Anti-plastic Crusaders Stuck Holding the Bag

Posted on March 9, 2008. Filed under: Environmental Whackos, Liberal Idiots, Political Correctness |

This is just more evidence of people reacting to HYPE instead of FACTS. But I bet it won’t stop others from banning plastic just because it makes them FEEL better.

Anti-plastic crusaders stuck holding the bag
Claim 100,000 animals, 1 million seabirds, die each year based on ‘typo’ in 2002 report

Posted: March 09, 2008
3:08 am Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily
Scientists are attacking the global campaign to ban plastic shopping bags, saying the activists’ claim that the modern conveniences are responsible for the deaths of 100,000 animals and one million seabirds is based on a “typo” in a 2002 report and there is no scientific evidence showing the bags pose a direct threat to marine mammals.
Researchers and marine biologists have told the London Times plastic bags pose, at best, a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.
“I’ve never seen a bird killed by a plastic bag,” said Professor Geoff Boxshall, a marine biologist at the London Natural History Museum. “Other forms of plastic in the ocean are much more damaging. Only a very small proportion is caused by bags.”
In November, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban large grocery stores from distributing plastic bags. Santa Monica, Calif., and Connecticut are considering similar bans. Last month, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he would force supermarkets to charge for the bags, calling them “one of the most visible symbols of environmental waste.”
That move has caused a number of UK scientists to criticize the government for jumping on the “bandwagon” without sound science to back up its decision.
Driving the campaign is the claim, found in a 2002 report commissioned by the Australian government, that 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds are killed by ingesting or becoming entangled in plastic bags. The figure was derived from a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland that found 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, killed by discarded fishing nets.
The authors of the 2002 study misquoted the Canadian study which made no mention of plastic bags.
In 2006, four years after the figure had been adopted by anti-plastic campaigners to prove the bags’ danger, the authors altered their report, replacing “plastic bags” with “plastic debris” and admitting in a postscript that the original Canadian study had cited fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the cause of the animals’ deaths.
“The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic bag litter is nearly impossible to determine,” they wrote.
David Santillo, a marine biologist at Greenpeace, agrees.
“It’s very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags,” he said. “The evidence shows just the opposite. We are not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags.
“It doesn’t do the government’s case any favors if you’ve got statements being made that aren’t supported by the scientific literature that’s out there. With larger mammals it’s fishing gear that’s the big problem. On a global basis plastic bags aren’t an issue. It would be great if statements like these weren’t made.”
Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the UK retailer John Lewis, told the Times plastic bags were a small part of the waste problem, despite the attention recently focused on them.
“We don’t see reducing the use of plastic bags as our biggest priority,” he said. “Of all the waste that goes to landfill, 20 percent is household waste and 0.3 percent is plastic bags.”
He added that efforts in Ireland had reduced plastic bag usage, but sales of trashcan liners had increased 400 percent.



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