Remember Audi’s absurd “Green Police” Super Bowl commercial where green cops arrest citizens for using plastic bags, plastic water bottles and sort through the community’s trash cans to ensure they’re recycling?
Well, the absurdity is about to hit the streets of Cleveland. Cleveland.com reports:
It would be a stretch to say that Big Brother will hang out in Clevelanders’ trash cans, but the city plans to sort through curbside trash to make sure residents are recycling—and fine them $100 if they don’t. The move is part of a high-tech collection system the city will roll out next year with new trash and recycling carts embedded with radio frequency identification chips and bar codes.
The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll carts to the curb for collection. If a chip show a recyclable cart hasn’t been brought to the curb in weeks, a trash supervisor will sort through the trash for recyclables.
The high-tech collection system is an expansion of a 15,000-resident pilot program that commenced in 2007. Proponents of the program argue that not only is the $2.5 million program good for the environment, but because the city will collect revenue from the fines and from recycled goods, the trash police will eventually raise revenue. The article mentions that the city pays $30 per ton to place garbage in a landfill but would receive $26 per ton for recycling goods. We know that the city will pass the costs onto the consumer, but the article makes no mention of whether residents will reap any savings benefits.
Much more problematic is the intrusion onto individual liberties. Like much of the “Green Police” commercial—and the environmentalist movement as a whole—the goal is to change human behavior. But a recent Rasmussen survey “shows that only 17% of adults believe most Americans would be willing to make major cutbacks in their lifestyle in order to help save the environment. Most (65%) say that’s not the case.”
Skeptics of catastrophic temperature increases compare belief in global warming to a religion, saying that alarmists base their views on faith much more than concrete science. This could have significant consequences if Congress enacts cap-and-trade legislation or other policies that aim to increase Americans’ energy bills. The goal, of course, is to force consumers to use less energy.
We should allow for choice and respect the choices of others. If someone chooses not to drink bottled water because they believe it is bad for the environment, so be it. (Interestingly, the environmentalist push that tap water is unsafe led to the rise of bottled water.) Those who choose to drink tap water should respect the preference of those who enjoy bottled. Conflicts will certainly arise among people with different preferences, but to advocate that one is morally right and one is morally wrong is objectionable.
Nicolas Loris is a Research Assistant at The Heritage Foundation’s Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies. Loris studies energy, environment and regulation issues such as the economic impacts of climate change legislation, a free market approach to nuclear energy and the effects of environmental policy on energy prices and the economy.
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