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Friday, December 23, 2011

WHEN MERCURY ISN'T BAD

"There's no evidence that brief exposure to the mercury in a broken bulb presents a health risk to you or your family."
-EPA Brochure on CFLs

Broken CFL
I recall back when OSPIRG thought I would donate money to them, some heaving she-beast would knock on the door (I'm not kidding, they must have gone looking under Norwegian bridges for these terrifying college age... things. I think they were female). She would have a clipboard and breathlessly tell me that President Bush was allowing .00000001% more mercury into our water and what about the children??

That policy, I calmly informed the creature, was set up by President Clinton in office, and only changed his last weeks while president to restrict water to lower mercury levels. If we survived 8 years of Clinton's mercury levels, why now is it ending the world?

Mercury is bad, so lowering it is always good, she would argue.

Investor's Business Daily has a good editorial up about mercury today. The EPA is spending millions and lots of time trying to reduce mercury even lower right now. "Mercury is a neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children, and emissions of mercury and other air toxics have been linked to damage to developing nervous systems, respiratory illnesses and other diseases," says EPA director Lisa Jackson, following the OSPIRG creature's logic of mercury bad, less mercury good. Whether we're presently at safe and reasonable levels doesn't fit into this argument at all. Less is good, so we should force businesses to put out less.

The new plan would cost $10,00,000,000 a year to cut their mercury emissions, and the editorial asks a good question:
The EPA thinks it's worth spending billions of dollars each year to reduce already minuscule amounts of mercury in the outside air. So why is it trying to shove mercury-laced fluorescent bulbs into everyone's homes?
A German science group demonstrated that these fluorescent bulbs emit trace amounts of mercury while in operation. So why is this preferable to incandescent bulbs if mercury is always bad and we need less?

The answer of course is that postmodern relativist thinkers don't give a damn about consistency or logic. They compartmentalize everything and are so confident they're so enlightened, smart, and gosh darn good they can make it all work, no matter how contradictory. Mercury hurts kids, so we have to force businesses to cut their emissions. Incandescent bulbs use up too much energy so they have to be banned; who cares about mercury, we're saving the planet!

They can hold both of these positions at the same time in the same context and not face the fact that they've violated the basic law of non-contradiction. And they're in charge, with our money, making these decisions and forcing them on us. Until we change it. Will we?

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