What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 12, 2010

Jack Kelly Sunday

[STILL blogging from a secret undisclosed location - but I'll be back soon!]

In this week's column, Post-Gazette right winger Jack Kelly forces us to pose, yet again, the never retired question:
Doesn't Anyone Fact-Check Jack Kelly?
I don't have much time so I'll fact-check what I can.

Jack begins:
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.
And of course he fails to point out the obvious: the bill became law when it was signed by George W Bush.

Who else voted for the bill?

Both Republican Senators from Alabama, Sessions and Shelby.
Both Republican Senators from Alaska, Murkowski and Stevens.
Both Republican Senators from Georgia, Chambliss and Isakson.

There are more but did you know that current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted for this light bulb job killing bill? He did.

On the House side, local Congressman Tim Murphy voted for the bill.

Odd, doncha think, that Jack doesn't mention any of that.

But let's go further. Jack writes:
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.
Too bad Jack's fact-checker over there on the Boulevard of the Allies didn't check this FAQ at USNews. When asked about the comparative costs the answer is:
Each cone-shaped spiral CFL costs about $3, compared with 50 cents for a standard bulb. But a CFL uses about 75 percent less energy and lasts five years instead of a few months. A household that invested $90 in changing 30 fixtures to CFLs would save $440 to $1,500 over the five-year life of the bulbs, depending on your cost of electricity. Look at your utility bill and imagine a 12 percent discount to estimate the savings.
Huh. Jack doesn't mention that, either?

And about those migraines. The EU commissioned a study in 2008 on the effects of CFL's on "light sensitivity" and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) found that:
Within the context of the promotion of wide-spread use of energy saving lamps, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and the possible phase-out of incandescent lamps, it has been claimed that the symptoms of several diseases may be aggravated in the presence of energy saving lamps (mainly CFLs).

SCENIHR did not find suitable direct scientific data on the relationship between energy saving lamps and the symptoms in patients with various conditions (i.e xeroderma pigmentosum, lupus, migraine, epilepsy, myalgic encephalomyelitis, Irlen-Meares syndrome, fibromyalgia, electrosensitivity, AIDS/HIV, dyspraxia, and autism).

Therefore, SCENIHR examined whether three lamp characteristics (flicker, electromagnetic fields, and UV/blue light emission) could act as triggers for disease symptoms. Due to lack of data on CFLs, existing data on traditional fluorescent tubes were extrapolated to situations when compact fluorescent lamps may be used.
While for some conditions either flicker and/or UV/blue light could exacerbate symptoms, there is no reliable evidence that the use of fluorescent tubes was a significant contributor. [emphasis added.]

Then there's this:
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.
Jack even got this story wrong as anyone with 30 seconds and access to snopes.com would see. The original reporting from the Ellsworth American stated that Bridges called the Maine DEP, they told her to contact a cleanup contractor. The estimated cost was to be $2000. The Ellsworth American continued:
Because she didn't have two grand to hand over, Bridges sealed up the bedroom with plastic and tape.
A paragraph later they wrote:
DEP officials, meanwhile, tried to assure her there really was no need to spend any money or seal up the room.
Again, that was from the original reporting. And yet, Jack said the DEP "declared the bedroom a hazardous area and sealed it off with plastic."

Cue the fact-check chorus. Again.

Then there's the drivel about bedbugs:
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.
Too bad DDT doesn't work on bedbugs anymore either. From Newsweek:
DDT “devastated” bedbug populations when it was introduced in the 1940s, says Richard Cooper, technical director for Cooper Pest Solutions and a widely quoted authority on bedbug control. Mattresses were soaked in it, wallpaper came pre-treated with it. It also killed boll weevils, which fed on cotton buds and flowers (by far, the majority of DDT was applied to cotton fields), and, incidentally, it killed bald eagles and numerous other species of birds, the phenomenon that gave Carson her title. In the laboratory, DDT can cause cancer in animals; its effect on human beings has long been debated, but since it accumulates up the food chain, and stays in the body for years, the consensus among public-health experts was that it was better to act before effects showed up in the population. But long before the United States banned most uses of it in 1972, DDT had lost its effectiveness against bedbugs—which, like many fast-breeding insects, are extremely adept at evolving resistance to pesticides. “Bloggers talk about bringing back DDT,” says Bob Rosenberg, director of government affairs for the National Pest Management Association, “but we had stopped using it even before 1972.”

Nor is there any reason to think it would work better today; according to Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an urban entomologist at Cornell, among a wide variety of pesticides tested against bedbugs within the last two years, DDT performed the worst. [emphases added.]
P-G guys? Anyone looking over Jack's shoulder to stop him from doing this? Anyone at all?

You do know that he's making the rest of the paper look bad when he does this, right?

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

The other issue Kelly has with banning DDT was that he says malaria is back on the rise in the "underdeveloped world". Of course, the first question is what does the US ban have to do with other nations (answer: nothing)? Second, minimal research shows that not only does the international ban specifically exempt use of DDT to control malaria, but the US is now paying countries to use DDT.