Thursday, December 10, 2009

Impôt de Carbone

While England is considering a personal cap-and-trade system, France just passed a national carbon tax. It is set at 17 euro per metric tonne, or $22.60 per normally spelled ton, which is fairly similar to the $20/t that's bandied about a lot in the US. "The tax will be introduced next year and will cover the use of oil, gas and coal," but not electricity, because 80% of Frances power comes from nuclear power plants.

There's always talk that the tax is more efficient than trading permits, but this one still gets complicated: it will apply to households as well as enterprises, but not to the heavy industries and power firms included in the EU's emissions trading scheme. (Okay, I guess that's because there's already a trading system in place that it has to operate with in parallel.)

"Critics say it is just a ploy to boost ailing state finances," but French President Sarkozy claims that all money gathered will be re-issued in the form of income tax refunds and other reductions, so that a "typical" household will see no change in finances.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'll have ham — hold the pig.

Fat Knowledge has written about PETA's competition to grow lab meat that doesn't use animals. Well, there has been some serious progress now. As reported in the Sphere, scientists in the Netherlands have used cells from a live pig to grow pork muscle tissue in a Petri dish. This fixes the usual vegetarian's ethical issue, plus a bonus on sustainability because the meat can be grown more efficiently in a lab than on an animal. Unfortunately, they don't know if it hold up to bacon or ribs, since
the scientists had to admit to reporters that they don't know if their creation is flavorsome, because laboratory regulations forbid them from tasting anything they create.
So who knows if it's just going to taste like spam from a lab, or if it will be a revolution in gastronomy.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Zero-G Water Experiments

Aboard the International Space Station, you can do some crazy things with water droplets.