Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Negotiated rulemaking and the greening of car emissions

This Economist article on the cleaning of car emissions seems like a very successful example of negotiated rulemaking between government and industry.  
Cars the world over will become appreciably cleaner in the coming years. The European Union is the strictest master. Under its “Euro 6” standards, due to come into force next year, diesel cars’ NOX emissions will have to be 84% below the limits set when it started regulating them in 2000, and their soot output must be 96% below the initial limits set in 1992. Earlier this year Beijing, in response to an episode of appalling air pollution, introduced new limits similar to the current EU ones, which it plans to tighten further in 2016.
The EU is also leading the way in cutting CO2 emissions, ahead of Japan, China and America. Carmakers know full well that they will have to keep investing heavily in low-carbon technology. Average CO2 emissions are due to come down from 130g per km now to 95g per km in 2020, and plans are already being drawn up for even tougher limits in 2025, of perhaps 70g.  

Cosmetics as an idiot tax

Just like the lottery, the cosmetics industry is playing on people's dreams, and people are free to waste their money.  I can very happily view fancy cosmetics--and other forms of quackery--as a special, self-administered, voluntary tax on people who don't understand science properly.  
Also from Goldacre's Bad Science.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Detox is a cultural product, not a science

Because it has no scientific meaning, detox is much better understood as a cultural product.  Like the best pseudoscientific inventions, it deliberately blends useful common sense with outlandish, medicalized fantasy.  In some respects, how much you buy into this reflects how self-dramatizing you want to be or, in less damning terms, how much you enjoy ritual in your daily life.  When I go through busy periods of partying drinking, sleep deprivation, and convenience eating, I usually decide--eventually--that I need a bit of rest.  So I have a few nights in, reading at home, and eating more salad than usual.  Models and celebrities, meanwhile, "detox" with Master Cleanse and the Fruit Flush Diet.  
From Ben Goldacre's Bad Science, which is interesting and enjoyable so far.