Golf Balls or Butts? You DecideWednesday, November 11, 2009 16:35
Yesterday, CNN’s Christina Macfarlane reported that the Danish Golf Union has recently determined that it takes between 100 to 1,000 years for a golf ball to naturally decompose. Now, 900 years is a big statistical stretch; especially when you think of it in terms of “dog” years. But, imagine the potential litter problem. Although a quantitative environmental impact study has yet to substantiate any ecological impact, Macfarlane reported that a team of U.S. scientists has supposedly discovered hundreds of thousands of golf balls on the lake-bed of Loch Ness; this all the while continuing the hopeless attempts to find any evidence of the fabled Loch Ness monster. It appears that for some extended period of time, the Loch has been utilized as an aqua driving range.
Video from the research sub Sea Trepid clearly shows up to 3 golf balls on the bottom of the Loch. But, here’s where the hard science gets fuzzy and the case for a green movement begins. The scientists estimated only thousands of golf balls were found. Ms. Macfarlane added the hundreds multiplier probably to give the story greater impact. Remember green movement guerrilla tactics 101: Thousands don’t make a crisis like hundreds of thousands does. Nothing like a little numbers inflation to cause a panic.
The Danes discovered that in the process of decomposition a golf ball may release heavy metals – most specifically zinc. The zinc may leech from the ball and attach to lake-bed sediment which, in elevated quantities, may poison the surrounding plant life and other things.
Is this a startling discovery? It depends on your agenda. In the era of Al Gore and other eco-climate opportunists, this definitely is another targeted blow from environmental zealots aimed to bruise and batter the game of golf. Can you spell income redistribution? According to Patrick Harvie, a member of the Scottish Green Party, MSP, and convener of the Scottish Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee, “Golf balls are humanity’s signature litter in the most inaccessible locations.” Well, sure; the balls lying on the bottom of Loch Ness are inaccessible. But, let’s add the rub. What about the two golf balls that Apollo 14 astronaut Alan Shepard hit while he was on the moon’s surface back in 1971? Bingo! You now have the makings of an environmental disaster. Inaccessible locations? In these examples, yes. Humanity’s signature litter? Hardly. And, what about those golf balls on the moon? Likely vaporized by the sun. Which brings us to the topic of butts.
According to CigaretteLitter.Org: It is estimated that several trillion cigarette butts are littered worldwide every year. That’s billions of cigarettes flicked, one at a time, on our sidewalks, beaches, nature trails, gardens, and other public places every single day. In fact, cigarettes are the most littered item in America and the world. Cigarette butts, not golf balls, are humanity’s signature litter. Inaccessible? The misfortune is they are readily visible, even in the remotest parts of the world, and a true blight upon us as humanity.
Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate tow, NOT COTTON, and they can take decades to degrade. Not only does cigarette litter ruin even the most picturesque setting, but the toxic residue in cigarette filters is damaging to the environment, and littered butts cause numerous fires every year, some of them fatal. Most smokers never stop to think that their actions have such a negative impact on the environment. Sadly, too many don’t care.
One of the more disgusting sights is when a motorist flicks a butt out of the car window. Talk about an inconsiderate act. Every vehicle on the road has an ashtray. The reality is not even smokers want to empty an ashtray – talk about a filthy, stinky chore.
Again from CigaretteLitter.Org: What happens after that butt gets casually flicked onto the street, nature trail, or beach? Typically wind and rain carry the cigarette into the water supply, where the toxic chemicals the cigarette filter was designed to trap leak out into aquatic ecosystems, threatening the quality of the water and many aquatic lifeforms. Cigarette butts may seem small, but with several trillion butts littered every year, the toxic chemicals add up!
So what can rationale folk take from this? First, the Loch Ness monster probably got hit by so many of those hundreds of thousands of golf balls that it got ticked-off and split from the Loch. Poor Nessie; there ought to be a law. Second, while golf balls may pose a minuscule risk to plant and human life, they don’t even weigh in against the immediate and inexorable ecological mess that cigarette butts cause. Any individual who thinks otherwise is probably Al Gore’s best friend and chief scientist. Golf balls or butts; what do you think?
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