Opinion: Science versus convenience

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

This week, the ban on issuance of plastic bags in supermarkets and other stores went into effect in New York State. It is inconvenient, to say the least. Customers must now either bring their own reusable bags or deal with the more cumbersome paper bags that these retail places will substitute. Yes, life is tough.

But science has proven that the billions of plastic bags in circulation poses a serious threat to our environment. They are not biodegradable. And when they inevitably find their way into our water systems, lakes, rivers, streams and oceans, they do major damage to our already fragile ecosystem. Aquatic life below the waves are choking and suffocating. This carnage to sea life damages the fishing industries. These plastic wraps is also a cause of massive pollution which adversely impacts the environment and us all.

Next year, new regulations are scheduled to be issued which will implement congestion pricing in New York City. It is intended to reduce the number of vehicles entering and clogging Midtown Manhattan. Private vehicles would be charged a new toll when entering the zone. This is intended to be a deterrent to driving in congested areas of Manhattan and instead encourage the use of mass transit.

This too will be very inconvenient or expensive for those persons who are used to motoring into Manhattan for business or pleasure. However, the congestion and pollution caused by these vehicles, especially those that idle in the inevitable gridlock, are causing enormous air pollution and are clogging our transportation arteries. The science is undeniable.

These are some of the relatively small things that New York is doing to combat climate change and the damaging impacts to our environment. It stands in stark contrast to the anti-science regressive posture of the federal government.

Resigning from the Paris Accords, the international cooperative endeavor to slow global warming and climate change, was bad enough. The Trump Administration’s new policies to roll back tough emission standards on cars, promote a new generation of coal mining, and repeal tougher standards on air and water pollution is inexplicable except as it may be convenient when bidding for political support in coal producing states and from big business interests that loathe regulations and limitations on their means of production and profit.

Instead of putting a scientist or medical expert in charge of America’s effort to combat and contain the Coronavirus, President Trump chose his loyal and fawning Vice President with no medical or scientific background. If anything Vice President Pence has proven to be hostile to science based facts. Rather, it seems that his role is to vet and control the dissemination of any bad news which might reflect poorly on this Administration. For that he is eminently qualified.

The irony is that the President Trump slashed tens of millions of dollars from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health and limited their independent scope to advance public health and safety. A case in point is these agencies are now forbidden from conducting any studies documenting gun violence as a national health threat at the behest of the National Rifle Association. Enough said!

Now the CDC with depleted resources is being tasked with coordinating efforts to find a cure for this virus before it takes a toll on American lives. This administration, which has opposed global cooperation when dealing with problems that transcend national borders, now sees this health crisis as a threat to winning re-election if they appear unprepared or unable to respond to this pandemic, so they are mobilizing for their political survival. Too bad they don’t show the same concern about the long term survival of our planet.

It will take some degree of sacrifice and mutual cooperation from the international community to mitigate global disasters. Modern communication, transportation and commerce has forever altered the nature of multi-national intercourse. No longer can fortresses, moats, oceans or even walls keep a country safe and separate from the rest of the world.

Sadly a President who believes in “America Only” is lost in a time warp.

11 thoughts on “Opinion: Science versus convenience

  1. Kind of like John Kennedy’s stupid choice of putting LBJ in charge of the space program….and what a catastrophe that was!!! Politicians never learn!

    (Oh, wait…)

  2. And the Mr. Sanders may want to check his facts before he perpetuates an ongoing falsehood: before the COVID19 gained any, the president did, indeed, propose a cut in the CDC for Fiscal 2021 (i.e., October 1, 2020 to Septmber 30, 2021). No cuts in the CDC have yet been made.

    • A dozen cloth bags has the same carbon footprint as almost a quarter million plastic bags. Why would anyone who is SERIOUSLY concerned about this even touch a cloth bag?

  3. “But science has proven that the billions of plastic bags in circulation poses a serious threat to our environment.”

    Fake news. Show the proof.

    “Next year, new regulations are scheduled to be issued which will implement congestion pricing in New York City. ”

    More fake news as the feds have put a hold on this as the roads are paid for with federal money. Contact President Trump and let him know you support his brilliant action!

    One cotton re-usable bag has the same carbon footprint as 20,000 plastic bags. It would take the average person 55 years of using a plastic bag per day to be as bad for the environment as 1 cotton bag and plastic is sanitary while those cotton bags have increased emergency room visits for food borne illnesses dramatically, so plastic bags are much safer too. In these times when we are concerned about sanitary conditions and safety clearly plastic bags are the way to go.This is just another LIBERAL TAX on the poor. Good news is one can get 1000 bags for $18 (or less than 2 cents per bag) on Amazon with free shipping. Another bad point of this is the increase in delivery boxes that people are getting from their online orders since going to the store has become more inconvenient. The negatives far outweigh the positives of this new law. Combine this with the lunacy of congestion pricing and you can understand why the exodus from NY city and state has just started to pick up steam and the 200 people who leave per day will soon skyrocket to 500 per day. This state was killed by the likes of Steven Sanders. If you want to live in a growing state, you’ll have to move South, like the 900 people per day who move into Florida. The coronavirus will force many companies to realize that crowded cities like NY are not in the best interests of their workforce and they will start to open more offices outside large population centers or allow workers to work remotely in which case why would anyone reside in NY when they can get 10 to 100 times more for their money elsewhere?

    The Paris accords were nothing more than capitulation by the ever bowing to others Obama. More praise for President Trump for undoing that potential disaster.

  4. The bag “ban” (a misnomer since they’re perfectly legal to buy and use) is extremely unpopular – all I hear from friends, neighbors and co-workers is grumbling. And congestion pricing, if it ever comes to be, will be even more so.

    I’m a lifelong NY Democrat, but our electeds often go too far and push voters in a decidedly blue state into the other camp on election day. Google Pataki, Guiliani, Bloomberg.

    Wait and see…

  5. Grow up and carry a reuseable bag! Overcome the laziness that informs your desire for a nasty easily tattered soon to be caught in the tree branches plastic bag!

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