Where ever you are in the world nowadays, there is increasing pressure to be “green”. When I was a kid, saying someone was “green” meant that they were naïve or innocent. Now, it means that you are trying to be environmentally friendly by reducing your carbon footprint – no tree hugging required.
We all know about using less power and reusing or recycling stuff, but I wonder how valid all the arguments are. I’m not saying that global warming is not happening, or that it is not our fault. I just wonder about some of the measures we are encouraged to adopt. For example, here are a couple of “facts”:
- plastic carrier bags are a Bad Thing
- biodegradable bags are better
I think these need closer scrutiny …
First off, a history lesson:
Millions of years ago, the Earth’s atmosphere was unbreathable [for us]; the carbon dioxide level was very high and the proportion of oxygen far too low. The majority of life was vegetable. Big trees grew and, while they lived, photosynthesized – took in carbon dioxide and released oxygen. When the trees died, they fell over and just lay there, as the bugs that would nowadays cause them to decay had not yet evolved. So when more trees died, they fell on top. This went on for millions of years and the fallen trees got flattened and pressured and buried, forming coal, oil and natural gas. The atmosphere’s oxygen level gradually rose, as the carbon was locked up underground. Eventually, its composition became the healthy mix that is the air that we breath today.
Everything was fine until some stupid folks [that is all of us, by the way] came along and dug up the “locked” carbon and released it into the air again [by burning it]. So, now the carbon dioxide levels are going up.
We need to get that carbon locked up again. The trees cannot help us because, when they die, they decay and that releases the carbon again. So we need another mechanism to lock up the carbon. There are many suggested technologies, but I think there is a very simple one: plastic + landfill.
We need to make as much plastic stuff as possible and, when we have used it a bit, put it into landfill, where is will stay, safely locking up the carbon for hundreds of thousands of years. When you next go to the supermarket, just get as many bags as you possibly need and throw them away as soon as you get home. Do not even think of reusing them. You are making your valuable contribution to capturing and storing carbon. Well done!
Incidentally, you must be very careful to avoid biodegradable bags. They are definitely not green, as they decay and release carbon dioxide. And we do not want that.