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Mike's Minute: Banning plastic bags little more than PR stunt

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 14 August 2018, 6:58AM

Surely there is an irony, from an environmental point of view, that the government takes 56 pages, lord knows how many times in terms of copies, to tell us they're banning plastic bags.

You're either banning them or you aren't. This is virtue signalling, this is what we do these days, this is our answer to a so-called catastrophe.

If the scientists are right, their latest prediction just last week was the most alarmist we have heard yet. Even if we meet the targets we have agreed to in terms of reduction of emissions, which of course we won't, we are all doomed anyway.

Vast swathes, they say, of the planet will be uninhabitable.

Which is also not true, why? Because science will save us. Science and modern advancement have saved us for hundreds of thousands of years. It's why we don’t live in caves.

I'm sure if they had scientists and press releases a few hundred thousand years ago, they would've been saying we just can't go on clubbing animals to death forever and these cave things have a limited shelf life. We need more caves, the infrastructure is getting too strained.

Anyway, we apparently are all doomed, so banning a few plastic bags from PAK'nSAVE isn't going to make a lot of difference.

And here's the other irony of all this, it isn't actually the plastic bags that are the end of the world, it's what we do with them.

We throw them away, not in a controlled, useful, or practical way, but into streets, rivers, drains, sewers, and the sea. And that is why we get upset about it all.

The fish that die, the animals that are maimed, the streets that are littered, that's what upsets us.

But crime there is not the bag, but the human action that put the bag there.

Litter is your problem, not a bag.

But that's all a bit tricky for us these days.

In a world of do-gooders who love a headline more than they love a genuine solution, none of that matters.

What matters is looking like you are doing something, the same way signing the Kyoto Protocol looked like we were doing something.

The only thing we were actually doing was fooling ourselves because the simple truth is we like the idea of environmental change, just as long as it's not too inconvenient.

Will banning plastic bags help? It won't hurt.

It's not a step backwards, it's not making things worse. But let's be honest, it's not token but it's pretty damn close.

Of all the stuff that damages the environment plastic bags aren't your biggest issue. Of all the rubbish, plastic bags aren't top of the pile.

What's tops of the pile though is too hard, so it’s the bags that are your virtue signalling prize winners for now.

So let's learn to love jute.

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