When I was growing up, paper grocery bags were phased out in favor of plastic. Despite paper bags being biodegradable and made from a renewable resource, we were told we needed to "save the trees." Plastic, we were told, was the environmentally friendly answer.
Now L.A. County is looking at following San Francisco's lead and banning plastic grocery bags, which we're told are harmful to the environment, including marine animals.
This rather reminds me of the warnings on global freezing when I was young, which have morphed into fears of global warming. (I suspect the peach growers of South Carolina and apple growers of North Carolina, among others, would be more inclined to believe in global freezing than global warming right about now.) Back then we were also supposed to be eating margarine, which was healthier than butter. Now, of course, we're supposed to believe that margarine is worse because of the transfats. And so it goes.
The science alarmists just aren't happy unless we're worried about something, it seems.
If there is truly a case to be made for eliminating plastic grocery bags, then I'd like to see the change made through public persuasion and the free market. Oppressive government "bans" on everything from plastic bags to light bulbs to transfats to spanking scare me more than the things from which we are being "protected."
Here in Southern California, our city has a strong recycling program and all our family's plastic bags are recycled. Such a positive option strikes me as far preferable to banning and restricting freedom.
Back on the global warming topic, unfortunately California's Governor Schwarzenegger is now jumping on the latest bandwagon, labeling global warming skeptics "fanatics" who are "in denial."
I'd like to know if Governor Schwarzenegger, whose science credentials are murky to me, honestly thinks that MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen is a fanatic who is in denial. Or any of the eminent professors quoted in the recent series on global warming skepticism in Canada's National Post.
I'm sorry to see the governor belittling those with whom he disagrees, speaking in emotional terms rather than calmly assessing all the available facts on this subject.
I suspect that a couple decades from now we're going to look back on global warming as the Alar scare of its day...and I'll also bet we'll be fretting and worrying over something else.
Update: Don't miss today's Opinion Journal editorial, which has the subheadline "How many politicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
The main point: "...the environmentalists can't make their case through argument and persuasion. Instead, they immediately resort to state coercion..."