Over the last few months we’ve been noticing around here that our dishwasher doesn’t work as well as it used to. I assumed that it was simply wearing out (which would be annoying since it’s only a few years old). But it turns out that my dishwasher is innocent: Pennsylvania instituted a phosphate ban in July. Phosphate-free dishwashing detergent doesn’t work as well.

It seems that phosphates are bad because they act as a fertilizer. Sewage treatment plants can’t get all of them out, so they end up in the water where they promote algae and aquatic vegetation. Too much algae and plants, environmentalists say, are bad for fish.

This strikes me as an idiotic environmental tradeoff, entirely apart from the reduction in human quality of life. People aren’t going to accept dirty dishes; they are going to wash them again. So in order to cut back on algae, these bans are going to increase human water usage. You think algae is bad for fish, how do you think the fish will react to not having any water?!

Okay, the coefficients of the tradeoff probably aren’t as bad as that for the fish, but many places have severe water shortages already. Imposing a rule that requires more water is idiocy, aside from being a pain in the posterior.

(Via the Corner.)

UPDATE: Replaced a stale link.

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