Liberal pests run amok

Jack Kelly
Liberal pests run amok
Their environmental fetishes have cost jobs and lives
Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Washington Post ran a story Wednesday on the closing this month, in Winchester, Va., of the last factory in the United States that manufactures incandescent light bulbs. Two hundred workers will lose their jobs.

Those 200 jobs were among the first destroyed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Among their first acts after the Democrats took over Congress in 2007 was to pass a law which, essentially, bans the use of incandescent light bulbs by 2014. The law favors compact fluorescent light bulbs, most of which are manufactured in China.

The Washington Post said, “The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense.” But CFLs cost at least five times as much as incandescent bulbs and give off less light than the higher wattage incandescents. Prolonged exposure to fluorescent light can trigger migraine headaches.

And these are the least of the problems with CFLs, as Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, discovered when she dropped one in her daughter’s bedroom. CFLs contain mercury, a dangerous pollutant. Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection declared the bedroom a hazardous area and sealed it off with plastic. The cost of the cleanup was estimated at $2,000.

Democrats banned incandescent light bulbs because they use more electricity than do CFLs. Most electricity in the United States is generated by burning fossil fuels. Environmentalists estimate that if every household and business converts to CFLs, carbon emissions could be reduced by 90 million tons a year.

That sounds like a lot. But it is “a fart in a thunderstorm” compared to the 6 billion to 7 billion tons of carbon humans put into the atmosphere each year, says J.E. Dyer, who blogs at Hot Air.

And for this the government will spread nearly 50,000 pounds of mercury, “a highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in fetuses and children,” into every household in America. It won’t just be Brandy Bridges who’ll have big cleanup problems.

On another front, New York and other urban areas are suffering a major infestation of bedbugs — small, flat insects which feast on blood. They are not thought to spread disease, but their bites itch and can get infected if scratched.

Bedbugs were a common problem until the 1950s, when DDT essentially wiped them out. But a decade after Rachel Carson published her scary book about DDT, “Silent Spring,” in 1962, the pesticide was banned in the United States.

Exterminators quoted in an AP story in July said bedbugs have mounted a comeback chiefly because replacements for DDT don’t work.

“The environmentally friendly chemicals allow pests to come back,” said Andy Murrow of Egyptian Exterminating in Marion, Ill.

Bedbugs are merely annoying. The great tragedy of the DDT ban is the resurgence of malaria. DDT essentially wiped out malaria-bearing mosquitoes. Since the ban, some 50 million people in the underdeveloped world have died from the disease. If we attribute almost any proportion of those deaths to Carson, she has a lot of blood on her hands.

That would be tragedy enough, even if Carson had been right about the dangers posed by DDT. But she wasn’t. John Tierney, science writer for The New York Times, said she used “dubious statistics and anecdotes” to create a “hodgepodge of science and junk science.”

When “Silent Spring” came out, it was destroyed in a review by Dr. I. L. Baldwin, a professor of agricultural bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin, who had headed a committee at the National Academy of Sciences which studied the effect of pesticides on wildlife.

Dr. Baldwin pointed out many errors and exaggerations in Ms. Carson’s book and predicted the harm that would be done by banning DDT. But liberals in journalism and politics paid no attention. They prefer junk science to the real thing.

These stories suggest liberalism is a darkness spreading across America, and liberals are nasty little pests who will never leave you alone.

Liberals were unmoved by the massive suffering the DDT ban has caused in Asia and Africa. But perhaps the arrival of bedbugs on Manhattan’s Upper West Side will change their minds. And perhaps a Republican Congress in 2011 will lift the ban on incandescent light bulbs and give those poor people in Winchester their jobs back. If not, perhaps the cartels in Mexico will eschew trafficking in humans and drugs for more lucrative smuggling of light bulbs and DDT.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The (Toledo)

Liberal pests run amok.