By “typical” I don’t mean the sort of programmed distortions or shady and selective treatment of data common to people who speak in scientific language, but the output of right-wing bloggers who are scientifically illiterate. After all, there are a lot more people who don’t understand the pertinent concepts than folks who do. So, although to most Science Blogs readers the debunking of a workaday rant from the sort of clown still beating the OBAMA, HE NO HAVE PROPER BIRTH CERTIFCATE! drum (apparently these guys think that they’re eventually going to uncover something that the GOP and U.S. Congress obviously did not) is a superfluous exercise, it’s perhaps worth a glimpse at how your neighbor chooses to view things.
This Porter Good/William Teach guy writes for Stop the ACLU, so you already know he’s deftly combined the literacy of a fifth-grader with the analytical powers of snot and basted the result with the objectivity of Pat Robertson. He also has how own blog, and on this blog he wrote a post called “AGW Today: Mercury and OMG WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” (Although an attempted foray into parody, this hysterical tone is, amusingly, pretty much this writer’s natural, unwavering style.)
I left a comment under his post, and I’ve more or less reproduced it below.
“[T]he U.N., along with all the usual AGW suspects, is pushing everyone to replace their all their light non-CFL bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Lamp’s, which, let’s see…..contain mercury!”
First of all, it hurts my eyes when people put an apostrophe in a plural word like “lamps.” Second, take a look at the information in Good’s own source:
* No mercury is released when the CFL is intact or in use.
* A CFL contains a maximum of 5 mg of mercury.
If 5 mg of elemental mercury–something like 1,000 times less than is contained in a thermometer–were to disperse in a typical room, the effect would be extremely unlikely to produce any toxicity. OSHA sets a limit of 0.05 mg per cubic meter averaged over 8 hours. A typical medium-sized room is about 25 cubic meters in volume. Do the math, and you find that even if all of the mercury from a CFL were to immediately vaporize upon exposure to air (which it surely would not), there would not be enough of it to cause problems.
So unless someone plans on smashing as many CFLs as possible in a small enclosed space, the insinuation that the mercury contained in CFLs is or could be dangerous is inane.
“On a note separate from AGW, it is interesting that they are so worried about mercury (which they should be) but have seemingly little concern about the millions who die because the international community smacks around countries who use DDT.”
I don’t know the basis for this claim, but I wonder, does Good figure that the U.N. also condones murder, rape, and kiddie porn owing to its stances on climate change and CFLs?
“Everybody panic! What we are talking about is a new report that is being cited, but not linked anywhere I can find, that shows that carbon emissions have been growing at 3.5 percent per year since 2000, which is up sharply from the 0.9 percent per year in the 1990s.”
He doesn’t say where he’s seen this report cited, as it’s not in the WaPo article he linked. What he’s talking about is Chris Field’s presentation just the previous day at the annual meeting of American Association for the Advancement of Science:
Despite widespread concern over global warming, humans are adding carbon to the atmosphere even faster than in the 1990s, researchers warned Saturday.
Carbon dioxide and other gases added to the air by industrial and other activities have been blamed for rising temperatures, increasing worries about possible major changes in weather and climate.
Carbon emissions have been growing at 3.5 percent per year since 2000, up sharply from the 0.9 percent per year in the 1990s, Christopher Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“It is now outside the entire envelope of possibilities” considered in the 2007 report of the International Panel on Climate Change, he said. The IPCC and former vice president Al Gore received the Nobel Prize for drawing attention to the dangers of climate change.
I imagine it will be a few days before the report itself is accessible on the AAAS Web site or perhaps on Stanford University’s. But Porter Good surely won’t look for it, and even if he does he won’t read it with comprehension, and even if he does that he’ll undoubtedly dismiss it anyway with his usual straw man approach: “OMG, SCIENTISTS ARE SAYING WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE FROM AGW TOMORROW!” Nuances mean as little to people like this as sound science does.
“And despite all that, the climate temps have been flat or going down for the past 10 years. Strange, huh?”
Does he cite a source for this? No, but that’s OK–I left him some data from NASA to consider:
This graph reveals the average temperature deviation above and below the mean, given in both one-year and five-year periods. That is, it’s a measure of anomaly, not temperature itself. But you can see what it demonstrates, and it’s only one of several data sets I or anyone might produce that lays waste to Good’s assertion about recent temperatures. “It has only gotten colder this decade” and “it’s all sunspots anyway” are memes that have no basis in anything besides the usual noise made by dolts in response to what they’re certain is a lefty conspiracy–refrains that have, quite predictably, have become almost as popular among wingnuts as “it’s January and it’s cold as shit in Saskatchewan, LOL warming!!!”
“The last one is my favorite. If the Earth is warming up so fast, and supposedly now worse then ever, what need do we have for an icebreaker, when there will be no ice in the polar regions, particularly after the alarmist reports that all the polar ice will be gone?”
I asked Good to cite one of these “alarmist reports” from climate scientists who claim that the polar ice will be gone altogether within the next bunch of years or whatever. He hasn’t replied.
This is truly an awful post, yet it’s nothing out of the ordinary, and the same guy will ignore the replies and post something very similar the next chance he gets. When people combine howling bias with rank ignorance, the results can be devastating.
This, by the way, is a much more thorough and sophisticated post about climate-change denialism tha the one you just read.