of smart growth strategies — with its emphasis on reduced road capacity as well as mixed-use development — has created some unintended complications for commercial movement."
New York on what this summer holds for climate policy Jonathan Chait previews the Obama administration's forthcoming climate agenda — and the series of pitfalls its officials are hoping to avoid. "The biggest piece of President Obama’s second-term agenda is his widely expected plan for the Environmental Protection Agency to issue new carbon regulations for power plants, a move that could bring the United States in line with the greenhouse-gas-reduction goals it agreed to in Copenhagen and open the way for an international treaty to control climate change," Chait writes. "If the administration unveils such a plan, conservatives will undoubtedly challenge its legality. The legal challenge won’t take place for two years, but the two sides are preparing for war already. The field of battle will be the Federal Appeals Court in Washington, D.C."
The New York Times on America's energy import strategy Ian Bremmer and Kenneth A. Hersh map the future of energy markets by way of inspecting how they have guided the course of recent history. "The axiom of 'resource scarcity' has been one of the dominant forces shaping global geopolitics and economics since the end of World War II," the pair write. "Now, thanks to the U.S. oil and gas industry’s technological and entrepreneurial savvy, we have ushered in an era in which “resource abundance” will be the norm. The technology will be used to turn the U.S. into an energy exporter and also unlock hidden reserves in other countries. The resulting surge in supply means that the global energy sector will begin to behave like a more 'normal' market, one in which demand and supply are in better balance and less power is concentrated in the hands of select producers."