These 10 Things Are Fine

by |
07/29/2008 10:15 AM |

The Science section of the NYTimes today runs a list of the 10 things you shouldn’t worry about this summer or during anyone’s hypothetical vacation. Some are no-brainers (I wasn’t worried about hot dogs), but others go against what I’ve been taught/told. Here’s the list:

1. Hot dogs are fine

2. Your car’s AC is fine (opening car windows while going 65 mph creates aerodynamic drag that makes the car work harder/use more gas, so AC is ultimately better)

3. Fruits from afar are fine–their carbon footprint isn’t necessarily bigger than foods closer to home

4. Cell phones won’t give you brain cancer (well…..)

5. Plastic bags are better than paper bags (what? really?)

6. Plastic bottles made with the chemical BPA (bisphenol-a) are fine, although Nalgene is making new Nalgenes without it anyway

7. You won’t get attacked by a shark (probably)

8. The Arctic is doing okay this year–not melting as much as last (hooray?)

9. The universe’s missing mass is fine (I think I’m a little out of the loop on “missing mass,” unfortunately)

10. You will probably not fall into a wormhole

The plastic bags one interests me the most. Otherwise during the summer I’m mostly worried about skin cancer and sweat stains.

6 Comment

  • Hey – the Washington Post had a big graphic a while back about why plastic is better than paper (or at least the arguments for/against each). http://tiny.cc/NwJDy

  • I’m not really sure I believe everything the Times’s designated conservative columnist is saying about what it’s ok to be laissez faire about, especially when the paper vs. plastic article he links to actually advocates using a reusable bag.

  • A couple of things (well, maybe a lot of things):

    John Tierney, when he took a brief foray into political writing, was a bit of a right wing hack who enjoyed tweaking the beliefs of “sensitive liberals.” It got tiresome, so he was shunted back to science, where he’s continued to cherry pick studies, create straw men and use ever-narrowing definitions for the sake of provocation. (I’m feeling like I’m getting tweaked here, hence the long response.)

    3. It’s true, some food from further away is actually less environmentally harmful (rice in California vs. rice in China is a good example)—but it all depends on metrics and as yet we are far from any kind of standard way of measuring transport/growing footprints. The deeply intuitive notion that local food is better remains true for most thing —there are exceptions to this, and of course, Tierney has cited one of them. This doesn’t factor in the obvious benefit to local economies and the long-term importance of diversifying land use.

    5. Paper vs. plastic isn’t exactly a huge eco-debate anymore—disposability is the big problem, not what biodegrades faster or has a bigger carbon footprint. Though you won’t find a lot of paper bags floating around here, killing the ocean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

    And the reason it costs so much to recycle paper in this country is more to do with political will and municipal vs. state vs. federal infrastructure—it doesn’t have to be that way.

    6. Again, the chief problem with plastic bottles is their inherent disposability, not the possible dangers of phyto-estrogen or other chemical hobgoblins.

    7. Sharks will learn to drive and kill us all.

    P.S. Note that Tierney cites articles at Reason, where “Free Minds equal Free Markets.” Take that for what it’s worth.

  • driving sharks = new irrational fear. edith, can we have more shark posts? thanks.

  • Oh, never mind, what he said.

    But, yeah, the guy lost his spot on the Opinion roster to Billy Kristol, fer chrissakes.

    Also, I liked #9 better when it was Alvy Singer’s mom telling him, “You live in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is not expanding.”

  • Nicely put, suck it tierney.