Westerners like me are tired of far-flung policymakers calling the environmental shots based on bad science and a major advertising budget. The United Nations insists that too much petroleum-based pollution is creating an atmospheric carbon crisis.
Rather than sanction automakers for suppressing non-petroleum fuel sources (including water or steam), the UN agendas for the past few decades have outlined increasingly strict sanctions against the general public – we who are forced to use nasty, toxic petroleum products – to prevent human extinction. Or some such nonsense.
Another hot button for globalist earth-savers is garbage littering both land and sea. Landfills are filling up and one part of the ocean is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where “the largest accumulation of ocean plastic in the world…is located between Hawaii and California.” The last sampling found more than 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in the patch that weigh an estimated 80,000 tonnes.
Photos of trash polluting ocean waters are never pretty. Much of that refuse is composed of plastic that is either very slow to decompose or never disappears completely, leaving instead microbits of plastic that can harm sea creatures that eat them.
Most refuse washes into the ocean from rivers. We find trash both near where it is originally deposited as well as downstream or down-current. Therefore, it’s no big surprise that the surf off the coast of California’s large metropolitan areas (San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco) is full of garbage.
In early 2018, a California lower house member named Ian Calderon proposed a misdemeanor law that, had it not been hooted down by the public, would have imposed fines on sit-down restaurant servers who gave plastic drinking straws to patrons without first asking. He thought that cutting back on the disposable beverage tubes would reduce the environmental impact and fight back against the plastic industry. And its customers.
The bill’s originator said he was only trying to raise consciousness about the perils of pollution:
“We need to create awareness around the issue of one-time-use plastic straws and its detrimental effects on our landfills, waterways, and oceans.”
But nannying Big Brother tends to identify a problem – plastic foodservice waste, in this case – and then solve it with punishment rather than an incentive (such as a tax credit) or some other reward for adopting the desired, eco-friendly behavior.
One astute analyst broke down the Anti-Straw Craze:
“Do you like plastic straws? You’re a bad person. According to do-gooders, straws end up in the ocean and eventually into the noses of sea turtles. Is that true? No. Okay, fine, there was one turtle with a straw in its nose. But when it comes to plastic pollution in the ocean, straws aren’t the problem. Fishing gear is, specifically fishing nets.”
There is no denying that Americans do produce plastic trash that ends up in the oceans. But the October 2017 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology estimated that 88-95 percent of plastic pollution in the oceans came from just 10 rivers. Eight of those rivers are in Asia.
Eight of the ten most polluted rivers are in Asia: the Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai He, Ganges, Pearl, Amur, and Mekong. Two are in Africa: the Nile and the Niger.
These ten countries are all poor. Their governments can’t afford modern sanitation systems. Dr. Christian Schmidt, one of the study authors from the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research, said:
“The more waste there is in a catchment area that is not disposed of properly, the more plastic ultimately ends up in the river and takes this route to the sea.”
The river waste researchers also found more plastic trash per cubic meter of water in large rivers compared to small ones. All ten river systems shared one characteristic:
“The rivers all had two things in common: a generally high population living in the surrounding region – sometimes into the hundreds of millions – and a less than ideal waste management process.”
The research showed that every other country in the world – including the U.S. – contributes collectively only 10 percent. This in no way diminishes the need for speed in removing plastic trash from the oceans. Just don’t blame it all on us westerners.