David Roberts: “Coal is the enemy of the human race, mainstream economics edition“
Once you strip away the econ jargon, the paper finds that, on the margin, electricity from coal imposes more damages on the U.S. economy than the electricity is worth. That’s right: The next coal-fired power plant is a net value-subtraction. A parasite, you might say, that will enrich a few executives and shareholders at the public’s expense.
If you’re of a wonky bent, it’s worth digging in. The authors try to establish a framework for integrating air-pollution costs into national accounts — that is, a systematic way of accounting for those “externalities” you’re always hearing about — and come up with something called gross external damages (GED). They calculate GED for several common industries and find that not only coal power, but “solid waste combustion, sewage treatment, stone quarrying, [and] marinas” have air-pollution externalities that exceed their total value added.
But coal power is a parasite in a class by itself, with a GED equal to the combined totals of its three closest competitors. In fact, coal plants “are responsible for more than one-fourth of GED from the entire U.S. economy” — roughly $53 billion in damages a year.
Maggie Koerth-Baker: “The only good abortion is my abortion“
I am making a decision.
The only thing that makes my abortion decision different from anyone else’s abortion decision is that some people who are against abortion will think that my abortion is acceptable.
Some. Not all. Maybe not even most. I honestly have no idea. My life is not in danger, after all. I have not been raped. I merely think that I might not want to sit around, feeling the symptoms of pregnancy, for god knows how long, until a heartbeat stops and the ripping pain kicks in and the blood starts flowing on its own.
Let me be clear. I have options. It’s just that they all suck. That’s kind of how bad news related to pregnancy works.
… There is no universal good option. There is no universal bad option. But for each individual there is an option that is the least bad. Here is why I am pro-choice. If someone has to make a decision and the best they can hope for is the least-bad option, I don’t believe I have any business making that choice for them.
My abortion is not a good abortion. It’s just an abortion. And there’s no reason to treat the decision I have to make any differently than the decisions made by any other woman.
Dahlia Lithwick: “A Bill Seeking to Regulate Use of the Word Vagina“
The scourge of women being allowed to speak the word vagina in a legislative debate over what happens when women use their vaginas must be stopped. And if women are not capable of regulating their own word choice, the state should regulate it for them. To that end, we propose that the Michigan House promptly enact HB-5711(b) — a bill to regulate the use of the word vagina by females in mixed company.
The bill will include Part A(1)(a) providing that any women who seeks to use the word vagina in a floor debate be required to wait 72 hours after consulting with her physician before she may say it. It will also require her physician to certify in writing that said woman was not improperly coerced into saying the word vagina against her will. Section B(1)(d) provides that prior to allowing a female to say the word vagina a woman will have a mandatory visit with her physician at which he will read to her a scripted warning detailing the scientific evidence of the well-documented medical dangers inherent in saying the word vagina out loud, including the link between saying the word vagina and the risk of contracting breast cancer.
… There is to be no exception in the event that a woman uses the word vagina as a result of rape, incest, or to preserve her health or ability to have future pregnancies. If women were intended to use the word vagina there would be a word for vaginas.