Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Quote Of The Day: Enviro's Albatross Edition

“The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence. This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive."
-- Lord Taverne

Unfortunately, Lord Taverne is not talking about government's full-blown buying of global warming hysteria, the the story of what set Taverne off is illustrative of the power the Greenie/MSM alliance wields. Here's the story (London Times via Greenie Watch):
Scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims.

The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.
Here comes the paragraph on how stupid Lefty politicians are when it comes to Green Hype:
Gordon Brown announced last month that he would force supermarkets to charge for the bags, saying that they were “one of the most visible symbols of environmental waste”. Retailers and some pressure groups, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England, threw their support behind him.
Buy why?
But scientists, politicians and marine experts attacked the Government for joining a “bandwagon” based on poor science. ...

Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals.

They “don’t figure” in the majority of cases where animals die from marine debris, said David Laist, the author of a seminal 1997 study on the subject. Most deaths were caused when creatures became caught up in waste produce. “Plastic bags don’t figure in entanglement,” he said. “The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands. Most mammals are too big to get caught up in a plastic bag.”

He added: “The impact of bags on whales, dolphins, porpoises and seals ranges from nil for most species to very minor for perhaps a few species. For birds, plastic bags are not a problem either.”
You've heard the stat about the gazillions of species that go extinct each year (here's the myth ... here's the reality), or how many square miles of Brazilian rainforest disappears in the blink of an eye (here's a story that says it's disappearing at a rate of 9,000 square miles a year, and here's one that says the rate is 55,000 square miles a year).

Here's the key behind all of these fatalistic overstatements:
The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.
Some environmental group on a fund-raising binge seized on the study, misstated it (honest mistake or deliberate manipulation?)and spread the word ... and the MSM, which loses all journalistic integrity and fawns over every word from the Greenies and "environmental scientists," can be counted on to spread it ... so teachers can pass it along to our next generation ... and politicians can "solve" the problem by imposing regulations and raising our cost of living.

And it just keeps happening and happening, again and again.

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