Posted by: bkivey | 22 April 2011

Earth Day

Today marks the 41st anniversary of the neo-pagan observance known as Earth Day. It’s a big deal, with major news organizations devoting significant coverage to the various celebrations, as a brief survey around the Net reveals:

Google News – One tangentially related story in the Business section. It involves Starbucks.

MSN.com –  A feature on endangered and new species. Related, but not primary to the subject.

Yahoo!: – A story on endangered places and an article on changing buying habits. Nothing on Earth Day itself.

AOL: – Some pretty pictures of the Earth. No Earth Day-specific content.

CNN: – Hey, here’s a section devoted to Earth Day items! Must be the Jane Fonda connection.

FOX News: – Features on eco-gadgets, ‘green’ homes, and a video on student celebrations of Earth Day.

NPR: – Nada. Surprising that the government-run radio service doesn’t have any content related to the official government religion.

Earth Day started as an outgrowth of the hippie sub-culture and when it started the world was a much different place than today. In 1970 large areas of the country and world were heavily polluted. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire in 1969, and in the early ’70’s a classmate of mine contracted hepatitis after falling into the Hudson River. The place was a mess, and Earth Day was a way for concerned people to focus their attention on sorely needed solutions to some pressing problems.

The passing of sweeping environmental regulations in the Western democracies during the 1970’s and further refinement and implementation during the ’80’s and ’90’s mitigated and eliminated pollution problems to an extent that would have seemed wildly improbable in the late ’60’s. So successful were those efforts that now government environmental agencies and environmental NGO’s are justifying their existence through ever-finer standards that in many cases have passed the bounds of reasonable regulatory and economic limits. The effort has succeeded, but as is human wont, people wrapped up in a cause won’t let go and can’t make the transition from crusader to caretaker.

As success in the initial justification for Earth Day has been achieved, the environmental movement itself has gone from an inclusive problem-solving effort to an oppressive tyranny of the well-intentioned. Forty years ago citizens in the industrial democracies were happy to pitch in: no one wants to drink unclean water or breathe dirty air. Now the environmental movement is all about making people feel guilty about nothing more than living their lives. Never mind that a robust environmental movement is a luxury affordable only to rich societies; ask an Indian worker to ride a  bicycle rather than buy a car and they’ll laugh in your face, the vision of the neo-pagan is a world where everyone is equally poor and equally miserable. This attitude speaks to a mindset that is fundamentally self-hating and guilt-ridden for no other reason than being human.

It’s instructive to compare Earth Day with the Christian celebration of Easter. Easter is a celebration of the Resurrection and its message of hope and redemption. It’s the highpoint of the Christian calendar, and there are no more joyful words than those spoken at the beginning of service on Easter Sunday: He is risen.

Earth Day in its present form is exactly the opposite. It’s all about guilt and the intolerance of the anointed for the unwashed masses who just don’t know enough to place the natural world above humanity. And it’s such a hypocritical intolerance. I’m not seeing a lot of Earth Day activities and demonstrations in the countries that have the lowest environmental standards. No, like all bullies, the environmentalists only go after soft targets. How much easier to brow-beat people who have been conditioned for a generation and more to be self-hating by the enviro-bullies.

The argument has been made that Earth Day, and by implication the environmental movement, was good in its day but is now quickly fading to irrelevance. I would say that this is true in the Western world, but there is much useful work the environmental movement can do in other parts of the world, if only they have the courage of their convictions.

CFL vs. Incandescent

If you break a light bulb, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you break out the broom and dustpan, sweep up the debris, and throw it in the trash. No muss, no fuss. So, to review, the steps are:

  • Sweep up debris.
  • Toss in trash.

Well, if that lightbulb is an eco-friendly CFL, you’ve got a real problem on your hands. From the State of Maine, the state-acceptable procedure for cleaning up a CFL breakage are:

Do not use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the breakage. This will spread the mercury vapor and dust throughout the area and could potentially contaminate the vacuum.
• Keep people and pets away from the breakage area until the cleanup is complete.
• Ventilate the area by opening windows, and leave the area for 15 minutes before returning to begin the cleanup. Mercury vapor levels will be lower by then.
• For maximum protection and if you have them, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the sharp glass.
• Carefully remove the larger pieces and place them in a secure closed container, preferably a glass container with a metal screw top lid and seal like a canning jar.40 A glass jar with a good seal works best to contain any mercury vapors inside.
• Next, begin collecting the smaller pieces and dust. You can use two stiff pieces of paper such as index cards or playing cards to scoop up pieces.
• Pat the area with the sticky side of duct tape, packing tape or masking tape to pick up fine particles. Wipe the area with a wet wipe or damp paper towel to pick up even finer particles.
• Put all waste and materials into the glass container, including all material used in the cleanup that may have been contaminated with mercury. Label the container as “Universal Waste -broken lamp.”
• Remove the container with the breakage and cleanup materials from your home. This is particularly important if you do not have a glass container.
• Continue ventilating the room for several hours.
• Wash your hands and face.
• Take the glass container with the waste material to a facility that accepts “universal waste” for recycling. To determine where your municipality has made arrangements for recycling of this type of waste, call your municipal office or go to MaineDEP.com, click on “Fluorescent Light Bulb Information” and look for the link to municipal collection sites.
• When a break happens on carpeting, homeowners may consider removing throw rugs or the area of carpet where the breakage occurred as a precaution, particularly if the rug is in an area frequented by infants, small children or pregnant women.
• Finally, if the carpet is not removed, open the window to the room during the next several times you vacuum the carpet to provide good ventilation.

And then there’s this recommendation:

“The next time you replace a lamp, consider putting a drop cloth on the floor so that any accidental breakage can be easily cleaned up.”

Tell me again how products that are less convenient to use and pose a significant health risk are improving my standard of living.

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