Pop culture trends: first the water bottle, now global warming?

Is tap water the latest aqua-fad?

Photo by Stock Photo

Is tap water the latest aqua-fad?

Water brands were a mark of social class.

Over the last six months I’ve heard several female conversations about what kind of bottled water is the best. For those of you who didn’t know, the taste, origin, bottle shape, social image and price are all in the complicated equation of what makes good water. Bling H20 — the $40 Swarovski crystal-encrusted bottle of water tops them all with its high price, frosted bottle and celebrity use. Designed to make an image statement, the brand describes itself as “pop-culture in a bottle.” While selling overpriced water is probably one of the most brilliant get-rich-quick schemes I’ve ever heard of (besides selling pet rocks), unfortunately, it is so last year.

Over the past few years, the American bottled water industry has grown to a whopping $16 billion. Global consumption of bottled water was 41 billion gallons in 2004 — up 57 percent from the previous five years. However, no matter how popular or social your water is (or was), buying water is just not cool anymore according to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

In an effort to reduce global warming, Newsom issued an executive order this summer prohibiting all city government branches from purchasing single-serving bottles of water with government money.

Newsom said more than 1 billion bottles end up in California’s landfills. The New York Times, in an article titled, “In Praise of Tapwater,” reported that The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead.

Ok. With statistics like that, who could argue against Newsom’s executive order, right? Well, what problems does global warming actually cause, and how cold do they actually want the world to get until we’re “safe” from certain death?

George F. Will wrote in the Oct. 22 edition of Newsweek that global warming was blamed for 35,000 deaths in Europe’s 2003 heat wave, while cold causes approximately 25,000 deaths in England and Wales annually. Wills goes on to say that cold in Europe causes seven times more deaths than heat does and that worldwide, moderate warming would save more lives than it would cost. So are we worried about rising ocean levels? In the next 94 years, the ocean will rise about a — not, in my opinion, a reason to spend millions of dollars trying to reduce the temperature of the entire planet.

Where does Newsom get off thinking he can order the whole city government to not buy a certain product? Also — if the oil is the problem, then we can expect a lot more executive orders because I’m pretty sure water bottles aren’t the only thing that use oil in the production process. What about other beverage products? They use the same bottles. My disgust with government intervention in the free market is only heightened when it’s over something as controversial and petty as an un-winnable war against heat.

I get it — anti-global warming campaigns are “in” right now. CNN changed its lettering to green on Saturday, and PETA is mad at Al Gore for eating meat because animal agriculture also (surprise!) produces gas emissions. I’m fine with people wanting to conserve the environment, but I can’t help wondering if this is just a silly, expensive fad like a $40 bottle of water.

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