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PlasticNews.com asks us to "Join a debate on plastic ban bans". Starting their post with:
"Are plastic grocery bags "deadly and costly," or is their harm "overblown"? That's a question The Wall Street Journal is asking readers today, as part of a report it calls "Big Issues."
The newspaper has a point/counterpoint pair of editorials in a special section today -- Daniella Dimitrova Russo of the Plastic Pollution Coalition makes the case for bans, while Todd Myers of the Washington Policy Center makes a case for the defense of plastic bags."
And concluding that "It seems to me that the WSJ's columns today are performing a valuable service, summing up fairly effectively the arguments in favor and against bag bans. After reading both columns, I see points that critics could pick apart pretty effectively, and in fact that's already started in the comment section online."
I agree that this is an important conversation. But the nine comments available so far after the WSJ article, summed up below, aren't very helpful to the conversation.
From them, you'd might conclude that:
1) Plastic and our access to it is somehow being disallowed its "freedom". I think plastic has enjoyed unlimited "freedom" to be bought and sold globally, freedom to float, and freedom to pollute for its 100 year history. Hence, our need for a collective response to plastic pollution showing up where it doesn't belong and where it's doing damage. Legal bans, fees, taxes, incentives, mass cleanups, education campaigns and better new materials are among the market-based, democratic responses I'm in favor of experimenting with. The status quo isn't a very good option.
3) Wall Street Journal readers and commenters suggest those of us who care about human and environmental health are "red", "extreme". "activist", "control freaks". Come over for a cup of coffee (on me) and a walk along the beach and we'll chat about that one while we pick up plastic pollution!
4) Wall Street Journal readers suggest these "extreme" positions are based on emotion, not science. Well, no and yes. There is no reason without emotion (you can check with the neuroscientists on that). And there is a growing mountain of peer reviewed science dating back to 1972 documenting concerns about plastic pollution in the ocean, in our bodies, in wildlife...places where no body wants it. Use Google Scholar and search the phrase "plastic pollution". What's surprising is that 40 years later we're still debating on blogs about an adequate response, as the problem worsens.
5) When one tries to register to comment on the WSJ article, a prompt asking for credit card info comes up. My guess is that none of those red/green/enviro/extremists find it appealing to pay to comment. Hence the 9-0 tally in favor of plastic bags. ; )
6) I know many Wall Street Journal readers (and their kids) who LOVE sea turtles, everyone does! Let's work together to find real solutions, using real facts, to this plastic pollution problem.
Thanks to the WSJ for almost providing a forum for this (side) conversation!
[Update: Thank to Cheryl M. McCormick, Ph.D. for providing comment #10, helping the poorly informed WallStreet Journal readers with some important but disturbing facts and findings]
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