Wednesday, June 09, 2010
The EPA's Reckless Endangerment
This week, the Senate is expected to vote on S.J. Res. 26, Senator Lisa Murkowski’s resolution that would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon dioxide endangerment finding that was infamously issued on December 7th, 2009.
The resolution is cosponsored by most of the Senate Republican Caucus as well as Democrat Senators Blanche Lincoln (LA) and Ben Nelson (NE), leading “aides predict it will easily clear the 51-vote threshold for passage,” as reported by Roll Call.
The American people can only hope. The EPA’s alarmist decision greatly understates the impact of restricting and reducing carbon emissions — which means limiting energy use — on global population sustainability and economic growth. The American people (and everyone else) depend upon petroleum, gasoline, diesel, coal, and natural gas to do just about everything, including getting to work, delivering goods and services, heating their homes in the summer and cooling them in the winter, and providing hot water.
But it goes deeper than that. The population explosion over the past 200 years is entirely owed to the Industrial Revolution that was fueled in large part by increased energy output. The necessary consequence of dramatically reducing energy consumption — and the food production, medical advancement, and economic growth that depends on it — would have to be a commensurate, significant decrease in the human population.
Really, it all depends on just how draconian the agency’s restrictions of carbon emissions are. How much of a price will be placed on carbon emissions by the agency? If it’s too high, the impact could be devastating, resulting in the means of sustaining the world’s population being suddenly restricted or gradually reduced.
Either way, people will die.
Ironically, in its finding, the agency claimed that the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere “threaten[s] the public health and welfare of current and future generations” with increased heat waves, more-intense hurricanes, floods, storm surges, rising sea levels, erosion, wildfires, drought, and even allergens and pathogens. The EPA also predicts the displacement of indigenous populations, the eventual decrease of food production and agriculture, and the reduction of forest productivity.
With predictions that dire, one would expect that the finding shall become the foundation for the EPA to incrementally regulate, restrict, and eventually prohibit emissions of carbon dioxide by motor vehicles and industry.
Maybe, if the people are lucky, the very air we all exhale shall remain unregulated, although given the broad nature of the finding, there certainly would be nothing to stop regulation in this arena — except for the Constitution. Liberty lovers may be out luck, however. The lack of constitutional authority for a federal agency to issue such a dictatorial proclamation has already been ignored by the Supreme Court in 2007, when the nation’s highest court ruled that carbon dioxide could be regulated by the EPA as a “pollutant.”
Making matters worse, in its finding the EPA disregarded the downward trend in global temperatures over the past decade despite increased carbon emissions, as documented by APS Physics Christopher Monckton of Brenchley. It ignored the failed projections of increased temperatures by the International Panel on Climate Change and other proponents of the man-made global warming hypothesis. It suppressed internal dissent at the agency, as when Dr. Alan Carlin submitted comments against the EPA’s finding.
The EPA even overlooked the impact of the Climategate scandal where it was revealed that global temperature data was manipulated and exaggerated by climatologists, and then utilized to promote public policies such as the endangerment finding, the punitive carbon emissions cap-and-tax now being considered in Congress, and the damaging Copenhagen Protocols that would have been an extension of the Kyoto-era restrictions on energy output.
That alone should be cause for Senators to vote in the affirmative on Murkowski’s resolution repealing the EPA’s endangerment finding. It is devoid of all of the most important recent revelations in climate science, including the serious doubt that has been cast upon the premise that man is even responsible for fluctuations in the Earth’s temperature.
In the end, the finding — and whatever tyrannical restrictions on energy use result from it — will ultimately prove more dangerous than man-made global warming ever could have been. As written by Monckton, “The correct policy approach to a non-problem is to have the courage to do nothing.”
The EPA Runs Amuck
By Alan Caruba
Here’s what my friend, Dr. Kenneth P. Green, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, had to say about the energy and environment “advisor” to President Barack Obama:
“Carol Browner’s selection as ‘energy coordinator’ (sometimes called energy czar) virtually guarantees that the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies will be anything but moderate.”
“Her two terms as Environmental Protection Agency boss were marked by adversarialism, punitive enforcement actions, draconian tightening of environmental regulations and the message that business is destructive of the environment and dishonest about the cost of environmental regulations.”
And that was just the nice things he had to say about Browner. It is worth noting that Browner has been the lead spokesman about the BP oil spill for the Obama administration after it became obvious that Ken Salazar, the Secretary of the Interior, was generating negative public reaction to his ‘get tough’ approach and there have been few public statements issued by Dr. Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy.
The current administrator of the EPA is Lisa Jackson who learned her trade working under Browner until she was picked to head the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. A Browner acolyte, Jackson has presided over an EPA run amuck.
Jackson will be remembered for leading the EPA fight to get carbon dioxide declared a “pollutant” that can then be regulated under the Clean Air Act. This is the same reasoning put forth by the constantly renamed Cap-and-Trade Act that is was a “climate” bill and has now become something else. It is based on the same totally bogus “science” that gave us “global warming” until Mother Nature decided that the Earth should begin to cool about a decade ago.
President Obama just announced that, just like the much-hated healthcare reform bill, he is going to devote himself to getting Cap-and-Trade passed by Congress. Combined, they should be called The Destroying America’s Economy Act.
Suffice to say that, other than oxygen, carbon dioxide is the other gas on which all life on Earth depends. It’s what all vegetation “breaths” and, coincidently, it is what all humans and other animals exhale. It has nothing to do with the climate.
Dr. Green points out that, “When it comes to climate change, she is a disciple of Al Gore for whom she worked from 1988 to 1991,” adding that “Browner believes that ‘climate change is the greatest challenge ever faced’ and that the EPA is the agency to face it.”
I have been watching the EPA in action since it was created in the 1970s by Mr. Watergate himself, Richard Nixon. It has since expanded like a cancer cell, doing a lot of damage along the way. There must be a sign on the wall of EPA headquarters that says, “If it’s a chemical, we will ban it.” On May 24, the EPA announced it was discussing the perils of oil dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico. Please, let’s do nothing to disperse the oil!
From its earliest days, the EPA set out to ban or limit the use of any and all pesticides nationwide. They have never stopped. It is essential to understand that what passes for EPA “science” is merely a charade to advance their agenda.
It can cost up to $15 million or more for a company to get a pesticide registered for use. If you take away the pesticides, all that’s left is the pests, but this simple truth is lost on the EPA. They have come up with a proposed new “permit requirement that would decrease the amount of pesticides discharged to our nation’s waters and protect human health and the environment.” If you really want to protect human health, you have to kill the billions of insect and rodent pests that have always spread disease.
So far in the last month, the EPA has announced they will release “a draft health assessment for formaldehyde that focuses on evaluating the potential toxicity of inhalation exposures to this chemical.”
Also announced was news that the EPA “is initiating a rulemaking to better protect the environment and public health from the harmful effects of sanitary sewer overflows and basement backups.” They are “reviewing” Florida’s coastal water quality standards, a move that will wreak havoc on its agricultural and tourist industries.
Another EPA announcement noted that “It just got harder for a TV to earn the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star. Starting May 1, 2010, TV’s that carry the government’s Energy Star label are, on average, 40 percent more efficient than conventional models.” This is all done in the name of “reducing greenhouse gas emissions” when, in fact, this is the baseless justification for the global warming hoax.
If at this point, you are beginning to think the EPA is just a tad intrusive regarding your basement backup problems, the kind of television set you should purchase, and other previous decisions such as how much water your toilet can use or the banning of incandescent light bulbs nationwide, you will be happy to know that in May the EPA took the time to “encourage ways to travel green by checking into an Energy Star labeled hotel.”
While in the hotel, you are advised to “turn off the lights and TV when leaving the hotel room”, “adjust the thermostat to an energy-saving setting so it doesn’t heat or cool the room while empty”, “to open curtains to take advantage of daylight when possible”, and “re-use linens to save both water and energy.”
If, by now, you’re getting the feeling that the EPA is more intrusive into the most mundane aspects of your life than any other government agency or combination of agencies, you’re right.
And very little of it has anything to do with protecting your health or the environment. It has everything to do with advancing a fanatical green agenda intended to threaten every form of energy production, manufacturing process, property rights, and your right to make a wide range of personal lifestyle decisions.
James Hansen and Climate Change; NASA’s Disgrace
Christopher Horner requested information from National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) through Freedom of Information (FOI) and now reports, “We have asked the court to order NASA – which has evaded our Freedom of Information Act requests for three years – to turn over documents related to global warming activities undertaken by federal employees.”
It’s the pattern of blocking seen throughout the official climate science community
Recently the University of Virginia asked the courts to block requests for information from Attorney General Cuccinelli on the Michael Mann situation. What do they have to hide? We’re talking about scientific claims at the basis of massive global energy and economic policies. The taxpayer funds the work and will be impacted, yet they’re denied access.
Who Is In Control?
Public image is a major concern for NASA, so why have they allowed James Hansen, Director of their Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to act as he has? There is now evidence suggesting the problem has gone on for a long time; “the equation upon which all Global Warming Theory studies are built is inherently flawed.” They then make a most devastating claim, “Worse, however, than the flaw in the equation, is that this fact has remained covered up by NASA from the first Lunar landing until now, nearly 41 years.”
NASA needs to understand weather and climate because it affects the launch orbit and landing of space vehicles. In the early years they produced excellent work like Herman and Goldberg’s 1978 book Sun, Weather and Climate. Early interests somehow changed. “Much of the institute’s early work involved study of planetary atmospheres using data collected by telescopes and space probes, and in time that led to GISS becoming a leading center of atmospheric modeling and of climate change.”
Apparently Hansen caused much of the shift as he pushed his political agenda. NASA GISS employee Gavin Schmidt provided support especially by active participation in RealClimate the attack group organized to defend the Climatic Research Unit (CRU).
Many people wondered how much of his work time went to Realclimate activities and how much represented NASA’s positions.
Hansen deflected attention from his activities by claiming he was muzzled for political ends.
His former boss Dr. John S. Theon, retired Chief of the Climate Processes Research Program at NASA completely discredited this idea. “Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress” – EPW
Hansen knew the situation because in public he presented himself either as Director of GISS or as a private citizen. He’s entitled to his views as a private citizen, but it’s an affront to imply that when speaking to a group on climate his position will not influence public opinion. Of course, his private views will influence his professional views.
Theon made his own views on global warming public after he retired in a communication to the Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “I appreciate the opportunity to add my name to those who disagree that global warming is man-made,” His major concern was the models. “My own belief concerning anthropogenic climate change is that the models do not realistically simulate the climate system because there are many very important sub-grid scale processes that the models either replicate poorly or completely omit,”
He made a disturbing comment about the data, which beyond the models is at the very heart of the climate problem. “Furthermore, some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results. In doing so, they neither explain what they have modified in the observations, nor explain how they did it. They have resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists. This is clearly contrary to how science should be done. Thus there is no rational justification for using climate model forecasts to determine public policy,”
Is Theon referring to Hansen when he talks about manipulating data to prove the models? Why didn’t Theon rein in Hansen? He explains the limitations of his position with Hansen. “I was, in effect, Hansen’s supervisor because I had to justify his funding, allocate his resources, and evaluate his results. I did not have the authority to give him his annual performance evaluation,” In the Minority Office report Theon describes Hansen as a “nice, likeable fellow,” but worries “he’s been overcome by his belief—almost religious—that he’s going to save the world.” And that’s the problem.
Either ignorance of climate science or a deliberate attempt to mislead or both
Hansen uses his bureaucratic position as Director of NASA GISS, to pursue a political agenda. He inflated the issue of human induced global warming to a global fraud in 1988 testimony before a House and Senate committee when he said; “the greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now” This shows either ignorance of climate science or a deliberate attempt to mislead or both. The phrasing suggests incorrectly the greenhouse effect is new. There is no evidence, except in the computer models, that it is causing current climate change. He capped this with another unsupportable statement that he was, “99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.”
NASA GISS Controls And “Adjusts” Data
Besides its focus on modeling and climate change NASA GISS established itself as the source of global temperatures. It’s probably the record Theon refers to in his comment about data because it has consistently been the centre of controversy.
One was discovery of the so-called the Y2K error, which resulted in a significant change in the US temperature record. The claim 1998 was the warmest year on record and 9 of 10 of the warmest years were in that decade was amended to 1934 being the warmest and 4 of the top 10 were in the 1930s.
Emails related to this incident obtained through freedom of information prompted the comment, “Climate activist and arch-druid of the AGW movement James Hansen caught out telling porkies? Now that would be a tragedy for the Climate Fear Promotion industry! “ (Porkies is English slang for lies.)
Each year global annual temperatures are produced by different agencies and every time the NASA GISS data shows a more pronounced warming. “Each time Hansen announces that the GISS has discovered a better way to statistically modify actual US ground temperatures, warming becomes even more pronounced and any cooling less pronounced.”
All adjustments enhance the warming trend to support Theon’s comment that, “some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results.” Even with adjustments model projections overestimate the warming, but then exact replication would raise more suspicions.
“Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him”
In the July/August 2008 issue of Launch Magazine NASA Astronaut and Physicist Walter Cunningham wrote, “Hansen is a political activist who spreads fear even when NASA’s own data contradict him,”… “NASA should be at the forefront in the collection of scientific evidence and debunking the current hysteria over human-caused, or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Unfortunately, it’s becoming just another agency caught up in the politics of global warming, or worse, politicized science.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Here are NASA’s own words about transparency. “NASA is expanding transparency, participation, and collaboration and creating a new level of openness and accountability. We are focusing on embedding open government into three integrated aspects of our operations—policy, technology, and culture.”
Actions of NASA GISS under James Hansen makes them a mockery.
Roman Warm Period (Europe -- Mediterranean) -- Summary
Climate alarmists contend that the degree of global warmth over the latter part of the 20th century, and continuing to the present day, was greater than it was at any other time over the past one to two millennia, because this contention helps support their claim that what they call the "unprecedented" temperatures of the past few decades were CO2-induced. Hence, they cannot stomach the thought that the Medieval Warm Period of a thousand years ago could have been just as warm as, or even warmer than, it has been recently, especially since there was so much less CO2 in the air a thousand years ago than there is now.
Likewise, they are equally loath to admit that temperatures of the Roman Warm Period of two thousand years ago may also have rivaled, or exceeded, those of the recent past, since atmospheric CO2 concentrations at that time were also much lower than they are today. As a result, climate alarmists rarely even mention the Roman Warm Period, as they are happy to let sleeping dogs lie. In addition, they refuse to acknowledge that these two prior warm periods were global in extent, claiming instead that they were local phenomena restricted to lands surrounding the North Atlantic Ocean.
In another part of our Subject Index we explore these contentions as they apply to the Medieval Warm Period. In this Summary, we explore them as they pertain to the Roman Warm Period, focusing on studies conducted in lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
Working with a core of 2.5 meters length, which they sampled at intervals of 2 cm in the upper 1 meter and at intervals of 5 cm below that depth, Martinez-Cortizas et al. (1999) derived a record of mercury deposition in the peat bog of Penido Vello in northwest Spain that extends to 4000 radiocarbon years before the present, which they analyzed for a number of parameters. This work revealed, in their words, "that cold climates promoted an enhanced accumulation and the preservation of mercury with low thermal stability, and warm climates were characterized by a lower accumulation and the predominance of mercury with moderate to high thermal stability."
Based on these findings and further analyses, they derived a temperature history for the region that they standardized to the mean temperature of the most recent 30 years of their record. This work revealed that the mean temperature of the Medieval Warm Period in northwest Spain was 1.5°C warmer than it was over the 30 years leading up to the time of their study, and that the mean temperature of the Roman Warm Period was 2°C warmer.
Even more impressive was their finding that several decadal-scale intervals during the Roman Warm Period were more than 2.5°C warmer than the 1968-98 period, while an interval in excess of 80 years during the Medieval Warm Period was more than 3°C warmer. Thus, Martinez-Cortizas et al. concluded, and rightly so, that "for the past 4000 years ... the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period were the most important warming periods."
Four years later, Desprat et al. (2003) studied the climatic variability of the last three millennia in northwest Iberia via a high-resolution pollen analysis of a sediment core retrieved from the central axis of the Ria de Vigo in the south of Galicia. By so doing, they found "an alternation of three relatively cold periods with three relatively warm episodes." In order of their occurrence, these periods were described by Desprat et al. as the "first cold phase of the Subatlantic period (975-250 BC)," which was "followed by the Roman Warm Period (250 BC-450 AD)," which was followed by "a successive cold period (450-950 AD), the Dark Ages," which "was terminated by the onset of the Medieval Warm Period (950-1400 AD)," which was followed by "the Little Ice Age (1400-1850 AD), including the Maunder Minimum (at around 1700 AD)," which "was succeeded by the recent warming (1850 AD to the present)."
Commenting on their findings, Desprat et al. offered the opinion that "solar radiative budget and oceanic circulation seem to be the main mechanisms forcing this cyclicity in NW Iberia," noting that "a millennial-scale climatic cyclicity over the last 3000 years is detected for the first time in NW Iberia paralleling global climatic changes recorded in North Atlantic marine records (Bond et al., 1997; Bianchi and McCave, 1999; Chapman and Shackelton, 2000)." And this body of findings suggests that the establishment of the Current Warm Period over the course of the past century or so may have been nothing more than the most recent manifestation of this naturally-recurring phenomenon.
After two more years had passed, Kvavadze and Connor (2005) analyzed various sets of data pertaining to the ecology, pollen productivity and Holocene history of Zelkova carpinifolia, a Tertiary-relict tree whose pollen is almost always accompanied by elevated concentrations of the pollen of other thermophilous taxa; and because Zelkova carpinifolia requires heat and moisture during the growing period, they say that the discovery of fossil remains of the species in Holocene sediments "can be a good indicator of optimal climatic conditions."
More specifically, they indicate that "Western Georgian pollen spectra of the Subatlantic period show that the period began in a cold phase, but, by 2200 cal yr BP, climatic amelioration commenced," noting that "the maximum phase of warming [was] observed in spectra from 1900 cal yr BP," which interval of warmth was Georgia's contribution to the Roman Warm Period.
A cooler phase of climate, during the Dark Ages Cold Period, "occurred in Western Georgia about 1500-1400 cal yr BP," according to the two scientists; but it too was followed by another warm period "from 1350 to 800 years ago," which was, of course, the Medieval Warm Period.
During portions of this latter warm epoch, they report that tree lines "migrated upwards and the distribution of Zelkova broadened." In addition, they present a history of Holocene oscillations of the upper tree-line in Abkhasia -- derived by Kvavadze et al. (1992) -- that depicts slightly greater-than-1950 elevations during a portion of the Medieval Warm Period and much greater extensions above the 1950 tree-line during parts of the Roman Warm Period, which observations imply much warmer conditions than what prevailed there around AD 1950, which was the "present" of Kvavadze and Connor's study.
Working contemporaneously, Pla and Catalan (2005) analyzed chrysophyte cyst data they collected from 105 lakes located within the Central and Eastern Pyrenees of northeast Spain to produce a Holocene history of winter/spring temperatures. A significant oscillation was evident in this thermal reconstruction in which the region's climate alternated between warm and cold phases over the past several thousand years. Of particular note were the Little Ice Age, Medieval Warm Period, Dark Ages Cold Period and, once again, the subject of this summary: the Roman Warm Period.
Last of all, we come to the paper of Garcia et al. (2007), who introduced the report of their work by noting that "despite many studies that have pointed to ... the validity of the classical climatic oscillations described for the Late Holocene (Medieval Warm Period, Little Ice Age, etc.), there is a research line that suggests the non-global signature of these periods (IPCC, 2001; Jones and Mann, 2004)." Noting that "the best way to solve this controversy would be to increase the number of high-resolution records covering the last millennia and to increase the spatial coverage of these records," they proceeded to do just that.
Working with a number of sediment cores retrieved from a river-fed wetland that is flooded for approximately seven months of each year in Las Tablas de Daimiel National Park (south central Iberian Peninsula, Spain), Garcia et al. employed "a high resolution pollen record in combination with geochemical data from sediments composed mainly of layers of charophytes alternating with layers of vegetal remains plus some detrital beds" to reconstruct "the environmental evolution of the last 3000 years."
In doing so, the six Spanish researchers were able to identify five distinct climatic stages: "a cold and arid phase during the Subatlantic (Late Iron Cold Period, < B.C. 150), a warmer and wetter phase (Roman Warm Period, B.C. 150-A.D. 270), a new colder and drier period coinciding with the Dark Ages (A.D. 270-900), the warmer and wetter Medieval Warm Period (A.D. 900-1400), and finally a cooling phase (Little Ice Age, >A.D. 1400)."
Noting that "the Iberian Peninsula is unique, as it is located at the intersection between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, Europe and Africa, and is consequently affected by all of them," Garcia et al. significantly advanced the likelihood that the classical climatic oscillations described for the Late Holocene -- of which the Roman Warm Period is a prime example -- were indeed both real and global in scope, as well as not-CO2-induced, which means that earth's current level of warmth need not be CO2-induced as well.
SOURCE (See the original for references)
Freer Trade is Key to a Cleaner Environment and Green Growth
In remarks on World Environment Day, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Pascal Lamy, pointed out that, “Trade opening has much to contribute in the fight against climate change and to the protection of the environment.”
Indeed, the most practical improvements in energy efficiency and protecting the environment over the past decades haven’t stemmed from government regulatory mandates. As shown in the analysis of the Index of Economic Freedom, the most progress has been driven by advances in freer trade and economic freedom. These unleash greater economic opportunity and prosperity, generating a virtuous cycle of investment, innovation, and dynamic economic growth. Echoing the same message, the WTO chief further noted:
The entire world is well aware of the environmental dangers posed to our planet. But the ability of governments to respond to these dangers is tied closely to the resources at their disposal. Countries which have had success in alleviating poverty and raising living standards tend to be more adept at creating the conditions for a cleaner environment.
Policy efforts aimed at imposing stricter environmental standards through a national or global regulatory body run great risk of being not only fruitless, but also counterproductive. They undercut the economic growth and efficiency indispensable to effective efforts to protect the environment. Such regulations are likely to be little more that feel-good actions! The fundamental flaw of those favoring new government directives is the fallacy that there must be a trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection. They seem to think that to get more of one, you have to have less of the other. The truth is just the opposite: to get more environmental protection you need more growth, not less.
It is encouraging that many Americans see that truth. As a March 2010 Gallup survey reveals, more Americans believe that economic growth should take priority over environmental protection when the two goals collides, with fewer willing to support environmental measures that may have a negative economic impact!
Busybodies take aim at plastic shopping bags
As if the nanny state wasn't intrusive enough already, busybodies in the California Assembly are sticking their noses in where they don't belong, passing a bill to ban plastic shopping bags. This is a classic case of perennial meddlers looking to boss people around for no good reason.
Plastic shopping bags are far from an environmental menace. In fact, the environmental impact of plastic shopping bags also pales in comparison to the environmental impact of paper and canvas bags.
According to the Environmental Literacy Council, plastic bags are better for air quality than paper bags because they weigh less and are more compact, requiring one-seventh the number of trucks to ship the same number of bags. And fewer truck trips carrying lighter loads mean less oil consumption and less pollution.
The council also reports that plastic bags are more environmentally benign in landfills, since they require only a fraction of landfill space compared with paper bags.
Don't let environmental activists fool you regarding reusable canvas bags, either.
Reusable canvas bags are likely to become downright gross in no time. The next time you buy ice cream, notice how much of it sticks to the outside of the carton, ready to turn a canvas shopping bag into a gooey mess and a feeding station for ants and cockroaches. Notice, too, how much juice leaks from the fruit salad container and how much bacteria-infested gook leaks from meat packages.
Keeping canvas bags sanitary and reusable will require frequent additional cycles for your washer and dryer. These extra laundry cycles, of course, result in more energy use, more air pollutants from electricity generation, and more water pollution from detergents.
And, since most people don't keep an immaculate calendar dictating which days and at what times they will stop by the grocery store, they will have to keep the trunks of their cars stuffed with numerous heavy, bulky canvas bags. As a result, every automobile trip -- wherever the destination -- would mean more automobile weight due to the stash of canvas bags. More automobile weight means more gasoline will get burned and more pollutants be released into the air.
In addition, the popular notion of plastic shopping bags entangling and choking marine life is an urban myth, more befitting of a Mark Twain tall tale than a serious discussion on the environment. According to U.S. Marine Mammal Commission senior analyst Dr. David Laist, "Plastic bags do not figure in entanglement. The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands."
He adds that, "The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem, either."
In reality, the only environmental harm caused by plastic shopping bags is the sight blight that happens when people litter. But why should plastic shopping bags be treated any differently in this regard than soda cans, water bottles, juice boxes and other items? It seems that a far better solution is to impose heavier fines on littering, which would have the additional benefit of reducing all forms of litter.
But why bother with a simple, unobtrusive solution when you can find a new excuse to be a buttinsky?
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Posted by JR at 1:04 PM