Latest reader comments

  • Reply to: Sunday News: From the Editorial pages   5 hours 35 min ago

    Before I get into our obsession with single-use plastics, let's get a few things straight. The Left/Right dichotomy trends toward the separation of collective actions vs. individual actions, but this is (just one more) false premise. We need both to solve many of our problems, and that is especially applicable when it comes to environmental challenges. One without the other is a masturbatory exercise that will get us nowhere, so let's proceed with that in mind.

    We are all aware (or should be, anyway) of the horrific environmental effects of plastics; our oceans have become the dumping ground for them, with massive plastic floating "islands" and a great deal of our fish and bird species being inundated with micro-plastics that have broken down from such containers. It's much worse than you probably think, and we are all responsible for it. That's me, and you, and not some nebulous multi-national corporation.

    But that is the end result, which isn't the entire horror story.

    Most consumer plastics are petrochemical in nature, and not necessarily byproducts of such. For years plastic makers have pushed that narrative, the "Oh well, we're already drilling for energy purposes, might as well make the best of it." In reality, crude oil, coal, and natural gas are being extracted in many cases specifically to feed the plastics industry.

    "But Steve, I thought you said it was our fault, and not the corporations?"

    That's right, because we keep buying and using that shit. If there was no market for it, they would stop. Try to keep up here.

    In addition to the carbon emissions inherent in the extraction of fossil fuels for plastic manufacture (I've mentioned fugitive Methane enough times you should have memorized it by now), the actual refining is also a huge emission source. The cracking of alkanes into alkenes requires high temperatures (1000 degrees), and both the extreme heat and the action itself release hydrocarbons, to the tune of about 300 million metric tons per year. So before you even touch it, that plastic has already attacked our planet's atmosphere vigorously. And if you touch it only once, instead of as many times as it can be used, you are literally facilitating the destruction of our planet.

    So let's talk about usage. Bottled water is a huge problem, for several reasons. This year (2021) some 500 Billion will be made and sold worldwide, and a big chunk of those are not necessary, because some 75% of the world's population have safe (clean) water delivered to their homes. Aside from a few isolated situations, your tap water is more than just "fine," it is possibly more pure than that case of Dasani you just bought. If you need reassurance, throw a water filter on your faucet, and/or have your water tested. But not by some company that wants to take over your municipal water supply. And you can check your local system's required reported data as well.

    The bottom line: We do need to take collective action to (seriously) reduce the manufacturing and usage of single-use plastics, but we also need to drastically modify our (individual) consumer behavior. I don't need to remind you what's at stake.

  • Reply to: Friday News: Leadership vacuum   2 days 9 min ago

    I find it very difficult to tie the word "leadership" with anything representing today's Republican party, which is nothing more than a cross between Nazism and Fascism. Even its members are too stupid to realize that.

  • Reply to: Friday News: Leadership vacuum   2 days 21 hours ago

    of "children". He is the president of the UNC university system which, last I checked, oversaw the education of young people who are by and large 18 or older (with some rare exceptions.) Those young (or not so young) people are, by every legal definition, adults, including for the purposes of FDA approval of vaccines. He could mandate vaccines for them to attend a UNC school right now without violating the law one bit. K-12 school districts around the state may not be able to mandate vaccines for students right now because of this legal loophole, but UNC does not have the same impediment. He needs to grow a spine and do what needs to be done instead of hiding behind a legal fig leaf that doesn't even cover his tiny little...justification.

  • Reply to: Thursday News: IOKIYAR   3 days 20 min ago

    A self-absorbed liar through and through.

  • Reply to: Thursday News: IOKIYAR   3 days 21 hours ago

    Madiosn Cawthorn has the mentality of a houseplant. Actually, the houseplant is smarter.