The price of plenty: how beef changed America

The long read: Exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US beef industry and created the model for modern agribusiness The meatpacking mogul Jonathan Ogden Armour could not abide socialist agitators. It was 1906, and Upton Sinclair had just published The Jungle, an explosive novel revealing the grim underside of the American meatpacking industry. Sinclairs book told the tale of an immigrant familys toil in Chicagos slaughterhouses, tracing the familys physical, financial and emotional collapse. The Jungle was not Armours only concern. The year before, the journalist Charles Edward Russells book The Greatest Trust in the World had detailed the greed and exploitation of a packing industry that came to the American dining table three times a day …

Jared Harris: My wife can’t believe how I keep getting bumped off!

From Mad Men to The Crown, the actor is used to big exits. As new disaster drama Chernobyl launches, he talks about cover-ups, climate change shame and his hellraising dad Richard Jared Harris says that if only he had played Lane Pryce as he was meant to, he would have probably lasted the duration of The Crown was inevitably done for by a coronary thrombosis. In his latest TV drama, The Terror, about the Royal Navys treacherous 19th-century trip into the unknown, are three of the great contemporary TV dramas. And Chernobyl looks like its going to be another. A tense, beautifully written five-parter about Greta Thunberg has addressed EU politicians in Brussels. Its awful that its being left to …

US farmers count cost of catastrophic ‘bomb cyclone’ in midwest

With grain stores ruined and many fields still under water from last months extreme weather, producers are facing devastating losses Five weeks after historic flooding in the midwest, waters still cover pasturelands, corn and soybean fields. Much of the water has receded, but rivers still run high and washed out roads force people to take long detours. Residents in Missouri are putting their ruined possessions on the street and corn stalks heaped by floodwaters look like snowdrifts in the fields. In March, more than 450,000 hectares (1.1m acres) of cropland and 34,000 hectares of pastureland flooded, according to record-breaking cold in January and unprecedented snow in February. Huge blocks of loose ice jammed waterways, and the Climate models predict more …

Hand dryers v paper towels: the surprisingly dirty fight for the right to dry your hands

The long read: For a century, the humble paper towel has dominated public toilets. But a new generation of hand dryers has sparked a war for loo supremacy In the summer of 2005, a Chicago marketing consultant named George Campbell received a tantalising call from a headhunter. Was he open to an interview at Dyson? The company was secretively preparing to launch a new appliance, and it needed a sales strategy for the US: that was all the headhunter would divulge. Campbell was excited; he saw Dyson as a company with the iconic quality of Apple, and an ability to take a basic product like a vacuum cleaner and make an 80% margin on it. He went along to Dysons …

Brexit: Irish backstop could undermine EU standards, report says

Study for German Green party says backstop could let UK flout EU green and social standards It is a dastardly trap, designed to lock freedom-loving Britain into the European Unions protectionist customs union: that is the argument against the so-called backstop, cited by hardline Brexit advocates as the main reason why they have thrice voted down Theresa Mays deal with the European Union. But as the dust settles after months of chaos in Westminster, suspicions are growing on the other side of the Channel that the backstop could in fact be the very opposite: a brilliant deception device constructed by crack UK negotiators, which would allow a more reckless British prime minister to undermine the EUs green and social standards …

Greta Thunberg teaches us about autism as much as climate change | Ian Birrell

Too many people with conditions such as autism still face cruel treatment, says Ian Birrell Greta Thunberg is an impressive individual. Just 16 years old, she has been she told Nick Robinson when interviewed on Radio 4s Today programme. It makes me see things from outside the box. I dont easily fall for lies, I can see through things. If I wouldve been like everyone else, I wouldnt have started this school strike for instance. She admitted her passion was partly down to viewing the world in stark terms. The result of her simplistic approach, fuelled by her condition, is that she has presented this issue with more clarity and competence than almost any adult activist or politician in recent …

Trump issues Earth Day message without mentioning climate change

President praised the benefits of a strong market economy but did not echo warnings from scientists on rising temperatures Donald Trump issued on Monday an Earth Day proclamation that omitted any mention of climate change or the cavalcade of environmental threats posed by deforestation, species loss and plastic pollution. The president chose instead to praise the benefits of a strong market economy. In response, one leading climate scientist said Trumps environmental policy was in many cases the antithesis of protection. The executive director of the Sierra Club said Trump was the worst president for the environment our nation has ever had. praised the abundant beauty and life-sustaining bounty of the American environment but did not echo growing warnings from scientists …

We must ensure US public lands stay public, or risk demolition of society | Kate Aronoff

A lawyer and longtime energy lobbyist, the new interior secretary, David Bernhardt, has one goal in mind: handing as much land as possible to corporations Who are Americas public lands for? The answer to that question might seem self-evident: the public. The newly confirmed interior secretary, David Bernhardt officially charged with stewarding them has a different interpretation. A lawyer and longtime energy lobbyist, he has ecstatic when he took over as ousted secretary Ryan Zinkes second-in-command. Dan Naatz, the political director of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, assured a gathering of 100 oil executives in June 2017 that we know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal …

Deadly appetite: 10 animals we are eating into extinction

From eel and sturgeon to pangolin and turtle, hundreds of species are threatened by human hunger or greed. Here are some of the most at risk If there is a single dish that has come to symbolise humans willingness to eat other animals out of existence, it is the ortolan bunting. Traditionally, you devour this diminutive songbird, prized since Roman times, whole, in one fell bite, your head hidden under a napkin to hide your shame from God (although, drowned in armagnac and deep-fried, this delicacy is also just plain messy). In France, where hunting ortolans has been banned since 1999, 30,000 birds are still trapped every year, according to the RSPB; they are said to fetch up to 150 …

Dirty lies: how the car industry hid the truth about diesel emissions

The long read: The Dieselgate scandal was suppressed for years while we should have been driving electric cars John German had not been looking to make a splash when he commissioned an examination of pollution from diesel cars back in 2013. The exam compared what came out of their exhaust pipes, during the lab tests that were required by law, with emissions on the road under real driving conditions. German and his colleagues at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in the US just wanted to tie up the last loose ends in a big report, and thought the research would give them something positive to say about diesel. They might even be able to offer tips to Europe …

How Americas food giants swallowed the family farms

Across the midwest, the rise of factory farming is destroying rural communities. And the massive corporations behind this devastation are now eyeing a post-Brexit UK market When the vast expanse of rural Iowa was carved up for settlers in the 19th century, it was often divided into 160-acre lots. Four farms made a square mile, with a crisscross of dead-straight roads marking the boundaries like a sprawling chess board. Within each square, generations of families tended pigs and cattle, grew oats and raised children, with the sons most likely to take over the farm. That is how Barb Kalbach saw the future when she left her familys land to marry and begin farming with her new husband, Jim, 47 years …