By Shona Morrison

It would appear that most people are finally starting to admit that there is some truth behind the climate change claims.

I think part of that is down to the sheer amount of evidence we’re being bombarded with on a regular basis. For one, I don’t remember quite so many storms hitting the UK even a few short years ago.

It must be an actual change in the atmosphere causing it rather than just scaremongering because I also can’t recall there being so much damage caused when we’ve had windy nights in the past. Perhaps it’s because I’m paying more attention to the traffic alerts on the radio or maybe, just maybe, it’s because Mother Nature is crying out for help and doing the only thing she can to grab our attention.

Although it may not feel like it sometimes, the average temperature of the planet as a whole is steadily increasing and sure haven’t we just seen flurries of snow and hailstones in the middle of October? There’s obviously something going on.

So, naturally countries are all trying to play their part in being a little kinder to the little Earth we share. The problem is that what seems to be the solution isn’t always going to be the actual answer to the problem.

Not so long ago, we were all being told that diesel cars were pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread. They boasted higher fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions but after it came out that car manufacturers were cheating in emissions tests, and the recent news on our own lacking MOT procedures, it transpires that actually, diesel vehicles are adding a rather harmful level of greenhouse gas, that is both harming heath and the environment.

As such, our government has decided that it will ban both petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Kudos to them for taking a step. Well done and all that. Although they’d want to get their thinking caps on as to what is going to replace them because an awful lot of people would be practically housebound without a car but the electric alternatives aren’t exactly up to par at the moment.

That same government is still supposed to be trying to work out how Brexit is or isn’t going to work but, in the meantime, they’ve announced a plan to ban the “distribution and sale of plastic straws, drinks stirrers and cotton buds” and have opened a six-week consultation on the matter. Subject to how the public respond, they could be banned in just over a year.

For a bunch of people trying to escape EU rulings, they’re really riding the coattails here as the European Parliament this week voted to ban single-use plastics such as the aforementioned straws and cotton buds.

Let’s be honest: they’re basically spitting in the wind. Much of the damage has been done and to put a ban on these plastics is just going to cause more problems.

It’s not as if we’re using straws on a daily basis. The only time I use them is when I’ve bought a dispensed drink from a fast food outlet. A straw helps avoid ice cubes hitting me on the nose or a calamitous spillage when the flimsy cups decide to crumple. If you’re in a car, it saves clothing and interiors alike when a pothole in inevitably hit and everything makes a leap for freedom.

For those with disabilities, using a straw may not be a choice but a necessity for hydration. Sure, the government may plan to put in exemptions for them, but that’s just adding yet another obstacle to daily life for those who have extra daily needs as it is.

It is proposed that pharmacies will still be able to sell plastic straws and restaurants will have some stock for those who request but that still means planning in advance and attaching a stigma. You would have to present yourself as having a disability and perhaps have to justify your request and no-one should have to do that because not everyone is comfortable telling complete strangers their personal information and medical history. You’re marking yourself as different when all you want to do is blend in.

Alternatives to single-use plastics have been suggested such as metal, glass, paper and even spaghetti.

In reality, they’re surely going to cause as many problems, just of a different kind. I really hate the feeling of paper when my hands are wet: it’s one of those ‘nails-down-a-blackboard’ sensations for me. So, using a paper straw in my drink just wouldn’t be happening. Plus it turns to mush after a few minutes. A glass straw could break and you can’t really use a metal straw in a hot chocolate nor would I trust the cleanliness of them if they’re supplied by an establishment rather than my own.

It’s attitudes that need to change rather than governments deciding to up the ante in creating a nanny state. Donald Trump is a prime example of the wasteful society: he couldn’t get his umbrella down before getting on the plane so just abandoned it outside the door. I already have to carry about my reusable bags, I simply don’t have room in my handbag to start carrying around a set of cutlery and an assortment of reusable straws on the off chance I fancy a quick curry chip and a milkshake when I’m out and about.

Introducing a ban isn’t the solution here: we should be enabled to create less waste and provided with environmentally friendly alternatives that are both effective and inclusive.

Being able to recycle our glass bottles in the blue bin here in Fermanagh has been a great step forward because it’s not a change that limited anyone: it made life a lot easier.

We’ve enough to be worrying about in the world without having to bring in laws that would be totally unnecessary if only people started to think before automatically reaching for a simple little straw.