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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, August 13, 2018

by William Hamilton, J.D., Ph.D.

Satire warning: Is this the last straw?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, floating halfway between our Left Coast and Hawaii, covers over 600,000 sq. miles, weighs over 88,000 tons, and is two times larger than the State of Texas. It poses a serious environmental threat. Because matter cannot be destroyed, that island of plastic debris needs to be transformed into a different form of matter that is less harmful and maybe even useful.

But, instead of getting behind serious efforts, such as improved on-shore collection and recycling to deal with this threat, elected officials in Seattle and San Francisco declared war on plastic drinking straws which, at most, comprise a small fraction of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of five such patches in the ocean. Such insignificant and mostly symbolic measures give rise to (drum roll) satire!

The National Recyclers Association (NRA) declared: "When plastic straws are outlawed, only the outlaws will have plastic straws." Legislators in Blue States introduced legislation to ban all disposable plastic utensils. Red State legislators countered by introducing legislation to permit the "open carry" of plastic straws. Purple State legislators proposed "concealed carry" plastic-straw permits. But no "open carry." A NRA spokesperson urged inter-state "reciprocity" for both "open carry" and for "concealed carry" permits. The Hospital Association of America asked for an exception for those flexible plastic drinking straws. But the alcoholic beverage industry hailed the banning of plastic drinking straws because using a plastic straw to sip alcoholic beverages causes the drinker to get a more highly concentrated dose of alcohol. Drinkers do not need to buy as much alcohol when they can get more "zip" for the "sip."

In the Blue States, police conducted midnight "no-knock" raids on homes, offices, coffee shops, and restaurants suspected of dispensing plastic drinking straws. First-time offenders paid a $1,000 fine plus one year in jail. To reduce prison overcrowding, the sentences of violent criminals were suspended. In San Francisco and Seattle, police were authorized to "stop and frisk" anyone suspected of being in the plastic-straw cartel.

Private industry, however, was quick to respond with offers of personalized, reusable, metal drinking straws, along with designer drinking-straw cases. Engraving extra. To prevent the spread of disease from contaminated metal straws, medical supply companies offered a variety of germ-killing solvents and even a sterilizing drinking-straw oven for home use.

Meanwhile, the Drinking Straw Historical Association revealed that the plastic drinking straw was invented in 1870 by John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920). Consequently, in the Blue States, statues and portraits of John Wesley Hyatt are being removed and thrown in the trash where they rest along with statues of Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and Confederate Flags. Although of no relation to John Wesley Hyatt, anti-plastic straw activists started a boycott of Hyatt Hotels.

Satire aside, The Ocean Cleanup Project is testing a device to capture chunks of the plastic garbage so ships can drag the garbage ashore for recycling. The device looks like a gigantic, three-sided log boom dangling dozens of fishing nets down below. The device moves more slowly than the garbage patch. That allows the plastic garbage to drift into its nets.

To make a tax-deductible donation to help fund this effort, see: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/fund/.

©2018. William Hamilton.

Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame. In 2015, he was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Nebraska. Dr. Hamilton is the author of The Wit and Wisdom of William Hamilton: the Sage of Sheepdog Hill, Pegasus Imprimis Press (2017). "Central View," can also be seen at: www.central-view.com.

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Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446

Email: drwm.hamilton@gmail.com

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