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Posts Tagged ‘mercury’

Is There a Ban on Incandescent Bulbs ?

Sun ,10/07/2011

While Congress is wrestling with the problem of keeping our country from going bankrupt, some in Congress and our business community are concerned with the serious problem of  – light bulb standards. The Investor Business Daily posted an editorial “Let There Be Lights” on 07/08/2011. (1)  Although it is an opinion piece, it does not represent an informed opinion. The article claims that the ban on incandescent light bulbs sums up everything that’s wrong with intrusive, nanny-state government. However,  there is no ban- just efficiency standards that some incandescent bulbs cannot meet.

It is interesting  that the The Republicans for Environmental Protection are opposed to eliminating the standards while Republicans in Congress, such as Joe Barton and  Michelle Bachmann are pushing  HR 91, a bill which is designed to scuttle the efficiency  standards. The Investor Business Daily editorial uses many of the  politician’s arguments, apparently without checking the facts.  The article starts :

”Energy: The ban on incandescent light bulbs sums up everything that’s wrong with intrusive, nanny-state government.”

But, there is no ban- just efficiency standards that some incandescent  bulbs cannot meet.  The Republicans for Environmental Protection are opposed to eliminating the standards and here is what they say:

“There is no light bulb ban. There never has been. The bulb ban rhetoric misrepresents a 2007 law that sets efficiency standards for general-purpose, screw-in light bulbs. In fact, new, efficient incandescent bulbs that meet the new standards are already on the shelves of your local Home Depot. That fact has not prevented Barton, Bachmann and others from pushing legislation, HR 91, to scuttle the new standards. It is likely that HR 91 will come up for a vote in the House over the next few weeks.” (2)

The Investor Business Daily opinion article goes on :

” As the law stands, the incandescent light, the greatest invention by America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, will disappear at the end of this year. It is being replaced with an unproven substitute — the compact fluorescent light, or CFL — that is both politically foolish and bad science.”

 Eh? The incandescent bulb will not disappear. It will still be available in more efficient designs. And CFL bulbs for home use are based on the same proven technology as other fluorescent light bulbs.  I cannot think of a company, school, or public building that does not use fluorescent light bulbs to save energy and avoid maintenance costs.

The editorial also puts words in the mouths of proponents:

 “Proponents claim CFLs would provide lots of healthy light but use as much as 30% less energy. Not true.” And “- because CFL bulbs cost as much as 20 times more than the reliable old incandescent bulbs, consumers will pay through the nose for pretending to be green. “

The article would like for you to believe that CFL’s are only 30% more efficient but no proponent would claim that.  CFL’s are three to four times as efficient as regular bulbs and last about 10 times as long. As to cost, where do they shop? Many electric coops sell CFL bulbs for $1.00 and they are less than $2.00 at most discount stores.  I doubt if you can find an incandescent bulb for  1/20th of that. And, over the life of the CFL bulb, it will save approximately $9.00 in operating cost over the ten incandescent bulbs it will replace.

Finally, the editorial wants you to be afraid:

“As for safety and disposal, the CFLs are downright dangerous. They contain toxins such as mercury, arsenic, lead and cyanide. You can’t just throw them out — they have to be recycled in a way that’s expensive.”

 Do they realize that much of our electricity is produced by coal-fired power plants. Coal contains a trace amount of mercury, lead, and arsenic  – but considering that we burn 7 billion tons of coal each year –  50 tons of mercury  and many tons of other heavy metals are emitted into the air annually. The mercury and other pollutants are carried to the ground by rain and much of them end up in our lakes and streams where they enter the food chain.  It’s true that CFL’s should be recycled, but even if you don’t, using them will keep much more mercury and other pollutants out of the environment. (3)

(1)    http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article/577799/201107081902/Let-There-Be-Lights.htm

(2)    See : http://capwiz.com/repamerica/issues/alert/?alertid=51013516&queueid=7101172991 The article contains a link for you to contact your Legislator. 

(3)    http://jcmooreonline.com/2009/08/21/mercury-in-fish/

(c) 2011  J.C. Moore

A New Tactic in the Climate Change Debate

Tue ,27/04/2010

The old tactic in the debate on climate change was denial. Some skeptics claimed that the Earth’s temperature was not rising while others claimed that any increase observed was not from man’s activities. However, the mounting scientific evidence from many fields of science can no longer be effectively denied. The latest IPCC report (1) shows that the Earth’s mean temperature is rising, that the temperature increase is changing the environment, and that the changes are caused by man’s activities. Scientists are concerned that politicians are not getting the message and every major scientific organization in the world has endorsed a statement concurring with the IPCC’s conclusion. Clearly, denial was no longer an effective option and a new tactic was needed by those profiting from the status quo.

The new tactic is being championed by Lord Nigel Lawson, a British politician who fought for years to keep British Parliament from supporting the Kyoto Treaty (2). His new book on the subject, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, admits global warming is occurring and that man is responsible. However, he claims that it is impossible to do anything about it, that to try would cost too much, and that a little global warming is actually a good thing. That might be true for those who live in damp, dreary England, but the book overlooks or minimizes many of the problems associated with climate change. Lord Lawson says that we shouldn’t worry as we and the Earth will adapt: “Over the past two-and-a-half-million years, a period during which the planet’s climate fluctuated substantially, remarkably few of the earth’s millions of plant and animal species became extinct. This applies not least, incidentally, to polar bears, which have been around for millennia, during which there is ample evidence that polar temperatures have varied considerably.”

The book is highly touted by some but it blithely ignores the work of many scientists and ecologists who conclude: “Many plant and animal species are unlikely to survive climate change.” (3) A recent study at Harvard “suggests quite decisively that non-native and invasive species have been the climate change winners. Invasive species can be intensely destructive to biodiversity, ecosystem function, agriculture, and human health. In the United States alone the estimated annual cost of invasive species exceeds $120 billion.” (4) As to polar bears, they have recently been put on the threatened species list because their habitat, the Arctic ice, is disappearing. Polar bears have become uniquely adapted over many thousands of years to survive and hunt on the pack ice. It is unlikely that they, and many other species, will have time to adapt to the climate changes predicted to occur over the next century.

Even if a warmer Earth were a good thing, it is not good that our oceans are becoming more acidic, that the glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, that species are becoming extinct and invasive species are proliferating. Our use of fossil fuels is putting 30 billion tons of CO2 into the air annually along with mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish where there are no natural sources and many places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and the coral, fisheries, shellfish, and oxygen-producing plankton are threatened. Ignoring those problems will not make them go away.

So, the new tactic is just a call to inaction. Rather than addressing climate change, Lord Lawson wishes for us to ignore it and adapt to it. He does miss one small thing that might become important to England. The large amounts of fresh water from the melting ice sheets may cause the Gulf Stream to shut down. Without the heat being brought across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream, England may plunge to glacial temperatures with average winter temperatures of -25°C. England might have a little trouble adapting to that. No one knows the future, but we will be better off fashioning it rather than just letting it happen to us.

2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Lawson
3) http://www.nature.com/nature/links/040108/040108-1.html
4) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203111626.htm

Is EPA Regulation of CO2 a "Power Grab"?

Fri ,19/03/2010

Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK), in Frankly Speaking (3/10/2010), wants to rein in what he calls “the EPA power grab” to limit carbon emissions. That is hardly the case. The Supreme Court, in Massachusetts v. EPA, ordered the environmental protection agency to make a determination as to whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant. The EPA has found, based on the best scientific evidence, that CO2 is an endangerment to public health and has moved forward as instructed.

If Congress had acted to develop a sound energy policy and to curb pollution, the  EPA would not be forced to act in the matter. Regulation of carbon emissions would fall mainly on the coal industry and would favor a shift to petroleum and natural gas, both abundant in Oklahoma. However, all our  Republican Congressmen sat out the process and let the Democrats from coal producing states load up the cap-and-trade bill with perks for coal producing states. Some of  leaders see that limiting carbon emissions could be favorable to the Oklahoma economy, but apparently, our elected representatives have not caught on yet.

It is not just about the CO2 or climate change. Along with the 30 billion tons of CO2 we put into the air annually are large amounts of mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and radioactive isotopes of radon. Those end up in the air, the water, and the food chain. We are now finding mercury in fish and some places have limits on consumption. The oceans are now 20% more acidic and economically important fisheries are threatened. Whether we cap pollution, tax it, or strictly regulate it, something must be done and soon.