Monday, March 07, 2011

A false prophecy from 1954


'We will not pick up toxic new bulbs': British councils say energy-saving lights are too dangerous for binmen

What are people supposed to do? Eat them? One has to feel sorry for ordinary Brits but it is their own ingrained socialism that is destroying their quality of life

Councils across the UK are refusing to pick up low-energy lightbulbs from homes as they contain toxic mercury, which gives off poisonous vapours. But confused consumers are putting the new bulbs – classed as hazardous waste – in their dustbins when they burn out, potentially putting the safety of thousands of binmen at risk.

Previously, the public disposed of traditional lightbulbs, used in Britain for 120 years, in a domestic bin. However, they are being phased out under a European Union ruling and are being replaced with energy-saving bulbs, many of which contain mercury.

Last night UNISON, the union which represents thousands of rubbish collectors across Britain, said it was concerned at the risks binmen are facing. A spokeswoman said: ‘We are worried as most people do not know these bulbs are not to be put in dustbins. The Government is not doing enough to make people aware of the risks.’

The most common types of low-energy bulbs are known as ‘compact fluorescent lamps’. A study by Germany’s Federal Environment Agency found that when one of them breaks, it emits levels of toxic vapour up to 20 times higher than the safe guideline limit for an indoor area.

If a bulb is smashed, the UK’s Health Protection Agency advice is for householders to evacuate the room and leave it to ventilate for 15 minutes. People are also advised to wear protective gloves while wiping the area of the break with a damp cloth and picking up fragments of glass – which should be placed in a plastic bag and sealed.

The advice then states the lightbulb should be taken to a council dump and placed in a special recycling bank because councils do not collect hazardous waste.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed many councils will not collect the bulbs. A spokesman said last night: ‘If a low-energy lightbulb breaks, the mercury contained in it does not pose a health risk to anyone exposed.’


Rising ocean temperatures will be devastating for sea urchins and abalone

Since ocean temperatures are NOT rising, this is a faint worry. And even if they were rising, any foreseeable rise would simply shift climatic zones a little, so NOTHING would be endangered either way

MARINE abalone and sea urchins in Sydney Harbour will not develop normal skeletons if the ocean continues to warm and acidify as predicted, a study has found. Such impaired development could have a dramatic effect on the survival of these economically and ecologically important sea creatures.

A group of Australian marine biologists reared abalone and sea urchins in present ocean conditions and compared them with young raised in warmer, more acidic environments that scientists predict will become reality for the world's oceans within the next 100 years.

While abalone larvae raised in control conditions had a well-developed shell after 21 hours of life, most larvae reared in water with a pH of 7.6 - a 0.4 drop in pH level compared with today - were dead or severely abnormal after the same time frame. An increase in temperature of just two degrees had a negative effect on baby abalone development and only 20 per cent of young raised in water four degrees warmer than today survived.

The study found developing abalone had only a limited ability to cope with changes in temperature and acidity, and larvae could not recover and grow shells when they were placed in normal conditions.

"Near-future ocean conditions resulted in unshelled abalone larvae, a condition that prevents survival to the juvenile stage," wrote the authors, whose study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

While urchins liked a slight increase in temperature, a lower pH reduced the number of spines juveniles could grow. But a combination of lower pH and increased temperature resulted in abnormal development for 80 per cent of young.

A marine biologist and lead author of the research, Maria Byrne, said Sydney Harbour could experience extreme temperature and pH conditions, such as those used in the experiments, by 2070 to 2100. "We are warming appreciably faster than other parts of the world because we have the East Australian Current which is bringing warm water all the way down the coast to Tasmania."


Radiation mythology exploded

There has been for many years a wealth of data showing that low to medium doses of ionizing rationion are at least harmless (with Tsutomu Yamaguchi being a striking example) but getting that fact past conventional alarmist dogma is the hard part. The scientists below did it the hard way

The summer of 1994 was our first season together in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, a region within a 30-kilometer radius of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. We were there to investigate the long-term biological effects of ionizing radiation following the catastrophic explosion and fire at reactor number four on April 26, 1986, which released plumes of radionuclides that spread across Europe.

We were only 2 kilometers from the defunct power plant, and the area was still so radioactive that our Geiger counters were perpetually abuzz. Although the "Zone" was now nearly deserted-more than 135,000 people had been evacuated from the region-we were amazed by the diversity of mammals living in the shadow of the ruined reactor only eight years after the meltdown.

The odd juxtaposition was eerily reminiscent of one of the creepier Twilight Zone episodes. We were in an area known as the "red forest," so named from the predominant hue of the trees, which had been discolored in death by the radiation. All the pine trees were dead; only birches remained.

During our excursion through the woods, we trapped some of the local mice for examination in a makeshift laboratory. We were surprised to find that although each mouse registered unprecedented levels of radiation in its bones and muscles, all the animals seemed physically normal, and many of the females were carrying normal-looking embryos. This was true for pretty much every creature we examined-highly radioactive, but physically normal.

It was the first of many revelations. We have now spent 12 years trying to sort out the effects of a radioactive environment on the local wildlife. We have performed a variety of experiments in the Zone.

In one of our earliest studies, we found that the resident mouse population did not have any obvious chromosomal damage. We wondered whether the absence of injury could be explained by some sort of adaptive change, perhaps a more efficient DNA-repair mechanism, after many prior generations of exposure to radiation. But when we transplanted wild mice from uncontaminated regions into cages in the red forest and then examined their chromosomes, they were likewise unaffected by the radiation. In at least this respect, the mice seemed to have a natural "immunity" to harm from radiation.

We repeated the cage experiments with Big Blue transgenic mice-which carry a gene that glows "blue" if it undergoes a mutation-and radiosensitive mice to look for evidence of chromosome breakage, genetic aberrations and changes in gene expression. The genetic impacts proved to be subtle and not likely to threaten the rodent's reproductive success or longevity. We also compared the genetic variations of populations inside the Zone with those from relatively uncontaminated areas, and we found no evidence of increased mutation rates from exposure to radioactivity.

It turns out that the nascent field of radioecology is much more complicated than we had expected. Radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl accident was not deposited uniformly around the reactor. Distinct "excursions," known as the northern and western traces, carried the ash in plumes across the countryside and through the city of Pripyat, a mere 3 kilometers from the power plant. This produced a mosaic of radioactive habitats that are separated by relatively unaffected areas. Such heterogeneity makes it difficult to evaluate the effects on animal populations because animals from "clean" habitats might migrate into the contaminated areas.

The complexity of the habitats is exacerbated by the presence of non-radioactive pollutants. Vincent Bahryaktor, vice president of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, has said that "Northern Ukraine is the cleanest part of our country; it has only radiation." Unfortunately, this isn't quite true. Decades of uncontrolled waste management have contaminated the region with heavy metals, petrochemicals and pesticides.

Radiation doses have declined precipitously since the accident-less than 3 percent of the initial radioactivity remains. Nevertheless, the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone still offers a unique outdoor laboratory to examine the fate and the effects of a radioactive environment. The abandoned city of Pripyat is now largely a forest with buildings poking above the treetops.

After the initial decline of the animal populations, which were decimated by radioactive fallout, wildlife is now thriving. The region has become a refuge for released populations of Przewalski's horse and European bison. The population densities of Russian wild boar are 10 to 15 times greater in the Zone than in adjacent areas inhabited by people. Endangered black storks and white-tailed eagles are also more common in the Zone. The "Exclusion Zone" has effectively become a preserve.

We were completely taken aback by what we saw that first summer in Chernobyl, and we continue to be challenged by what we encounter in that strangely beautiful environment. Our endeavors have led to some of the happiest and bleakest moments in our professional lives. We now recognize that we were terribly naive about radioecology and the politics of scientific research when we first started this work. But we've gained some wisdom along the way, and here we'd like to share what we've learned from our experiences in the form of brief lessons.

Lesson 1:

Beautiful theories are often destroyed by ugly facts. It may be a cliche, but it seems that nearly everyone must learn this lesson at some point in their scientific careers. In our case, the beautiful theory involved little rodents, voles of the genus Microtus.

We found a great deal of genetic variation when we first examined the voles within the Exclusion Zone, and because the genetic differences were linked to different sites within the Zone, we naturally assumed that the variations were caused by diverse exposures to radiation.

To our chagrin, a chromosomal analysis revealed that we were actually studying the natural variation of four species of Microtus, not a single species, as we had believed. It was evolutionary time, not mutagenic radiation, that accounted for the genetic differences we observed.

What had promised to be a quick expose of the radiation effects from the Chernobyl fallout proved to be a lesson in taxonomy. It also revealed a prejudice we had about the potential effects of radiation. We caught the error early in our investigations, but we were still disappointed.


These people think you're stupid: Cooling demonstrates warming

Starbucks raises coffee prices because global warming is allegedly causing colder nights in Costa Rica?
Climate change takes toll on coffee growers, drinkers too. Last fall, Starbucks raised prices on some drinks to offset rising costs on commodities, notably coffee.

Global warming — more accurately called climate change — poses "a direct business threat to our company," Starbucks executive Jim Hanna told an Environmental Protection Agency panel in 2009 in Seattle...

On the slopes of Volcano Poás, the biggest threats are colder nights, fiercer winds and rain that falls too hard and at the wrong times. Temperatures at Flores' coffee farms on Poás used to stay above 60 degrees at night, but now are dropping to 52 degrees.


Australia: Greens lead country along a costly path

(Australia has an influential Green party that is in coalition with the Leftists to form the Federal government)

A DANGEROUS new dynamic has entered Australian economic management, Green voodoo economics. It threatens to not only make a weak Government even more ineffectual, but to do real lasting damage to our economy and its future.

The Greens appear to truly believe economics works in such a way that they can have their cake and eat it too. They want to tax the nasty carbon polluters without impacting on consumers. If only it was truly that simple.

Bob Brown tells us he "wants the polluters to pay". What he fails to realise is that we have seen the polluters and they are us.

Every time we drive a car, we are, in his words, polluting. Unless we have very expensive green power, every time we turn on the TV or dishwasher or any other electric appliance, we are polluting. Every time we turn the lights on in an office or use the lift or buy something that has been transported by a truck, we are polluting.

If we want to tax carbon then someone has to pay, and it will not be some anonymous nasty big business, it will be the consumer. It will be us.

As a scientist I believe that climate change is both real and caused by our carbon emissions. It is obvious that something has to be done to seriously limit emissions on a global scale. As an economist, I can see major damage being done to our economy if we go about this in a naive and ham-fisted way.

The clear policy influence that the Greens are now exerting, together with the extreme policy caution of the new Government, provides little hope of any sensible outcome. Rather a carbon tax in the absence of any permitting system to actually limit emissions will almost certainly result in higher prices with little if anything by way of emissions reductions to show for it.

All a carbon tax is likely to do is make the Greens feel good and do lasting damage to the economy.

Be in no doubt that this will be a job-destroying, wealth-destroying tax, but the real issue here is that massive changes in our economy are being decided on the basis of short-term political convenience and ridiculous idealistic and ideological notions of how economics works.

In reality, we now have the least economically competent government since the disastrous Whitlam years of 1972-75. Just like then, we have a Prime Minister who appears disinterested in economic realities and an incredibly powerful bloc from the Left who, while well-meaning, have no idea of the real consequences of the road they are hell-bent on taking us down.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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