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Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Who Pollutes? A Household-Level Database of America’s Greenhouse Gas Footprint
Source: Center for Global Development

This paper describes the creation of a database providing estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) footprints for 6 million US households over the period 2008-2012. The database allows analysis of footprints for 52 types of consumption (e.g. electricity, gasoline, apparel, beef, air travel, etc.) within and across geographic regions as small as individual census tracts.

Potential research applications with respect to carbon pricing and tax policy are discussed. Preliminary analysis reveals:

  • The top 10% of US polluters are responsible for 25% of the country’s GHG footprint. The least-polluting 40% of the population accounts for only 20% of the total. The average GHG footprint of individuals in the top 2% of the income distribution is more than four times that of those in the bottom quintile.
  • The highest GHG footprints are found in America’s suburbs, where relatively inefficient housing and transport converge with higher incomes. Rural areas exhibit moderate GHG footprints. High-density urban areas generally exhibit the lowest GHG footprints, but location-specific results are highly dependent on income.
  • Residents of Republican-held congressional districts have slightly higher average GHG footprints than those in Democratic districts – but the difference is small (21.8 tCO2e/person/year in Republican districts; 20.6 in Democratic). There is little relationship between the strength of a district’s party affiliation and average GHG footprint.
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Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States

October 23, 2014 Comments off

Understanding the Organization, Operation, and Victimization Process of Labor Trafficking in the United States
Source: Urban Institute

This study chronicles the experiences of labor trafficking victims from the point of recruitment for work, their forced labor victimization, their attempts to escape and get help, and their efforts to seek justice through civil or criminal cases. The report finds that legal loopholes and lax enforcement enable labor traffickers to commit crimes against workers in major US industries: agriculture, domestic work, hotels, restaurants, and construction. Interview and case file data detail the ubiquity of trafficking, which occurs both in plain sight and behind lock and key. Detailed recommendations propose next steps for policy and practice.

See also: Lax Enforcement and Legal Loopholes Enable Labor Trafficking Victimization; Broadest look ever at victim experiences in five major US industries

Snack Attack: What Consumers are Reaching for Around the World

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Snack Attack: What Consumers are Reaching for Around the World
Source: Nielsen

Who doesn’t love a good snack?

Always at the ready, those crispy, crunchy, chewy provisions are our comfort food when we’re down, meal replacement when we’re in a hurry, companion when we’re relaxing and party staple when we’re celebrating.

As snack manufacturers look to tailor offerings to deliver snacks that appeal to both the palate and the psyche, knowing what drives a consumer to pick one snack rather than another is vital to stay competitive in the $374 billion worldwide snacking industry.

So what’s the go-to nosh for consumers craving a snack—salty, savory, sweet or spicy? How much are health considerations taken into account when selecting a snack? As the size of category sales and consumer need-states across the worldwide snacking industry vary widely from region to region and country to country, finding growth opportunities requires both a global and local understanding of what consumers say and do—which are not always the same.

Free registration required to access report.

Beverage Industry Pledges to Reduce Americans’ Drink Calories, CRS Insights (October 6, 2014)

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Beverage Industry Pledges to Reduce Americans’ Drink Calories, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Obesity rates in the United States remain high, with roughly two-thirds of adults and one-third of children overweight or obese. The estimated annual health care costs of obesity-related illness are approaching $200 billion, and this has been characterized as the first generation of children who may not outlive their parents.

Congress and the Obama Administration have shown a strong interest in developing policies to address the obesity epidemic. Various legislative, regulatory, and industry initiatives have been proposed, including efforts targeting sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. The term “sugar-sweetened beverages” refers to drinks sweetened with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or other caloric sweeteners. They are considered a source of “empty” calories and have been implicated as a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. Although there is no recommended amount for sugar intake, the World Health Organization proposes that sugars should comprise less than 10% of daily calories. A single 12 ounce can of soda provides up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, and sugary soft drinks account for 6% of daily calorie intake among Americans.

At a recent meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative, leading beverage companies pledged to reduce the number of sugar-sweetened drink calories consumed by Americans by 20% by 2025. Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Snapple, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association are teaming up with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national nonprofit working to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity.

New From the GAO

October 16, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Climate Change: USDA’s Ongoing Efforts Can Be Enhanced with Better Metrics and More Relevant Information for Farmers. GAO-14-755, September 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-755
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/665809.pdf

2. Specialty Metals: DOD Dissemination of National Security Waiver Information Could Enhance Awareness and Compliance with Restrictions. GAO-15-133, October 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-133
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666533.pdf

Global Drivers of Agricultural Demand and Supply

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Global Drivers of Agricultural Demand and Supply
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This report explores the potential for global agricultural production to 2050, using a model-based analysis that incorporates the key drivers of agricultural production: population, per capita income, and changes in agricultural productivity.

Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Characteristics and Production Costs of U.S. Corn Farms, Including Organic, 2010
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This study examines U.S. corn farms in 2010, their production costs and practices, and farm and operator characteristics by various corn producer groups. In addition, corn production in 2010 and 2001 are compared to view the effects of the changing U.S. corn market.

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