Author Archives: Fred Zimmerman

Cognitive Habits and Public Health

When people make decisions about health—their own or the public’s—they’re not thinking rationally, and that’s a very good thing. The standard model of decision-making in economics and elsewhere claims that people have stable preferences and perfect information about the world, and that they rationally choose actions that maximize the match between the world and their […]

Time for a floor price on gasoline

Electric cars charging.

On Streetsblog, Charles Komanoff makes a number of great points about the low price of gasoline driving more C02 emissions, and endorses Congressional proposals for a carbon tax on the order of $100/ton, which would raise gasoline prices by about $1.00/gallon.   Elsewhere Komanoff says, “the climate problem cannot be solved without carbon emission fees,” by which […]

The poisoned carrot of climate policy

Gas prices are down to around $3 a gallon and that’s a disaster. But worse is yet to come.   In the US there is no way to get to meaningful reductions without changing the transportation sector, which accounts for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions.   Strategies to combat climate change can be thought of […]

Public Health Letter Grades

restaurant grade

Grades work.   Under the leadership of then-Director Jonathan Fielding, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health pioneered a letter-grade system for restaurant sanitation.  The program has been a tremendous success, imitated throughout the country and now to Europe.  Following the introduction of restaurant letter grades, restaurant hygiene increased dramatically and the incidence of food-borne illness […]

Parking minimums and fitness

This entertaining two-minute video explains why parking is one of the most important parts of the context of urban health. UCLA professor Don Shoup has been beating this drum for years, although not so much from a health angle.  Sometimes the simplest regulations—that every home and commercial space has to come with parking—have the deepest impacts. […]

The Bike, Bus and Asshole Lane

Wilshire Boulevard has a new bus-only lane, but it’s bus-only in name only.   Until the City gets serious about enforcement, perhaps the bus-only  lane should be known by a more descriptive name: the bus, bike and asshole lane.   Cars routinely drive in the bus lane during bus-only/bike-only hours and enforcement is non-existent. Most drivers respect […]

The Third Era of Humility

The third era is an exciting time to be in public health. It means not just badgering individuals about their health behaviors, but working across sectors to ensure the conditions in which people can pursue health. And it recognizes health as a resource for everyday living. But while the third era of public health has […]

Raising the Floor on Gasoline

It’s time to put a floor under the price of gasoline.   The climate talks going on in Paris this week will determine how many hundreds of millions of people will be displaced by climate change. At stake is whether the planet warms by 4 degrees Celsius, or only about 2 degrees. The effects of a […]