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Major report warns that a "meat tax" is coming
After tobacco, carbon, and sugar, meat may be next on the list to be taxed by governments in their efforts to comply with health and environmental policies.
After tobacco, carbon, and sugar, meat may be next on the list to be taxed by governments in their efforts to comply with health and environmental policies. Тhis is what a recent report published by the FAIRR initiative argues.
Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return (FAIRR) is an initiative that informs and advises investors about the risks and opportunities related to the industrial livestock production sector. FAIRR’s most recent report The Livestock Levy, which was published in December, forewarns investors that meat may be due for a tax in the next five to ten years, just like sugar and tobacco.
Taxing goods that are considered unhealthy or dangerous for the environment is an attractive revenue stream for governments. In recent years, meat has entered the list of goods that may be harmful to society.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization, has classified processed meat as a Group1 carcinogen, the same group as tobacco and asbestos. Red meat was classified as Group2A: “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
As a result, many countries have started modifying their official food recommendation guidelines switching their focus from meat and dairy to plants. Belgium’s 2017 food pyramid shows processed meat in the junk food category—alongside candy, sugar and fries—as foods that “are not necessary for a balanced diet and can even damage your health.”
Belgium's food pyramid. The top says 'Drink mostly water'. The green circle says 'more' and the yellow circle says 'less'. The red section says 'as little as possible' and is for foods that are "not necessary for a balanced diet and can even damage your health."
The Chinese Dietary Guideline, which was last updated in 2016, recommends that Chinese people reduce their consumption of meat to 1.4-2.6 oz a day. If the recommendation is followed, it would reduce the meat consumption per person from 139 lbs to 31-60 lbs per year.
But while there is still room for a scientific debate regarding the health risks of consuming meat, there is none left when it comes to the harm that industrial livestock production causes to the environment.
The FAIRR report points out that meat consumption has risen 500% between 1992 and 2016, and the upward trend is likely to continue. This would put an even further strain on the global livestock industry, which is already implicated in producing more greenhouse gas emissions than the transport sector, increasing levels of antibiotic resistance, soil degradation, deforestation and being a threat to global food security and water availability.
FAIRR estimates that the health and environmental costs for the global economy caused by meat production could result in as much as $1.6 trillion by 2050.
Jeremy Coller, the founder of FAIRR and the chief investment officer at the private equity firm Coller Capital says:
“If policymakers are to cover the true cost of human epidemics like obesity, diabetes and cancer, and livestock epidemics like avian flu, while also tackling the twin challenges of climate change and antibiotic resistance, then a shift from subsidisation to taxation of the meat industry looks inevitable. Far-sighted investors should plan ahead for this day.”
Indeed, policymakers in countries like Denmark, Sweden and Germany have already put taxing meat on their agendas, even though no concrete legislation plans have been put in place. However, it is exactly in the Nordic countries that the first carbon tax was introduced in 1990.
So, the question remains whether or not taxing meat will be an effective enough measure.
Today more than 180 countries tax tobacco, more than 60 jurisdictions tax carbon emissions, and at least 25 tax sugar.
According to Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health, the special tax on sugary drinks that was imposed in 2014 has resulted in lowering per capita consumption of those beverages by 6% in 2014, 8% in 2015 and 11% in the first half of 2016.
According to a study by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, taxes of 40% on beef, 20% on dairy products and 8.5% on chicken would save half a million lives a year and reduce climate warming emissions.
The World Health Organization considers taxing tobacco, for example, as a win-win policy for governments that “creates the fiscal space to finance development programmes while, at the same time, reduces tobacco use.”
There are more ripple effects to taxation that could prove beneficial. For example, steering investor money away from the meat production industry to companies that produce more sustainable forms of protein like Beyond Meat can lead to accelerated innovations.
Bloomberg reports that FAIRR’s sustainable protein engagement plan, currently supported by 57 investors with $2.3 trillion under management, plans to ask 16 major food multinationals this year to “future proof” their supply chains by diversifying their protein sources.
Maria Lettini, director of FAIRR, concludes:
“On the current pathway we may well see some form of meat tax emerge within five to 10 years. There are huge opportunities in the market. If we can start replacing meat protein with plant-based protein that has the same look, taste and feel as meat, where real red-blooded meat eaters are happy to dig into a burger that is plant-based, we are changing the world.”
Here, epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant explains the dangerous trend of developing nations' increasing taste and growing budget for meat consumption, and the impact it has on disease epidemics.
What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.
- Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
- The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
- The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Jet bursting out of a blazar. Black-hole-powered galaxies called blazars are the most common sources detected by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
Cosmic death beams: Understanding gamma ray bursts<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="cu2knVEk" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="c6cfd20fdf31c82cb206ade8ce21ba3f"> <div id="botr_cu2knVEk_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/cu2knVEk-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/cu2knVEk-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
- A team of physicists carried out experiments to determine the precise value of the fine-structure constant.
- This pure number describes the strength of the electromagnetic forces between elementary particles.
- The scientists improved the accuracy of this measurement by 2.5 times.
The process for measuring the fine-structure constant involved a beam of light from a laser that caused an atom to recoil. The red and blue colors indicate the light wave's peaks and troughs, respectively.
Scientists at Washington University are patenting a new electrolyzer designed for frigid Martian water.
- Mars explorers will need more oxygen and hydrogen than they can carry to the Red Planet.
- Martian water may be able to provide these elements, but it is extremely salty water.
- The new method can pull oxygen and hydrogen for breathing and fuel from Martian brine.