January 8, 2006 [LINK]

Amaryllis flower

Amaryllis This stunning scarlet Amaryllis flower grew from a bulb that Jacqueline planted just before Christmas. Now that's fast! The second flower in back bloomed first, about four days ago. It sure is nice that indoor flowering plants brighten up our days and fight "Seasonal Affective Disorder" during these depressing months of scant sunlight.

For the marine life lover in you

The renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium (which I visited in 1987; link via Connie) has a "Seafood Watch" program to encourage healthy living and environmentally conscious shopping. It warns in particular against "farm-raised" shrimp and salmon. The coastal "farms" on which shrimp are raised often destroy precious mangrove trees, and salmon that are raised in extremely crowded "net pens" pollute the water with their feces. In contrast, farm-raised oysters, clams, mussels, tilapia, catfish, and trout are much better for the environment. Most Americans have become aware that improper fishing techniques kill many dolphins, which is why most food manufacturers agreed to market only "dolphin-safe" tuna. During and after the trip Jacqueline and I made to Costa Rica last February, I learned a lot about sea turtles, which often get caught in nets. See my April 14, 2005 post.

More generally, this is a classic case where wise tax policy could promote environmental goals even if many consumers remain apathetic about nature. Instead of hopelessly complex and often unenforceable pollution standards, there should be a uniform Federal gross receipts tax on all business establishments in rough proportion to the pollution that they create. The problem with implementing this, of course, is that it would annoy bargain-conscious American shoppers, who would rather not be burdened with the responsibility for helping the environment. "That's someone else's job -- like the government, or big corporations."