John Tierney joins Brian Anderson to discuss the campaign to ban the use of plastic products and the flawed logic behind the recycling movement—the subjects of Tierney’s story, "The Perverse Panic over Plastic," from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal.
Hundreds of cities and eight states have outlawed or regulated single-use plastic bags. But according to Tierney, the plastic panic doesn't make sense. Plastic bags are the best environmental choice at the supermarket, not the worst, and cities that built expensive recycling programs—in the hopes of turning a profit on recycled products—have instead paid extra to get rid of their plastic waste, mostly by shipping it to Asian countries with low labor costs. However, the bans will likely continue as political leaders and private companies seek a renewed sense of moral superiority.
Christopher Rufo joins Brian Anderson to discuss drug addiction and homelessness in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Skid Row, the subject of Rufo's story from the Winter 2020 Issue of City Journal, "The Moral Crisis of Skid Row."
"They call Los Angeles the City of Angels," writes Rufo, "but it seems that even here, within the five-by-ten-block area of Skid Row, the city contains an entire cosmology—angels and demons, sinners and saints, plagues and treatments." To address the growing public-health crisis, progressive activists and political leaders have relied on two major policies: "harm reduction" and "housing first." But despite nearly $1 billion in new spending, more people are on the streets than ever—and the crime and addiction are getting worse.
Catesby Leigh joins Seth Barron to discuss President Trump's draft executive order to give priority to classical-style architecture in the design of federal courthouses, agency headquarters, and other federal office buildings.
The classical style has inspired the most revered and popular buildings in the country—the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and the Supreme Court. But as Leigh reports, new federal rules after World War II enabled modernist styles of design, such as Brutalism and Deconstructivism, to set the tone for federal architecture. If adopted, the Trump administration's order would designate the classical and other traditional architectural styles as "preferred" for all federal buildings.
Mark Mills joins Brian Anderson to discuss the enormous energy demands of the world's modern information infrastructure—"the Cloud"—the subject of his new book, Digital Cathedrals.
"Tech companies confront an inconvenient fact," writes Mills. "The global cloud uses more energy than is produced by all the planet's wind and solar farms combined." In fact, digital traffic has become the fastest-growing source of energy use. While nearly every tech company has pledged to transition to renewable energy sources, most data centers are physically connected to the conventional power grid, fueled by hydrocarbons. The modern economy won't be exclusively powered by renewables any time soon.