Friday, November 26, 2004


The most popular environmental campaign in Australia does not focus on the melting polar ice caps, the hole in the ozone layer or even the imminent collapse of our inland river system under the weight of irrigation, salinity and drought. Even if we have not adopted it ourselves, we see the result each time we go shopping. Indeed, it is almost a mark of social responsibility. After years of talk, retail chains - under considerable Government pressure to reduce the more than 6 billion plastic bags handed out free each year - have gone green and the reusable bag has become ubiquitous at shopping centres across the nation. These bags, mostly bright green polypropylene, have become de rigueur as people swing away from plastic. It is a mark of the campaign's success that they have spread with little debate about their value.

When it comes to the environmental issue that is politically hot, look no further than the federal election. That was the time for Tasmania's old-growth forests. After years in a figurative wilderness, forest activists suddenly found themselves at the heart of debate. Why? When polar ice is imperilled and water is becoming a precious commodity, why do green bags and old-growth forests win? Recently the American writer Malcolm Gladwell introduced a term that found its way into daily use. He traced the phrase to the world of epidemiology. Scientists who study epidemics describe the moment when a virus reaches critical mass, when the graph line suddenly shoots up, as "the tipping point". Gladwell says the tipping point is the key to understanding why change can happen so quickly. "Ideas and behaviour and messages and products sometimes behave just like outbreaks of infectious disease," he wrote. The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, used the phrase to describe the battle for Falluja, and a Californian venture capitalist said the search for cleaner fuels was now at tipping point.

Why then green bags and old growth? Each appears to be an idea whose time has come: the first to the consumer, the second to the voter. For today's shoppers, reusable bags have the attractions of immediacy and broad appeal. "People can see the impact of the problem, are given an alternative, they test it, and realise it doesn't disrupt their lives," said James Arvanitakis, from the school of humanities and social sciences at the University of Technology, Sydney. "They say: 'I can do something myself.' It reflects the recycling process." The other beauty of the campaign is its wide appeal. It's not just for the acutely environmentally aware. The campaign reaches out past the rich and inner-city people to the suburbs. Woolworths, for example, sold more than 2.2 million green bags in little more than a year.

The green bags are accepted in homes where other issues aren't, says Arvanitakis. "Inner-city hippies are all guilty of being aggressive in the way we campaign. Campaigners haven't learnt to talk to [people in the suburbs], or when we do, [it's] to tell them they're all wrong: their houses aren't environmentally friendly, they have two cars and they don't use public transport enough." Too often the result is the creation of a siege mentality, he says. Sending out the message of plastic bags and pollution is relatively easy. Explaining a link between air-conditioners, energy use and climate change is much harder, even if that connection is more important.

That explanation - and any possible solutions - also lack immediacy, says Arvanitakis. "People get sidetracked with other things. Yes, the environment is important, melting ice caps are important and people are concerned, but it requires a long-term focus," he says.

More here


The elitist eco-hypocrites of San Francisco have a new weapon in their never-ending attack on poor people: Now they want to tax grocery bags at 17 cents a pop. "The measure is primarily being pushed by environmentalists who view plastic grocery bags as a menace, not as a modern marvel of convenience," USA Today reported today.

Of course, 17 cents a bag won't mean anything to the Lexus leftists, but it's just another slap in the face of those who already struggle to scrape by in the expensive city in the expensive state.

"Folks take the free plastic bag for granted," sniffed Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste, which supports the scheme.

However, the fee "is an incredible amount of money to a consumer," noted Paul Smith of California Grocers Association. "Before you know it, that's an extra dollar to your food bill every time you go shopping."



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

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