The liberal blind spot about cars and eating meat—but don’t worry: We got rid of straws

If there is anything to be said about the liberal enclave of California, it is that we are particularly choosy about environmental causes—in a way that, whether we choose to recognize it or not, spectacularly shows off our cognitive dissonance.

We have hit a wall in this state when it comes to environmentalism. We simply refuse to give up our cars and refuse to stop consuming animals. That is the damned wall.

The cute little comfort-stroker that was the hyper-focus on plastic straws being the epitome of environmental evil became so overwhelmingly successful that even Disney is on board. (Their theme parks all use paper straws now. Yay!) And now, while sipping our milk through everything from repurposed hay straws to biodegradable sippy contraptions, we can drink happily knowing we’ve done our part.

We’ve. Done. It.

Forget the fact that 46% of the ocean’s plastic pollution is comprised solely from nets from the fishing industry.

We don’t use straws anymore.

Forget the fact that various, discarded pieces of fishing gear make up the majority of the rest of that plastic pollution. Roughly 640,000 tons of gear is lost in the ocean every year.

But hey, we don’t use straws anymore.

Forget the fact that the fishing industry throws out 20 billion pounds of unwanted fish per year—a byproduct of “bycatch,” where large fishing nets capture animals that weren’t intended to be caught and, if they are not dead already, are thrown back into the ocean with injuries they typically succumb to.

But, I mean, the straws…

Forget the fact that livestock accounts for nearly 15% of all the human-created greenhouse gas emissions in the world because:

The. Straws.

And then, after happily downing our single-origin espresso through a sippy lid after mowing through our bacon breakfast burrito, we get into our car to watch people use the bike lanes we championed. They’re pretty, the bike lanes. We don’t use them—can’t show up to work sweaty; we’re important people and that’s gross—but we love to watch people use them.

Hell, we’ll even go on a limb supporting massive measures which take our money in the hopes of creating some transit system that will be good, at least from what we hear, for the plebeians. We’ll share that crap on our social media—the Earth depends on it!—as we drive the exhausting 1.5-mile trek to our grocery store to buy steaks and cheese to put into our reusable bags, of which we have about 50 or so variations that show off our awoken sense of the times.

But when it comes to taking up our roads, altering the fillings of our stomachs, forcing us to search for parking, taking up space on our freeways, getting in the way of our comfort, well…

We will get angry and eventually just stab you in the back.

We will say, “This isn’t Europe!” to the crazies proposing that we turn a lane of a freeway into a Bus Only lane. Not in the xenophobic, nationalistic sense that Republicans speak with—that’s not what we mean. We love and care for every human. We just mean, well, the roads are for cars. It’s really not that hard to understand. People in buses, people on bikes, people on foot, people on trains … They need to figure something else out because we, the hard working liberals of California, have to sit in traffic and that’s not fair. Roads are for cars.

We will say, “You should be impeached!” to the politicians who are actively trying to build multi-family units near our precious single-family homes. Not in the anti-poor, classist sense that Republicans speak with—that’s not what we mean. We love and care for every human. We just mean, well, like, those apartment complexes are kinda ugly and they tower over our backyards where we host fundraisers for Becky’s new vegan doughnut shop in the neighborhood we’re trying to gentrify. We’re not against affordable housing at all—those kinda places would just be better for a place like the Inland Empire.

We will say, “How dare you try and take away comfortable transit from seniors and children and the disabled who depend on cars!” when we know damn well no one is trying to take away cars from people who need them; they’re trying to pry the dependence on cars away from the perfectly healthy, able-bodied, ambulatory folks—the folks who can ride a bike here and there for a mile or three. The folks who can schedule in an additional 15 minutes to their routine.

But we won’t admit any of this because we use self-righteous indignation better than any other.

We will focus absolutely every ounce of our energy on the things that need our attention—the marginalized, the polluted, the animals, the Earth—and not actually help them. It will only look like we’re helping them so when the world has decided to officially sign off on human existence, we can say, “We told you so. And that’s why we got rid of the straws.”

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.
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