“The widely stated accusation that the bags kill 100,000 animals and a million seabirds every year are false, experts have told The Times of London. They pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.
The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.
Fifteen years later in 2002, when the Australian government commissioned a report into the effects of plastic bags, its authors misquoted the Newfoundland study, mistakenly attributing the deaths to “plastic bags.”
The figure was latched on to by conservationists as proof that the bags were killers. For four years the “typo” remained uncorrected. It was only in 2006 that the authors altered the report, replacing “plastic bags” with “plastic debris”. But they admitted: “The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic bag litter is nearly impossible to determine.”
In a postscript to the correction they admitted that the original Canadian study had referred to fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the threat to the marine environment.
Regardless, the erroneous claim has become the keystone of a widening campaign to demonise plastic bags.”
Now, can you imagine how much time and money were spent on this?
I suspect that this kind of bogus use of science is much more common than our press likes to admit.