The Shallowness of Environmentalism

You’d think incredibly harsh laws designed to protect the planet would—you know—protect the planet. But that’s not typically the case.

Sometimes, caring for the environment requires making important sacrifices. Far more often, however, the calls to action we’re told will save the planet spawn needlessly inconvenient laws with little if any benefit. That’s the case with this new campaign to ban plastic straws.

Last month, Santa Barbara made national news and invited not a little bit of ridicule by passing an ordinance which could send restaurant employees to jail for up to six months for giving out plastic straws.

Seattle has also sipped this environmental Kool-Aid, imposing a $250 fine on straw-distributing outlaws. Not to be outdone, San Francisco’s city council voted unanimously to adopt a similar ban. Other efforts to criminalize plastic straws are underway in New York City, Portland, and Washington, D.C.

Now, even if we think the penalties are ridiculous, a case can be made for serious steps that would stop an environmental crisis. That case cannot be made here, however.

Among the problems with the modern environmental movement is it is majoring in the minors. Environmental activists and legislators obsess over trivial life choices that have little real impact on the earth, but which give the appearance of eco-friendliness. Choices like the type of car you drive, the shoes you wear, the coffee you drink most often represent “virtue-signaling,” the tendency to value appearance over action.

And make no mistake, bans on straws with fines that are fit for grand theft are the epitome of appearance over action. As Katherine Timpf at National Review points out, straws represent just 0.02 percent, or 1/5000th of the total plastic waste entering the world’s oceans. When you consider the fact that the U.S. is responsible for only one percent of that total, the idea that a San Francisco Starbucks is going to sell the straw that breaks the planet’s back is laughable.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet And G. Shane Morris

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