Judd Gregg: Paper straws and you

Judd Gregg: Paper straws and you
© Getty Images

There are approximately 1.3 billion people in India — and several hundred million cows.

The amount of methane gas those cows produce likely equals, or maybe even exceeds, all the carbon emissions of California, New York and Connecticut combined.

It would seem that, here in the U.S., our environmental warriors against greenhouse gas should be calling for an end to all these cows.

ADVERTISEMENT

Advocates of the Green New Deal — which is embraced to a greater or lesser extent by the entire herd of candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination, including the purportedly more centrist Joe BidenJoe Biden2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE — should admit that consistency requires an end to these bovine global polluters.

But this may not be part of their recipe for world improvement.

Cows in India are sacred and will thus probably be granted a reprieve by the left — including its leader, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders doubles down on Bolivia 'coup,' few follow suit Hillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle MORE (D-N.Y.), the 29-year-old former bartender from the Bronx — which is otherwise focused on the Green New Deal.

This respect does not, however, apply to plastic straws.

Plastic straws have taken on a new status as the left identifies all that is wrong in the everyday world of average, non-latte-sipping Americans.

Plastic straws are a symbol — or in some minds, actually a cause — of what is going to destroy our planet.

Plastic is bad and plastic straws thus must be replaced by paper straws.

Ending the existence of plastic straws will be a tangible expression of the effort to fix the world’s obsession with greenhouse gases.

At this rate, the 2020 Democratic platform, which will be ratified at the party’s national convention in Milwaukee 13 months from now, will include a plank that expresses outright opposition to plastic straws and enthusiastically embraces paper straws.

It will be a new mantra.

Instead of the next Democratic presidential nominee stating, “The buck stops here,” he or she will proclaim “Plastic straws stop here.”

At least the message will fit nicely on a plaque.

The zeal of those now controlling the Democratic Party for telling the rest of us how to live our lives does not stop with straws, however.

There must be no carbon, they say — no way, of any type, by a date certain (even if every Democratic candidate has a different date).

In pursuing this goal, no one seems to have addressed a few of the obvious but rather ticklish issues involved in it, including the tremendous diminution in standard of living it would bring about for everyday Americans — and the $93 trillion the Green New Deal would cost, according to some estimates.

Those calling loudest for action on climate change also ignore things like the cows in India or the 1.4 billion people who live in China, most of whom are heating their homes and running their electricity on coal plants.

These and numerous other obvious issues are skipped over as “inconvenient truths.”

The plain truth is that the Green New Deal, and its ancillary initiatives now promoted by the Democratic Party, do not benefit any land other than Oz.

Wind is one of the most touted alternative energy sources, for example.

But wind in this context has some serious problems which are simply glossed over in the name of feel-good politics.

First, of course, is the fact that building a wind generator requires a lot of carbon-based materials and energy. Effective generators have wingspans as long as a football field.

It is estimated that the amount of carbon expended to manufacture a windmill actually exceeds the windmill’s useful life production of non-carbon energy. They are a net negative carbon emitter when looked at that way.

Requiring that all automobiles and trucks be electric by a date certain is also problematic.

Most obviously, electricity comes from power plants. Most American power for the foreseeable future will be produced by gas or to a lessening degree coal generation.

The share of electricity coming from non-carbon-emitting plants over the next few decades will certainly be less then 35 percent.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even this number presumes that we keep our nuclear plants operative, since they deliver 20 percent of the nation’s non-carbon-produced electricity. It also presumes that we can quadruple the electricity that we get from solar and wind.

This is not to say that expanding the use of windmills and building more electric cars and trucks are not good ideas. They are.

But there is a certain snake-oil salesmanship going on here, when the feel-good global warriors on the left tell the rest of America how they are going to end greenhouse gases.

What they are really saying, in order to pander to their far-left base, is that the rest of America should fundamentally reduce its standard of living in the name of bettering the planet.

Their plans might be worth a try if they had a plausible chance of success. But the proposals are primarily gamesmanship, aimed at securing an advantage in electoral politics. They will not result in America being a better place to live.

Try a paper straw. They do not last past the first stop-light after the station where you charged your Tesla with carbon-produced electricity.

They are, however, more viable and honest than the Democratic Party and its candidates for president who are trying to foist the Green New Deal — with its massive costs and highly questionable results — on the rest of us in America.

Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee.

The author is a member of the advocacy council of Nuclear Matters, a group that promotes nuclear energy.