Health

The Obesity Pandemic

It’s a global phenomenon, with poorly understood causes. But there’s no point in blaming the victims.

I’ve written in the past about the American obesity epidemic. Obesity rates have continued to climb in the United States, though the rate of increase has leveled out. But obesity is also on the rise globally. The obesity rate has increased everywhere. In nine countries, at least one out of five people is now obese: …

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Does Ideology Kill?

Interpreting the association between conservatism and COVID death rates.

There is mounting evidence of an association between conservative politics and COVID impacts. Indeed, the higher death rate among Republicans may even have swung some close elections. A recent study sheds light on how ideology and death rates interact. As the Washington Post reports, the results were striking:  “Covid death rates were 11 percent higher …

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Keep on Trucking

A new rule will clean up exhaust from new diesels, a major health threat.

Last week, EPA finalized its new rule imposing emission limits on new heavy trucks. The new regulation was clearly a massive undertaking. EPA’s formal announcement of the new rule is 1100 pages long. The accompanying summary of comments on the proposed rule and EPA’s responses is another 2000 pages. This is partly due to the …

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Not The Winds Of Change We Wanted

Bombay’s recent air quality crisis shows us our future

For several years, India’s capital of Delhi has been synonymous with awful air quality: just living there is the equivalent of smoking nearly 2,000 cigarettes a year. So it shocked me when the Indian Express reported that last week, Bombay’s air was even worse than Delhi’s. Delhi’s AQI last week was an abysmal 263; but …

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Pollution Control as Climate Policy

Tightening air quality standards will also reduce carbon emissions.

The Biden Administration is slowly grinding away at an important regulatory task: reconsidering the air quality standards for particulates and ozone.  Setting those standards is an arduous and time-consuming process, requiring consideration of reams of technical data. For instance, a preliminary staff report on fine particulates (PM2.5) is over 600 pages long. When the process …

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Frank G. Wells Clinic Faculty File Amicus Brief on Behalf of Law Professors in California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley

Supporting Berkeley’s ability to decide where utility infrastructure may be built

This week, as part of the Frank G. Wells Clinic in Environmental Law, Cara Horowitz, Julia Stein, and I filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of seven law professors in the Ninth Circuit case California Restaurant Association v. City of Berkeley, in which the California Restaurant Association (CRA), an industry association, is challenging a …

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When Agencies Fail  

Lives can be lost when agencies fall down on the job.

What happens when agencies fail in their jobs? People can die. The most dramatic example is the opioid crisis, in which a whole series of state and federal agencies fell short.  The result has been hundreds of thousands of deaths. The FDA was one of the prime culprits. It bought into a myth, carefully cultivated …

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Is the ‘Vaccine Mandate’ Legal?

Despite all the political huffing and puffing, Biden’s order has a solid legal basis.

Incensed critics are calling Biden’s proposed “vaccine mandate” an outrageous usurpation of power. They need to take a deep breath. It’s not really a vaccine mandate, the only statutory issue is procedural, and there’s no constitutional problem. Calling Biden’s order a vaccine mandate is misleading. It could just as well be considered a testing mandate …

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Vaccination, Enlightenment Values, and the Founders

Anti-vaxxers and climate deniers are abandoning America’s founding values.

Ironically, those who most trumpet their allegiance to the Founders often have least in common with their values. The Founding Fathers were men of the Enlightenment. They shared a belief that reason, free inquiry, and science would better the human condition. They looked to reason as a guide. They sought, in Jefferson’s words, to expunge …

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The Opioid Epidemic and Vaccine Hesitancy

The places hit hardest by opioids are often skeptical of vaccines. That’s probably not a coincidence.

The opioid crisis was the product of corporate greed run amok and a corrupted regulatory process. That crisis may have amplified deep distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and its government watchdogs — distrust that may now be reflected in vaccine skepticism. First, a little history. The manufacturer, Purdue Pharma,  aggressively promoted the use of oxycontin, …

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