Saturday, January 05, 2008

An Inconvenient Book

I recently started reading Glenn Beck's new book, "An Inconvenient Book." In it, he shares "real solutions to the world's biggest problems," ranging from dating, marriage, and parenting; to radical Islam, America's oil dependence, and the UN; to tipping, movie rentals, and how to remember names. If you're familiar with Beck, from his radio and/or tv shows, his book comes across in a similar, funny yet informed fashion - "the fusion of entertainment and enlightenment" to use a tag line from his radio show.

The first chapter is on global warming, and I was amazed by some of the quotes included from various global warming extremists advocates:
  • "Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world." - Christine Stewart, Canada's former environment minister
  • "No matter if the science is all phony, there are still collateral benefits" to global warming policies. - Christine Stewart
  • "To capture the public imagination, we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective, and being honest." - Stephen Schneider, lead 2007 UN IPCC (United Nations International Panel on Climate Control) report author, who made this statement in 1989. Schneider also wrote one of the reports that led to the global-cooling scare of the 1970s.
  • "Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental." - Dave Forman, founder of Earth First!
  • The Kyoto Protocol is "the first component of an authentic global governance." - Jacques Chirac, then president of France, 2000.
  • "I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000." - Paul Ehrlich, current president of the Center for Conservation Biology at Standford. Ehrlich made this statement in 1969.
  • "In ten years all important animal life in the sea will be extinct. Large areas of coastline will have to be evacuated because of the stench of dead fish." - Paul Ehrlich, 1970.
  • "Giving society cheap, abundant energy ... would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun." - Paul Ehrlich, 1978.
  • "If I were reincarnated, I would wish to be returned to Earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels." - Prince Phillip, World Wildlife Fund
  • "Every time someone dies as a result of floods in Bangladesh, an airline executive should be dragged out of his office and drowned." - George Monbiot, environmental author, 2006.
  • "Free enterprise really means rich people get richer. They have the freedom to exploit and psychologically rape their fellow human beings in the process. ... Capitalism is destroying the earth." - Helen Caldicott, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • "Every time you turn on an electric light, you are making another brainless baby." - Helen Caldicott
  • "The only hope for the world is to make sure there is not another United States: We can't let other countries have the same number of cars, the amount of industrialization, we have in the U.S. We have to stop these Third World countries right where they are." - Michael Oppenheimer, Environmental Defense Fund
Seriously, I'm all in favor of conserving energy and being good stewards of the Earth and our natural resources. But can we can the rhetoric already? I think you're going to find change much easier to make if you lead by example rather than by verbally attacking people and making senseless, outrageous claims.

In completely coincidental, unrelated stories:
And I saved this one for last:
Congress pulls the plug on incandescents:
The light-bulb design Thomas Edison created in 1879 has been relatively unchanged for more than a century, but its days are numbered.

The death sentence comes courtesy of the federal energy bill signed into law in December. A provision will make it unlawful for stores to sell incandescent light bulbs beginning in 2012.

Customers will instead be asked to purchase compact fluorescent lights, which are more expensive but are said to last more than 10 times longer while using only a fraction of the wattage.
Are you kidding me? "Unlawful" to sell incandescent light bulbs? Not only are compact fluorescent bulbs more expensive, they are environmentally dangerous. I'm pretty sure the EPA doesn't have instructions for disposing of broken incandescent light bulbs, but the do have instructions for disposing of broken compact fluorescent bulbs, which contain mercury.

First, the EPA's general warning:
Humans use mercury in a variety of manufacturing processes and products such as thermometers and fluorescent lamps. If you improperly dispose of products with mercury in them, they may break and release mercury vapors which are harmful to human and ecological health.
  • Dispose of used mercury-containing items properly.
  • Clean up mercury spills properly and report them to the proper authorities when necessary.
You might want to write this next part down, because you'll need to have it handy by 2012, at least:

What Never to Do with a Mercury Spill

  • Never use a vacuum cleaner to clean up mercury (but see the "What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks" section below for more specific instructions about vacuuming broken fluorescent light bulbs). The vacuum will put mercury into the air and increase exposure. The vacuum appliance will be contaminated and have to be thrown away.

  • Never use a broom to clean up mercury. It will break the mercury into smaller droplets and spread them.

  • Never pour mercury down a drain. It may lodge in the plumbing and cause future problems during plumbing repairs. If discharged, it can cause pollution of the septic tank or sewage treatment plant.

  • Never wash mercury-contaminated items in a washing machine. Mercury may contaminate the machine and/or pollute sewage.

  • Never walk around if your shoes might be contaminated with mercury. Contaminated clothing can also spread mercury around.

What to Do if a Fluorescent Light Bulb Breaks

(EPA is continually reviewing its clean-up and disposal recommendations for CFLs to ensure that the Agency presents the most up-to-date information for consumers and businesses.)

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

  1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.

  2. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealed plastic bag.

    1. Use disposable rubber gloves, if available (i.e., do not use bare hands). Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the plastic bag.

    2. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.

  3. Place all cleanup materials in a second sealed plastic bag.

    1. Place the first bag in a second sealed plastic bag and put it in the outdoor trash container or in another outdoor protected area for the next normal trash disposal.
      Note: Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a local recycling center.

    2. Wash your hands after disposing of the bag.

  4. If a fluorescent bulb breaks on a rug or carpet:

    1. First, remove all materials you can without using a vacuum cleaner, following the steps above. Sticky tape (such as duct tape) can be used to pick up small pieces and powder.

    2. If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken, remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister) and put the bag or vacuum debris in two sealed plastic bags in the outdoor trash or protected outdoor location for normal disposal.

Ah, yes. The magic of two sealed plastic bags.

Here's a good question & answer from Energy Star's FAQ about compact fluorescent bulbs and mercury:
What precautions should I take when using CFLs in my home?
CFLs are made of glass and can break if dropped or roughly handled. Be careful when removing the bulb from its packaging, installing it, or replacing it. Always screw and unscrew the lamp by its base (not the glass), and never forcefully twist the CFL into a light socket. If a CFL breaks in your home, follow the clean-up recommendations below. Used CFLs should be disposed of properly (see below).
How do you unscrew a bulb by it's base?

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