Tim McDonnell

Tim McDonnell

Climate Desk Associate Producer

Tim McDonnell joined Climate Desk after stints at Mother Jones and Sierra magazine. He remains a cheerful guy despite covering climate change all the time. Originally from Tucson, Tim loves tortillas and epic walks.

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Bad Man Wants to Ban Bag Bans

| Mon Feb. 9, 2015 2:36 PM EST

Columbia, Mo., is considering a ban on plastic shopping bags. This is good. Plastic bags are wasteful and bad for the environment and generally terrible. They create tons of nasty litter on city streets and can block up recycling facilities. So there's really no reason why grocery stores and other retail outlets should hand out trillions of them for free. Tons of local, regional, and national governments around the world have already figured this out, and implemented bans.

But Missouri state Representative Dan Shaul, a Republican from the suburbs of St. Louis, disagrees. That's why he wants to ban bag bans, with a bill going before committee in the state's legislature this week.

From the St. Louis Riverfront Times:

Shaul, a sixteen-year member of the Missouri Grocers Association, is trying to stop bag bans outright. He says he doesn't want to burden shoppers with an additional fee at the grocery store.

"If they choose to tax the bag, it's going to hurt the people who need that the most: the consumer," especially the poor, Shaul says. "My goal when I go to the grocery store with a $100 bill is to get $100 worth of groceries."

But a ten-cents-per-bag fee for forgetting your reusable bag? "That adds up pretty quick."

Here's the thing, though: Ban bags are actually really good for local economies, because they reduce costs for retailers and cleanup costs for governments. California, which became the first US state to ban bags last fall, previously spent $25 million per year picking them up and landfilling them.

So instead of bag ban bans, a better bill would be a ban on bag ban bans.

Obama: Climate Change Is an "Urgent And Growing Threat" To National Security

| Fri Feb. 6, 2015 2:34 PM EST
The US Navy base in Norfolk, Va., is a key piece of military infrastructure threatened by climate change.

President Barack Obama listed climate change alongside international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and infectious disease in a new national security strategy plan released today. The plan called climate change "an urgent and growing threat to our national security" and also called for the United States to diversify its energy sources to insulate the country from disruptions to foreign fossil fuel markets.

This isn't the first time the Obama administration has singled out climate as a major national security risk: A Pentagon report in October said global warming has become a short-term priority for strategic military planning. But the issue gets much more airtime in today's strategy than it did in the administration's first, issued back in 2010, where it merited just a few passing references. Overall, the document is in line with the more aggressive climate message that has emerged this year from the White House. You can read it below:

Mon Nov. 9, 2015 2:39 PM EST
Wed Nov. 4, 2015 11:38 AM EST
Fri Oct. 30, 2015 2:18 PM EDT
Fri Oct. 23, 2015 12:46 PM EDT
Tue Sep. 22, 2015 3:41 PM EDT
Thu Sep. 17, 2015 12:46 PM EDT
Tue Jul. 21, 2015 3:16 PM EDT