Plastic bag bans, the new Al Qaeda

There was a picture of Mayor Rob Ford lounging sardonically – I’ve never seen that done before – in a council seat the day of the infamous Toronto bag ban.

I’m going to say it.

Ford looked and acted liked Jabba the Hut, not just the size of the man, but the snarl on his face and his complete disdain for intellectual argument.  To me the picture said, “I want, I want, I want and nothing’s going to get in my way.” A very Jabba moment.

Around the same time as the vote to ban plastic bags occurred the Journal of Nature published a study of “tipping points”.  A tipping point is a collection of reinforcing crises that send the earth and its inhabitants into new, uncharted but really bad territory.  Think ice age or asteroid collision, that kind of thing.

The study wasn’t just another global warming study.  No, global warming was just the start.  It threw all the current environmental crises together in a great global mash-up: global warming, ocean degradation, species loss, urbanization, forest loss, glacier melts … that sort of thing.

It was carried out by scientists.  You know, those folks with few if any emotions and a fact finding way of operating called the scientific method.

The general conclusion of the study was that we were heading towards the cliff.  And we’ve got our foot on the gas.  Everyone read Cormac MacCarthy’s “The Road” and prepare.

I wouldn’t characterize myself as an environmentalist. I forget my cloth bags way to much to measure up.  And my bike is sitting in the basement with a flat tire, but I do worry.  As a sometime climber and hiker I’ve seen the clearcuts and shrinking glaciers increase significantly in my short time on this earth.  Something is up and it is not good.

We should be doing something.  A plastic bag ban is a little something.

What I don’t understand are Jabba and his media followers like Margaret Wente and the entire staff of the National Post with their shrill screams of ‘How dare you take our plastic bags’ as if all that matters is their convenience.  ‘Good God’ they say, ‘What living hell will befall us if we don’t have twenty crinkly plastic bags to carry our groceries to our Lincoln Navigator at the mall?’

Margaret Wente ratchets it up.  ‘If the Bolsheviks get their way we won’t have anything to pick up our dog shit,’ Wente whines.  Oh, the troubles of the haut bourgeoisie.  Marie Antoinette never had it so bad.

I’m not saying the plastic bag ban is the lynchpin of our survival.  But for crying out loud if we can’t figure out a way to get rid of this sizable form of pollution and deal with the short-term inconvenience until the market figures out a better replacement we are doomed and deservedly so.

Yeah, yeah I hate it when I forget my cloth bag.  I feel stupid asking for paper.  But geez, if that means the trees won’t be full of drifting plastic crap in the winter, I’ll deal.


On another environmental note, the Vancouver Sun is continuing its pursuit of the pseudo argument “Is Climate Change real?”.  In today’s letters to the editor, Kenneth Lawrence represents the naysayers.

Kenneth is well known member of the tin hat brigade.  His self published book “The Evolution Delusion” is available on-line if you want to catch up on that.

Last week in the Sun it was an op-ed by an ally of the National Front.  This week a letter by an evolution denier.

Scientists/Nutbars? Scientists/Nutbars?  Who are we to believe?

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8 Responses to Plastic bag bans, the new Al Qaeda

  1. Merv Adey says:

    yeah, I’m hopeless too. My percentage for remembering the cloth bag is about 50..pathetic.

    More interesting is the debate on “anothropogenic” climate change… We can choose to believe that climate change is not happening, or we can choose to believe it is happening, but it isn’t our fault.

    Neither of those positions can rationally be used to justify the failure to do something good (when we can remember,…let’s work on it), like abandoning the use of plastic whenever possible.

  2. Jim says:

    Where to start? 1. First the city starts telling me whether or not I can use very convienent, sustainable (you can use them over and over and they are recyclable), enviromentally friendly(one less tree cut down), natural (crude comes from the earth) plastic bags THEN I am told what toilet paper to use (only unbleached, from recycled garbage and scratchy) or none at all because a sink is nearby. What a slippery slope? Impossible n’est pas, the politico statist says.

    2. To answer the rhetorical q. Misleading, upwards adjusting, lose funding if they do not jump folks. Or is it the volcanoes! Ban Mother Earth the others say! My actions are nothing compared to the pollution from one yacht or freighter idling in the harbour bringing in those Hermes bags and useless knicknacks. (Of course, grams/tonne-km is lower by marine than by truck or rail (OECD,The enviromental effects of freight) ” April 23, 2009 The Guardian has reported on new research showing that in one year, a single large container ship can emit cancer and asthma-causing pollutants equivalent to that of 50 million cars. The low grade bunker fuel used by the worlds 90,000 cargo ships contains up to 2,000 times the amount of sulfur compared to diesel fuel used in automobiles.” Drive and drive some more, for my small, small diesel auto is a nothing in comparison, as are 98% of ordinary peoples actions. BUT lose the guilt trip.

    3. Just do the best one can with ones resources. Try not to litter, or pollute within reason.

  3. Ian says:

    Norm, a great TedTalks, highly recommended.

  4. Mogs says:

    “Yeah, yeah I hate it when I forget my cloth bag. I feel stupid asking for paper. But geez, if that means the trees won’t be full of drifting plastic crap in the winter, I’ll deal.”

    Google the ‘great pacific plastic garbage patch’ and hopefully this will wake you from the slumber I am sick of seeing my fellow travelers in. And while you are at it remember all life came from the oceans and then google this ‘ocean acidification’. If this does not stop you from participating in the corporate world nothing will and you may as well bend over kiss your a** goodbye, as collectively under a corporate world we are destroying the sea of life, good riddance if you can’t change your addiction to corporate greed and malfeasance. Plastic, gasoline, oil, cars etc.

  5. islandcynic says:

    Rather than banning the plastic bag outright the city council of TO should have come up with a solution instead. The approach was all wrong and was just asking for this paralyzing reaction. Why not ban just non-biodegradable plastics but allow ones that do? Why not showcase good bags that can replace them? Why not support a campaign for reminding the public to bring your own to the store? People do not want to be told that they are ‘bad’. Make us feel good about bringing our own and being a part of the solution.

    As far as Ford goes, your description is bang on. This guy just wants his way or none at all. I have no respect for him at all.

  6. Evan Leeson says:

    You reference to The Road made me cringe. I have a six year old. I work on climate change pretty much 24/7. If we believe we are headed for the abyss, then my best play is to build a bunker for my family. I don’t want to do that. I want to believe we can change and adapt. There will be much pain on a global level, but I refuse to believe it is now already game over. The same scientists who are in consensus on the reality of climate science are not at all in consensus on doomsday scenarios. The article you reference describes the scenario as “plausible” and asks for better biological prediction models. Comments on the article suggest its conclusions have been overstated by popular media. I’ll wait before I start on the bunker.

  7. Ian says:

    Evan I’m on your side of the debate about the future and our response. I just worry that ideologues like the folks at the Sun will delay action until it’s too late.

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