Greens Grasping at Your Straws

Progress going backwards.

This past weekend I patronized a restaurant chain owned by a tycoon well known for his environmentalist activism.  As you'd expect, the food was of good quality; whether it was truly "all natural" or not I couldn't say, but it certainly tasted a far cry from, say, McDonald's.  It was all good, that is, until I got to my beverage.

I was given a most unusual straw with which to sip my lemonade.  It was not the customary plastic straw we've all used to fire spitballs, oh no.  It was made out of what appeared to be wax-coated cardboard, prominently stamped as "Earth Friendly!"

Well, it might have been friendly to the Earth; but it made the lemonade taste like dirt.  If I'd wanted to drink a cardboard-flavored concoction I'd've ordered one.

Now, you might think I could just drink it straight from the glass the old-fashioned way, and you'd be right; it's not like there are no other ways to get wet stuff down the hatch.  But there are good reasons drinking straws have been popular ever since Marvin Stone invented the first one in 1888: they're convenient, less prone to spills, and a sterile way to share a drink.  Why must we sacrifice such a useful innovation on the altar of environmentalism?

The drinking straw is far from the first step backwards that the greens want to force on us.  In 1994, our federal government took it upon itself to interfere in the private goings-on of America's bathrooms and banned the traditional flush toilet.  Thereafter, all toilets were to be "low-flow", the better to save water.

Well, as anyone who has lived in a house built in the years following that ill-fated decision can attest, the low-flow flush toilets simply don't.  At least not if there's anything of any substance in them.

If they're being asked to swallow only liquid, they work just fine; but that's not the purpose of a toilet.  You have to flush, and flush, and flush again to get those Federally-approved johns to swallow the goods - wasting more water, in fact, than if you'd just used the old traditional toilet which did it right the first time.

The Canadians, wiser than we, have no such ban, and I'm told encouraged a flourishing trade of smuggling toilets across the border.  It's not illegal to have a normal toilet, you understand, just to manufacture or sell one.  You can drive up to Canada and buy one for your own home if you like, and many did, increasing carbon footprint by lots of useless driving around.

Time marches on, and the technology has improved somewhat; the modern generation of low-flow toilets seems to mostly work.  But for a decade, Americans were forced to suffer on the throne in order to bow at the altar of environmentalism.  When in American history has a step backwards been viewed as progress?

Now this is not to say that we should be wasteful.  Boeing's new plastic airplane, the 787, is a superb example of using technology to protect both our comforts and the environment.  When it's finished, the 787 will offer all the usual accouterments of air travel as well as a couple of new ones while being as much as 20% more fuel efficient than planes currently flying.  Now that's the way to help people and the planet.

That sort of productive solution isn't good enough for true-blue environmentalists.  The Guardian reports:

People will have to be rationed to four modest portions of meat and one litre of milk a week if the world is to avoid run-away climate change, a major new report warns.  The report, by the Food Climate Research Network, based at the University of Surrey, also says total food consumption should be reduced, especially "low nutritional value" treats such as alcohol, sweets and chocolates.  [emphasis added]

Convincing people to use less is perfectly fine.  There's nothing the least bit wrong about environmentalists attempting to persuade people that "small is beautiful."

The problem is that they've realized mere words aren't going to accomplish their goals; to "save the planet," they call for the government to forcibly control how much you eat, just as the US government forcibly controls what type of toilet you may use and California wants to forbid Edison's electric lightbulb.

They've forbidden fever thermometers that use mercury, completely disregarding the fact that the ounces of mercury from broken thermometers are dwarfed by the tons contained within the twisty fluorescent bulbs they want us to use.  Environmentalists are blocking new coal-fired electric generating plants on grounds of carbon emissions and nuclear plants that emit no carbon at all; they want us to freeze in the dark.  No free marketplace of ideas here, just force!

It doesn't ever seem to matter whether the changes truly make a difference.  Does a cardboard straw use less energy or pollute less than a plastic one?  Not when you have to use three straws instead of one because they fall apart!

Does a low-flow toilet use less water?  Not when you have to flush it three times to do the job!  The sacrifices demanded by environmentalists may sound good, but all too often they have no practical purpose.  They are sacrifice for the sake of sacrifice - nothing more.

In other words, modern environmentalism is not science.  There are scientific aspects to it, no doubt; but for most of its adherents, environmentalism is a religion like any other.

The god they worship demands sacrifice, not as practical steps to accomplish a useful goal, but simply to demonstrate submission to the power of the new religion.  Like so many phony religious movements of the past, sacrifices are only required of the little people; leaders like Al Gore, are of such great importance to the movement that their own pollution is acceptable.  After all, Gore has done so much good for the planet that his vast mansion, fuel-guzzling yacht, private jet, and idling limousines are a small price to pay to hear his profound wisdom...

Will we all be forced to bow before this new god?  We've already been forced to make many sacrifices and both our presidential candidates want to force us to make more, by taxing carbon dioxide emissions in the name of climate change.

As Patrick Buchanan put it, "Everything starts out as a rebellion, then becomes a movement, then a business, and finally becomes a racket."  The United States is not supposed to have an established religion, but it looks more and more like it does; the religion of Earth worship has become a business, and is heading towards becoming a compulsory racket.

Better stock up on plastic straws while you still can.

Kermit Frosch is a guest writer for  Read other articles by Kermit Frosch or other articles on Environment.
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