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Friday Finds: Meatless Mondays Go Mainstream

Ag industry takes beef with Americans eating less meat
Americans are eating less meat, which means the U.S. obsession with double-bacon cheeseburgers and chicken-fried sandwiches may one day be a thing of the past, reports Grist. According to the USDA, beef, chicken and pork sales are all down, prompting the meat industry to accuse the U.S. government of being anti-meat by “wag[ing] a war on protein.” This claim, though meaty, is full of holes considering that the U.S. gives the agriculture industry a number of economic freebies to support meat consumption in the form of farm subsidies, lax regulations and school lunch programs fueled by surplus chicken supplies. The real reasons that Americans aren’t eating as much meat are much more multi-faceted and include everything from cutting grocery bill costs and eating healthier to preserving the environment by lessoning carbon footprints. What’s your beef with that?    

Olympic athletes race against London’s air quality
London’s habitually bad air quality may negatively affect Olympic athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer, reports The Independent. Since the European Union’s limits for particulate matter—extremely small particles of smoke, soot, metals and other chemical compounds emitted from sources like power plants, factories, and diesel trucks—were first put in place a few years back, London has continually exceeded its limits, potentially putting people at risk of negative human health affects like lung and heart disease. Athletes, especially, are at risk due to their need to inhale large amounts of oxygen, which unfortunately also means inhaling unsafe quantities of particulates, nitrogen dioxide and ozone that could give them chest pains and decrease their lung capacity. Though the city has introduced long-term air quality improvement measures in London, currently there is no short term plan to clear the air before July, when the Olympic games begin.

Nemo fish get drunk off carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide has been blamed for a lot of things—climate change, ocean acidification, sea level rise—but the latest victim of CO2’s increasing levels is the clownfish, reports New Scientist. According to Australian researchers, exposing reef fish like clownfish—think Nemo of Finding Nemo fame—to abnormally high levels of CO2 leads to risky behavior like seeking out scents they would normally avoid, such as those of their predators. It’s the equivalent of a drunk guy deciding that it's a good idea to tease his roommate’s pet cobra, except that the fish can’t help getting “drunk” off of CO2. In addition to the effects on clownfish, the researchers also found that exposing juvenile damselfish to high levels of CO2 “destroyed their natural tendency to turn left or right in certain situations,” which keeps them from minimizing danger from predators by swimming alongside a school of fish. Though the researchers only looked at two kinds of fish, the studies suggest that entire populations of water-breathing animals like fish and crustaceans could be negatively impacted from a CO2-filled water world.

NYC plans to double recycling efforts
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to clean up the NYC’s dirty image with a new plan to double its recycling efforts by 2017, reports the New York Times. Currently, NYC only recycles about 15 percent of its waste, an amount that's just plain embarrassing when you consider the recycling rates of othe major cities like San Francisco (77 percent) and even Chicago with its famously bad Blue Bag program (46 percent). Each year, New Yorkers send about three million tons of solid waste to out-of-state landfills by truck or rail. To reduce both the cost and amount of waste, Mayor Bloomberg’s plan will expand plastics recycling and increase the number of recycle bins in public places from 600 to 1,000 by 2014. The recycling initiative is part of a larger effort by Bloomberg to green Gotham City, which has also included such ideas as citywide tree plantings and green building technology promotion. Let’s just hope that the Mayor’s recycling plan doesn’t go the way of the NYC plastic bag tax, which was bagged shortly after it was introduced

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