Follow Us

Non-plastic straws the latest example of climate activism's unintended and deadly consequences

"Ready, Shoot, Aim!" The rush to utopian solutions like ending plastic straws, much like ending fossil fuels, turns out to produce unintended and potentially deadly consequences for wildlife and people.

Published: August 30, 2023 11:00pm

Last week, a widely read study was published revealing that the "plant-based" drinking straws pushed onto diners by eco-activists may actually be more harmful to both the environment and public health than their plastic counterparts.

According to research published in the journal Food Additives & Contaminants, the "plant-based straws" in question contain "per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)," which the scientists say are "not necessarily biodegradable and that the use of such straws potentially contributes to human and environmental exposure of PFAS."

Environmentalists call PFAS "forever chemicals" because they take a long time to break down. PFAS chemicals are a class of chemicals used to make products grease proof, water proof, stick-proof, and stain-resistant. According to Clean Water Action, they are added to a wide range of everyday products such as food packaging for pizza boxes, food wrappers, and take-out containers, non-stick pans, and even personal care products like dental floss, mascara, foundation, menstrual underwear. 

The National Cancer Institute, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has classified PFAS as "a possible human carcinogen based in part on limited epidemiologic evidence of associations with cancers of the kidney and testis in heavily exposed subjects." Clean Water action concurs, adding that "very small doses of PFAS increase the risk of a wide variety of health problems, including kidney and testicular cancer, liver problems, high cholesterol, and immunosuppression." 

The research is a significant blow to environmentalists who’ve spent years pushing for bans on plastic straws in favor of paper or plant-based ones as an eco-friendly alternative. The studies may be just the latest bit of evidence to suggest that other supposed "clean" measures have their dirty downsides, often unseen by the public.

President of the pro-fossil fuel group Power the Future, Daniel Turner, wrote in an August press release that America’s tax dollars "are supporting slave and child labor around the world" due to Biden’s green agenda, along with pushing the country further into dependence on its biggest adversary.

When it comes to the global transition to renewable energy, for example, links to child labor are well documented. According to think tank the Wilson Center, "Of the 255,000 Congolese mining for cobalt, 40,000 are children, some as young as six years." Cobalt is a critical element in the manufacture of renewable energies and rechargeable batteries, specifically "in the cathodes of lithium-ion batteries and nickel metal hydride batteries used in electric or hybrid vehicles." In addition, cobalt mining "often produces pollution that leaches into neighboring rivers and water sources."

Other metals, like lithium, are often extracted through hard rock mining, a process that MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering describes as emitting 15 times more CO2 than the amount of lithium that is gathered. The lithium is then used to make EV lithium-ion batteries, an estimated 95% of which are not recyclable. Charging the battery requires plugging it into a power source, which is often traced back to fossil fuels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified lithium batteries as "hazardous materials and are subject to DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations." Lithium is regarded as potentially lethal, according to the National Institutes of Health, adding that in some cases, "lithium toxicity can lead to coma, brain damage, or even death."

Back in May, CBS News broadcast a story on solar and wind energy reporting that 90% of solar panels are dumped in landfills upon expiration because they aren’t recyclable. It was estimated that over the next 7 years, enough panels would be dumped in the environment to cover 3,000 football fields.

Windmills, which are notoriously difficult to recycle, are also feared to be behind the recent increase in whale deaths. As the Biden administration has enabled offshore wind farm production, even a top Biden scientist has warned this "likely" could kill the whales—including endangered ones—because of the "additional noise, vessel traffic, and habitat modifications." 

By February of this year alone, at least nine whales have been found dead on the New Jersey coastline near offshore windmill farms, according to The Guardian (UK). The newspaper added that "unusual mortality events" have generated "concern from conservatives and activists that wind turbines are at fault.

President Biden's U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry told Newsweek that concerns about the dead whales and impact on other wildlife are part of a "'disinformation campaign."

Anecdotes aside, the clean energy activists have a definitional problem with no complete solution in sight: clean energy comes from fossil fuels to one extent or another. Stanford University has acknowledged that "all renewable technologies" are tied to coal and natural gas due to "emissions from manufacturing and installing them."

Dan Kish, a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, told Just the News in July that fossil fuels are "almost exclusively" to thank for green technology. University of California San Diego scientist Nguyen Minh also told Just the News he doesn’t foresee an end to fossil fuels being possible, at best, only a reduction in overall emissions.

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News