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Ralph R. Reiland

Ralph R. Reiland

The B. Kenneth Simon Professor of Free Enterprise at Robert Morris University

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Reflections

Greenies Gone Nuts for the Holidays

by Ralph R. Reiland
 

This is a tough time of year for eco-friendly global planners.

In Copenhagen they tried to put together a deal to save the world's forests while we rode around with millions of Christmas trees tied to our car roofs.

Among the ruses that came out of Copenhagen, they called on rich countries to pay poor countries to not cut down their trees.

In other tree news, Alternative Consumer magazine says we should stop buying Christmas trees and just draw holiday trees on old shopping bags. Here's the green prescription from Alternative Consumer for family fun during the holidays and how the tree should look for the kids on Christmas morning:

"No tree. No driving to the tree lot, watching them saw the tree down, wrapping it in plastic and then driving back home. No driving to Target, buying a plastic tree and driving home. We make a tree mural out of shopping bags and leave a few Sharpies around to decorate with. It's personal, meaningful and 100 percent recycled."

Well, not 100 percent, unless the family went Dumpster diving for some used Sharpies.

Imagine growing up in a house like that and not turning into a guilt-ridden psycho. I say cut down the trees and save the kids from developing a mixed bag of anti-social personality disorders --- things like excessive fear, envy, arrogance, pessimism and an anti-capitalist, anti-American ethos.

"The Rules" in Alternative Consumer for "A Freegan Christmas" include the following: (1) "No cards. Not even e-cards." (2) "No wrapping paper. There's something exciting about opening a wrapped gift, and you can achieve that by putting it in a paper bag -- we all know you have a billion under your sink." (3) "No thank-you cards." (4) "No holiday hams. French toast can replace tired turkey and ham dinners." (5) "No stress."

Maybe it's me, but it seems stressful to get a piece of French toast for dinner and think you're going to kill the planet if you don't wrap presents in old bags or don't just draw your Christmas tree on an old shopping bag with whatever Sharpie colors you can scrounge up from the kitchen drawers without spending a dime.

The problem with live Christmas trees, says Ohio State economics professor Brent Sohngen, is that profit-seeking landowners in the U.S. are knocking down stands of carbon-retaining hardwoods in order to increase the number of less-carbon-retaining pine plantations, increasing carbon dioxide levels, a greenhouse gas.

Sohngen estimates that 10 million acres in Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana will be switched from hardwood forests to pine plantations (for lumber and the holidays) in the next 20 years, adding 700,000 tons more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per year.

Fake Christmas trees from China (85 percent of the artificial trees in U.S. stores are produced in China) are also not politically correct. Alleged carcinogens are said to be generated during production, polluting the disproportionately poor who live near China's factory sites as well as the workers inside the factories, none of whom are paying members of the SEIU, the pro-collectivist Service Employees International Union.

Down under, the Australian Conservation Foundation estimates that the extra clothes and books that Australian consumers buy during the Christmas season add some 720,000 tons and 430,000 tons, respectively, in greenhouse pollution to the atmosphere per year.

The answer? One kid per family, no pets, no blinking Rudolphs from China --- and French toast for dinner, made, naturally, with eggs from only free range chickens.

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Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

Ralph R. Reiland

5623 Baptist Road

Pittsburgh, Pa. 15236

Phone: 412-527-2199

E-mail: rrreiland@aol.com

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