January 13, 2008A recent New York Times article reads: “If you're one of the many New Yorkers who worry about throwing away plastic bags but seem only to acquire more and more, then help is on the way.”
Yes! It's New York City bureaucracy to the rescue! A city whose budget has already been drained by expensive—and not necessarily energy efficient—attempts to collect, sort, and recycle glass bottles to save sand now wants to tackle the terrible guilt New Yorkers suffer from using plastic bags. But rather than collect the bags themselves, the city council voted to force retailers to do the job. So this time, the cost will come as higher prices rather than higher taxes. What will New Yorkers...
January 10, 2008The Chinese have allegedly decided to "clean up their act" environmentally speaking. Their solution: ban plastic bags at supermarkets and make shopping less convenient. You can get away with such silly regulation in a communist country ... or places like San Francisco, which banned the bags in 2007. Ironically, while such bans might sound like no-brainer green policies, the environmental benefits are questionable. A study conducted well over a decade past clearly demonstrated that plastic bags have lots of virtues, such as being far more energy efficient than paper. They take up less space in a landfill and are much easier to carry! Of course, you don't have to switch to paper, you can move to reusable cloth. However, cloth bags are much more expensive for a reason—they...
January 3, 2008
I really hate to be morbid—but I can't help but comment on a few news items that I came across on the "greening" of death. These items show the depths of green insanity that seems to have enveloped the world. One reports on regulators in one Colorado community that want crematories pull teeth out of corpses to prevent cremation of bodies with mercury fillings or install very expensive filters to prevent the mercury emissions. The underlying idea for such a crazy mandate—that such low levels of mercury poses any public health risk—is absurd. But the proposed "alternative" to the filters is beyond grotesque and downright disrespectful to the dead. I was going to hold my tongue and not comment until I came...
December 14, 2007“â€˜Tomorrow is Christmas! It's practically here!' Then he [the Grinch] growled, with his grinch fingers nervously drumming, I MUST find a way to keep Christmas from coming! â€¦ that old Grinch was so smart and so slick. He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick!” ~Dr. Suess, from The Grinch that Stole Christmas.
The greens may not be able to steal all the joy of Christmas, but some apparently don't mind trying. One group of environmental activists has launched a new website called "HealtyToys.org," to take advantage of fear created by recent recalls of Chinese toys. They scare parents needlessly—raising unwarrented questions about the safety of a host of toys.
They claim to have scientifically measured “dangerous” chemicals in a wide...
November 29, 2007Apparently California attorney General Jerry Brown believes that bureaucracy is the answer to alleged environmental woes. He and ten other state attorney generals have launched a lawsuit against the Bush Administration for trying to cut a little bit of bureaucratic red tape for America's small business. At issue is Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to reduce paperwork for small companies that contribute a total of less than 1 percent of "releases" under the Toxics Release Inventory. Jerry Brown complains in today's in The Los Angeles Times about such changes, whining: "As we swim in this chemical soup that modern society serves up, we certainly have a right to know what we are encountering."
What a bunch of bunk! As...
November 27, 2007An interesting article in today's Washington Post highlights the trade-offs and market realities associated with green products. It addresses the packaging challenges faced by organic ice tea maker, Honest Tea. The company employs a variety of measures to keep energy costs and environmental impacts of its packaging low. As a result, Honest Tea comes in plastic bottles.
While most people simply assume that plastic packaging is worse than allegedly more recyclable glass when it comes to environmental concerns, this piece shows that even the greenest of companies find plastic is better in many cases. Indeed, it's lighter and easier to transport, which saves energy. Plastic is also cheaper because it takes less energy to make. And, of course, retailers like plastic because it...
November 13, 2007Target is replacing its PVC shower curtains with vinyl curtains. Whew, I feel so much safer now! Not really. The move is part of a plan to remove PVC plastic products from the store, following the lead of Target competitors -- Wal-Mart and Toys R' Us.
All seek to appease radical green groups, who have attacked vinyl products based on specious claims about risks. Green activists allege that PVC poses a host of risks ranging from birth defects, cancer, to early puberty. Yet there is no definitive body of scientific research demonstrating any of these impacts in real world situations, and there is no data showing that the alternatives are less risky. Check out this Steve Milloy article on the topic and CEI's paper on PVC.
November 12, 2007While unapologetic free-marketers can enjoy the fruits of their labors (small or large) guilt free, the rich on the left have to find ways to soothe their consciences, especially when they have massive consumption habits. For some—like Al Gore and John Kerry—that means buying "carbon offsets." For others—like Jay Leno—it means sinking gobs of money (albeit, still a small fraction of their incomes) into green technologies.
According to Jay Leno, "If you want to keep living the way you're living, then, hey, you better make your own electricity." In a Los Angeles Times article, he explains how he shoveled out $450,000 for solar panels generate just 41 percent of the energy he uses to run air conditioning and power tools in his "Big Dog Garage." Leno's 17,000...
November 5, 2007Yet another study is out suggesting that air pollution is a considerable risk to our health, as highlighted in today's Washington Post. This time researchers say if you eat right, exercise, and don't smoke, your highest cancer risk may come from the chemicals you breath in on your drive home from work--especially if you live in traffic-laden Los Angeles.
Certainly, exposure to very high levels of air pollution can pose serious risks. In fact, high air pollution in developing nations is a serious health problem because wood/cow dung is often burned inside rudimentary residential structures that often lack venting devices like chimneys. But that's a far cry from the pollution levels anywhere in the United States. At best researchers make the claim that U.S. pollution...
October 30, 2007In Today's Washington Post, Cindy Skrzycki reports on Devra Davis's book The Secret History of the War on Cancer. According to Skrzycki, Davis asserts that “10 million cancer deaths could have been avoided over the past 30 years had it not been for industry opposition to good science and regulatory inaction by the U.S. government."
Wow! There's the answer we all have been looking for! If we want to get rid of cancer, we simply need to cede more power to bureaucrats in governments around the world! Not really; if only it were that easy. Governments are as likely (actually much less likely!) to save us from cancer as they are likely produce world peace.
That is, of course, a key problem with Davis's assumptions, but it isn't the only one. An epidemiologist by trade...