It’s Meatless Monday. Maybe Avoid the Salmon.


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• Your annual reminder that the fishing industry is surprisingly scary.

• A corn-based theory of monoculture.

• New York is beating Texas in carbon-free power, but not for long.

• Japan is not on brand in China anymore.

Salmon Seeking Salvation

Imagine you’re a lil tiny baby salmon swimming along, minding your own business and suddenly you get attacked by a vicious swarm of sea lice, which clamp their jaws on your face until you eventually die and land on a pile of salmon feces that is 32 inches tall.

This is the fate of around 15% of the global farmed Atlantic salmon population, which suffer from a mortality rate far higher than land-grazing chicken and cows.

Demand for the pink fish has skyrocketed in the past decade, and it’s now a $20 billion global industry, “Salmon Wars” co-authors Catherine Collins and Douglas Frantz recently told Amanda Little. 90% of the farmed Atlantic salmon that Americans are eating is imported, half of which come from Chile, a place which:

• Uses a boatload of chemicals and pesticides

• Is flooded by parasites and pathogens

• Has extreme environmental waste

“These farms are petri dishes for pathogens and viruses and parasites,” Douglas says. This toxic mix of factors amounts to a blaring public health siren for pregnant people, infants and anyone who has cancer in their family history.

The next time you head to the grocery store, trust no salmon — especially if the label just says it’s “sustainably farmed,” because the current practice of salmon farming is inherently unsustainable. Chemical-free land-based facilities could help clean up the industry, but the transition to true sustainability will be costly. Read the whole thing.

Bonus Aquatic Reading: This man spent the past two decades learning how to re-engineer an entire creek so you don’t have to. — Francis Wilkinson

The Global Market for Monoculture

On Sunday, my mother called to tell me about her discovery of the corn song, which is always a good indicator that a TikTok trend is on its deathbed (sorry, Mom!). The incredibly catchy tune by Schmoyoho now has over 53 million views, and CornTok has spread into every crevice of the internet, from Blake Shelton’s Instagram to NASA Earth’s Twitter. A trend as viral as this exhibits society’s innate desire to speak the same meme language on any given day, whether it be through American Girl Dolls or grim reapers. It’s a monoculture, of sorts.

One of the grandest examples of present-day monoculture is HBO’s latest fire-breathing venture: “House of the Dragon,” which piled up 20 million viewers in less than a week. The “Game of Thrones” prequel piqued Stephen Carter’s curiosity around the evolution of the word “monoculture” — and how it went from dictionary devil to digital darling. Historically, monoculture was something that people scoffed at — a pre-packaged meal built for the masses. But today it is something not to be hated, but to be celebrated — a collective desire for digital denizens to latch onto a sticky piece of culture and revel in it.

The origins of the word goes back to corn itself. Monoculture’s “original usage was in agriculture, to describe a harm that was done to the soil by over-reliance on a single crop,” Stephen explains. That condemnation has, of course, come back to bite us in the year 2022: American farmers have found it impossible to keep up with demand for corn the crop at precisely the same time the world’s most popular website consumes corn the song with a hunger beyond all reason. “Corn’s wild ancestors thrive in completely waterlogged soils that would kill many other crops,” David Fickling explains in today’s edition of Elements. Unfortunately, an unyielding drought has gripped 39% of the country.

The US is stuck in a never-ending electricity doom loop that is dependent on burning stuff. New York is coming off its carbon high earlier than other states like Texas, but it might not be that way for long, writes Justin Fox. Wide-open states with ample land for wind farms will have a much easier time obtaining a zero-emissions grid compared to metropolises teeming with skyscrapers.

Chinese consumers used to think that Japanese brands like Muji were ultra sleek. Now, companies are struggling against an increasingly isolated China, writes Gearoid Reidy. Japan, once a tourism paradise, is largely unvisited by the Chinese:

Bloomberg’s editorial board writes that 1.8 million monkeypox vaccines will only be a Band-Aid on the government’s failure to mitigate the burgeoning public-health emergency, which has now impacted more than 17,000 virus patients nationwide.

Elon Musk’s best defense against Twitter might not be about the bots. — Matt Levine

College tuition math might surprise you. — Matthew Yglesias

Germany looked at America’s pronoun revolution and said “hold my beer.” — Andreas Kluth

From Nike to Gap, billion-dollar brands have an odd fascination with dumpster diving. — Ben Schott

Student loan forgiveness will worsen the divide between those with college degrees and those without. — Ramesh Ponnuru

Republicans’ lack of an effective counterargument may cost them the November election. — Jonathan Bernstein

The omicron booster is a true conundrum for scientists, who say “there’s a mouse study but nobody has seen it.” — Faye Flam

French President Emmanuel Macron is done sugarcoating things. — Maria Tadeo

Jerome Powell is also done sugarcoating things. — Bill Dudley

“The Black Swan” author Nassim Nicholas Taleb says universities, not taxpayers, should pay for student debt relief.

China’s heat wave is the most severe ever recorded in the world. Water drones are helping alleviate the dry spell. (h/t Alistair Lowe)

Y Combinator names its next president: Venture Capitalist (and Bloomberg Opinion friend) Garry Tan. (h/t Mike Nizza)

Quiet quitting is basically just normal work.

Would you say “I do” to a can of Mtn Dew?

The resurgence of the study of smell.

Notes: Please send soda and feedback to Jessica Karl at jkarl9@bloomberg.net.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Jessica Karl is a social media editor for Bloomberg Opinion.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com/opinion

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