Stan Wasbin, San Clemente
“Question Authority” was a popular slogan that emerged from the 1960s suspicion of government. It should be applied now to the San Clemente Watershed Task Force, the Clean Ocean Project, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and every other organization recommending that San Clemente ban the use of plastic bags.
In order to swallow the argument, as expressed by Donia Moore, one has to accept a series of assumptions: That the presence of plastic bags (and their smaller pieces) in the ocean poses a threat to marine and human life; that the citizens of San Clemente, by using plastic bags, are contributing significantly to this problem; that appealing to the citizens of San Clemente by ways not involving the force of law would be ineffective; and that banning the use of plastic bags in our town would make a significant dent in this problem.
Regarding the first assumption, many of us have grown weary of experts—both inside and outside of government—warning us of the latest environmental calamity that never materializes. From the dangers of DDT and Alar, to the threats posed by human-overpopulation and global cooling by particulate matter in the atmosphere, the public repeatedly has been scared into believing that the sky is falling. Citizens ought to question authority and suspect that the outcry against the use of plastic bags is just another in a string of false alarms.
As for the remaining assumptions, how refreshing it would be if the San Clemente Watershed Task Force instead directed its efforts at convincing us of their veracity. Resorting to the force of law to ban plastic bags would harm businesses that make plastic bags, inconvenience businesses that use plastic bags and strip all of us of another small freedom to choose.