Opinion: Don’t ban plastics. They help green the Earth

Financial Post

Plastic protects our food, reduces food waste and helps produce a lot more food a lot more efficiently — and therefore more cheaply — than was possible a few decades ago. PHOTO BY GAVIN YOUNG/POSTMEDIA FILES

Plastics aren’t perfect, but if handled properly they are better and greener than substitute products made of plants and animals

According to many environmentalists, coal, petroleum and natural gas, together with the fuels, lubricants and myriad other products these fossil fuels make possible, help drive widespread environmental problems. As journalist and activist Murray Dobbin put it a few years ago, the «ever-increasing production and use of fossil fuels will, over time, kill billions of us and irreversibly change all life on the planet.» Taking its cue from the likes of Dobbin, the Trudeau government wants to designate all plastic manufactured items — not just straws! — as «toxic.» Surely such a bold move is justified in light of how terrible things have become for humans and their planet.

We are born and live surrounded by plastics and countless machines created with and powered by fossil fuels. There’s now nearly eight billion of us, with the vast majority of people living much longer and more prosperous lives than the one billion people who were around when coal use took off two centuries ago. Moreover, the richer we are, the greener most parts of the planet become.

More people, more industry, more food, more consumption and a greener planet? How can this be? Easy. Indeed, refined petroleum products , synthetic products , metals, sand, clay, silicon, potash and phosphate have gradually reduced the demand for: wild fauna such as whales , birds , elephants, polar bears, alligators and other wild animals , trees and other plants , agricultural products , work animals such as horses, mules and oxen and the large quantities of food they consume and, finally, human labour in various forms .

His large-scale substitution allowed our ancestors to, in the words of historical demographer E. A. Wrigley, «break free from photosynthesis» and become independent from the soil.

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Source: Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Szurmak(Special to Financial Post) | Financial Post 

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