And Still More Environmental Epic Fail

It never rains (especially in climate change-stricken California) but it pours (which it will probably do next winter in California this El Nino-fueled year). No sooner do I deliver the latest eco-backfire news this morning that my (gluten free/non-animal-tested) in-box fills up with two fresh howlers.

First, all those places like universities (natch) that are banning bottled water because there are too many plastic bottles in the waste stream? It isn’t working. (By the way, the bottled water craze was partly set off by environmentalists to begin with—from their unfounded warnings about “dangerous” U.S. tap water that isn’t dangerous at all. But hey—we gotta have something in those direct mail letters. . .) The American Journal of Public Health (it’s peer-reviewed!) has just published a study entitled “The Unintended Consequences of Changes in Beverage Options and the Removal of Bottled Water on a University Campus.” It’s behind a paywall, but the full abstract is available, and I haven’t had this good a HEH! moment since, well. . . since this morning:

  1. We investigated how the removal of bottled water along with a minimum healthy beverage requirement affected the purchasing behavior, healthiness of beverage choices, and consumption of calories and added sugars of university campus consumers.
  2. With shipment data as a proxy, we estimated bottled beverage consumption over 3 consecutive semesters: baseline (spring 2012), when a 30% healthy beverage ratio was enacted (fall 2012), and when bottled water was removed (spring 2013) at the University of Vermont. We assessed changes in number and type of beverages and per capita calories, total sugars, and added sugars shipped.
  3. Per capita shipments of bottles, calories, sugars, and added sugars increased significantly when bottled water was removed. Shipments of healthy beverages declined significantly, whereas shipments of less healthy beverages increased significantly. As bottled water sales dropped to zero, sales of sugar-free beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages increased.
  4. The bottled water ban did not reduce the number of bottles entering the waste stream from the university campus, the ultimate goal of the ban. With the removal of bottled water, consumers increased their consumption of less healthy bottled beverages.

So heh! Look do-gooders: if bottled water could survive Lewis Black (10 minute video, language warning) it will survive your stupid interventions.

But wait, there’s more!

You’ve heard we’re banning trans-fat in America? This comes as a relief: it means we’ve finally found a trans-something that liberals don’t approve of. For those of us who present as Hefto-Americans and self-identify as members of the trans-fat community, this seems like blatant bigotry. But guess what mom: banning trans-fat is bad for the environment, too! Time magazine reported last week:

The Surprising Link Between Trans-Fat and Deforestation

The Ban Will Likely Lead to an Increase in Palm Oil Cultivation

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned trans fat this week in a move hailed as major step forward in the fight against heart disease. But the move may have some unfortunate environmental consequences. The increased demand for palm oil—the leading replacement for trans fat—will likely lead to deforestation as wooded areas in the tropics are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations.

“It’s the single greatest immediate threat to tropical forests and wildlife,” said David Wilcove, Princeton University professor of public affairs and ecology and evolutionary biology, about palm oil. “It is the leading cause of deforestation and has been for a number of years.”

When the trans fat ban takes effect in three years, experts say that palm oil will be the clear alternative for food producers. In 2006, the FDA enacted a rule that manufacturers label trans fat on food products—and palm oil imports the United States jumped by 60%. The number will be much larger this time around, experts say.

Can these people do anything right? Sounds like I’ll need to start a new series, or re-up my order of gluten-free, non-trans-fat Green Weenies

Hat tip: Mark Perry

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