Michael Bloomberg made himself known as “America’s Nanny” by trying to ban everything from trans fats to large sodas in New York, but the real paternalistic police in America are the radical greens, who want to take away any product from your life that has even the smallest chance of affecting the environment, no matter how helpful or harmless that product may be.
The list of absurd things fringe environmentalists would like the government to ban reaches well into the hundreds, but here are eleven of the green movement’s most popular and puzzling targets.
1. Plastic Bags
Perhaps the most prominent target of environmentalists, plastic bags are an everyday convenience that radical activists have successfully banned in dozens of cities across America. Plastic bags are light, flexible, reusable, and can be made for a fraction of the cost of cloth or paper bags. They’ve made grocery shopping and trash disposal easier, and they’ve helped small businesses cut down on overhead costs. Yet they’re often the first domino to fall when greens gain control of a local government, and plastic bag bans can be a gateway to even more inane nanny statism.
2. Antibacterial Soap
A fringe legal advocacy group called the Natural Resources Defense Council has made a good business out of opposing useful, benign everyday products for absurd reasons. Flea collars, flame-retardant furniture, and even shampoo have made their way onto the NRDC’s target list, but the group’s crusade took a turn for the dangerous when they began advocating for the government to crack down on antibacterial hand soap.
Hand soap can be bought for a dollar at drugstores and has been proven effective at eliminating millions of the most common foodborne bacterial infections. A standard bottle of soap can kill E. coli, salmonella, MRSA, and other potentially fatal bacteria. But the NRDC has its hands on a scientifically shady study and other vague “new information” that it claims prove that hand soap is an environmental menace rife with threats to humans, wildlife, and the water supply. President Obama’s FDA naturally heeded the group’s demands and proposed a rule that would subject hand soap to rigorous regulation.
3. Flame Retardant Furniture
Imagine your home catching on fire and every single one of your possessions burning to ash. It’s a very real fear–but one that’s less real than it was 40 years ago, thanks to a steady decline in home fires since the 1970’s. This decline in destructive fires coincided with the introduction of flame-retardant chemicals, which are now commonly found in furniture and home building materials. These retardants prevent household items from engulfing in flames, containing fires that half a century ago would have immediately turned a room into a furnace.
Environmentalists, naturally, care less about the CO2 your home would emit as it burns to the ground than about the vague “effects” flame retardants may or may not have on people and the ecosystem. California recently banned several types of flame retardant chemicals after a scare campaign convinced parents that fire-safe furniture would harm their children. It seems like a safe bet, however, that your flame-retardant couch poses less of a threat to your family than fire does.
4. Bottled Water
A niche product a few generations ago, bottled water is now as much a staple of the modern American grocery cart as bread, milk, and eggs. With a nationwide fitness craze underway, doctors recommending eight glasses of water per day, and the nanny lobby successfully steering consumers away from sugary drinks, we’re guzzling H2O like never before, with the average American consuming 222 bottles of water per year. The convenience and accessibility of bottled water allows people to refuel on the go without packing on the calories of energy drinks.
The green fringe hasn’t yet reached the point where it’s advocating for a ban on water (although that day may come), but activists in Concord, MA, convinced the town to outlaw sales of plastic water bottles, arguing that too few bottles are recycled and that bottled water costs more than tap water. Now, residents of the town that saw one of the first battles of the American Revolution find themselves among the first casualties of a much more futile war.
As Elton John sang, “Butterflies are free to fly away, high away.” But, if San Francisco’s resident green activists had their way, butterflies wouldn’t enjoy such freedoms much longer.
Couples often release butterflies at their weddings to invoke some sort of zen connection with nature. The butterflies fly off to live out their lives, a thought which horrifies environmentalists, who believe the practice threatens the future of the insect species.
6. Safe Children’s Toys
Save our children from phthalates! When a little-known chemical has a scary, unpronounceable name, it’s easy for fringe groups to persuade people to ban it. Thus, few people are instinctively opposed to the idea of banning phthalates from toys designed for children. How could such a menacingly-named chemical be safe for your tot?
Of course, toys with phthalates are far safer than toys without them. The chemicals are added to plastics to make them stronger and less breakable, reducing the likelihood that a child will be able to snap a toy and be exposed to sharp plastic shards and fragments that present a choking hazard. If parents aren’t willing to do their homework, they may end up signing on to an asinine campaign that will only put their children at risk.
Roundup does one thing, and does it well–killing weeds. With one thorough application of the herbicide spray, you can clear out unwanted vegetation from your garden and give flowers and vegetables more room to grow. Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate, has never been found to have any harmful side effects on humans, pets, or any other living thing besides plants.
That isn’t enough, however, for British environmentalists, who want the herbicide banned. Their rationale? “In Denmark, Roundup is banned.” And don’t those Danish weeds look happy?
8. Safe Affordable Energy
Hydraulic fracturing technology has made previously inaccessible natural gas, thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, readily available as a fuel source, creating jobs and lowering utility bills. From once-dying steel towns in rural Pennsylvania to 21st century frontier boomtowns like Williston, ND, fracking is changing lives for the better and even helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as natural gas is the cleanest-burning of the three fossil fuels.
But this hasn’t stopped the greens from shouting “No!” New York has a long-standing moratorium on fracking despite a wealth of gas lying beneath the economically depressed Upstate, and radicals in California are protesting a highly restrictive fracking bill authored by an environmental champion because they don’t believe it goes far enough.
9. Food Science
Global hunger has many causes, but one is simple supply and demand: the world just can’t grow and transport enough food to adequately nourish its neediest inhabitants. Because fresh food tends to spoil before it can travel long distances, an awkward dichotomy exists where nations like the US pay farmers not to farm while over 800 million people live in hunger. But what if science could make food stronger and keep it fresher, longer? What if science could adapt food-bearing plants so that they could grow closer to areas of extreme hunger? What if science could make foods healthier and more nutrient-rich?
Science, of course, can do all of the above, through genetic modification. The green left, naturally, opposes this potential humanitarian development of the century despite no evidence suggesting that GMOs are somehow harmful to humans.
10. Leaf Blowers
Just outside our nation’s capital is the tree-lined suburb of Takoma Park, Maryland, which has repeatedly made headlines as a progressive utopia–most famously declaring itself a “Nuclear Weapons Free Zone.” And after taking down nukes, the city’s environmentalists set their sights on a far more threatening suburban menace.
Thirty green activists sent a letter to the Takoma Park City Council requesting that leaf blowers be banned in the name of all that is good and decent (or as they termed it, “the quality of air and life.”) The city’s mayor declined to take a stand against these apparently dangerous weapons, perhaps because he admits to using a leaf blower to clean up his own roof.
President, patriot, and statesman John Adams wrote that the Fourth of July “ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.” Green moonbats in San Diego would prefer to celebrate the Fourth by reminding you what an evil person you are for enjoying a fireworks display.
Many cities and states have banned fireworks sales to individuals for safety reasons, but San Diego’s tree huggers are seeking “vindication for the environment” by suing to stop municipalities from lighting fireworks to celebrate the Fourth. Thus far, they have succeeded in getting fireworks displays regulated under California’s oppressive environmental regulations, needlessly adding thousands of dollars to the taxpayers’ bill each time a city lights up the sky.
The environmental movement attacks our freedoms legislatively, running issue campaigns to pressure legislators into banning “dangerous” products and convince us that we can get along just fine without these things. But that isn’t the point–the government shouldn’t be telling the rest of us how to live our lives at the whim of a small minority of radical activists.