Is Locavorism for Rich People Only?

Sustainably produced local food is not accessible by all. In general, only the elite few with the time and material resources to capitalize on such environmental munificence have the time and money to benefit from transparently sustainable farms. As a result, the preconditions are inadvertently established for something that generally tends not to bind diverse communities into a cozy whole, but to fragment them: exclusivity.

Some Good Can Come From Swine Flu

A very common ailment in Korean summers and falls is pinkeye (conjunctivitis), and the problem had been getting much worse in the past two years. My Korean co-author tells me, however, that the H1N1 virus has created a positive externality in Korea.

Unintended Consequences in Tuna Fishing

In the 1980's, fishermen trawling for tuna killed tens of thousands of dolphins each year, scooping them up as "bycatch" in their nets

The Paradox of Road Choice

Two physicists and a computer scientist used Google maps to study traffic in Boston, London, and New York, and found that when people use real-time driving maps to try to pick the fastest routes, traffic slows down.

Fire-Starting Incentives

Two French firefighters admitted to starting brush fires on the island of Corsica on July 8 and July 14. Their motivation: overtime bonus pay of 19 euros for nighttime work (July 8) and 38 euros on July 14, for Bastille Day.

What You Didn't Know About Obama's Fuel-Efficiency Rule

The Obama administration this week unveiled its new proposal to raise fuel efficiency in American cars. Clear as smog, right? Well, Freakonomics Q&A guest Keith Hennessey, a former economics adviser in the Bush White House, has written up a detailed post on the proposal's complications and its likely unintended consequences.

What Do a 19th-Century Brownstone and a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Have in Common?

In a column we wrote a while back about the unintended consequences of well-meaning legislation, we highlighted one of the failures of the Endangered Species Act: in the lag time between when an animal's habitat is announced to be under consideration for the E.S.A. and the protection actually goes into effect, landowners have incentive to prophylactically destroy the habitat.

How Restrictions Come Back to Haunt You

Photo: Library of Congress There is a review of Kat Long‘s The Forbidden Apple in last Sunday’s New York Times. The review describes a number of incidents where efforts to ban or restrict transactions in one market spilled over with negative consequences into a related market. To eliminate drinking on Sundays, New York City restricted […]

Orange Juice, Black Eye

| To ring in the new year, Tropicana rolled out a weird, minimalist, futuristic redesign of its iconic orange juice cartons. Sales immediately plunged 20 percent, and after just two months on the market, Tropicana scotched the redesign. The quick rollback is all but unprecedented. Why did people react so negatively? After all, the design […]

Who Said This, When, and About What?

| “I think we will look back in 10 years’ time and say we should not have done this, but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that that which is true in the 1930’s is true in 2010.” That’s Sen. Byron Dorgan (D.-North Dakota), from a 1999 Times article on […]