World Net Daily’s inaccuracies and blatant, fact-bending bias would be the source of much great humor, if so many gullible conservatives did not take the thing seriously.
Recently WND featured a story about the impossibility of changing light bulbs to save energy, alleging that doing so might turn one’s home into a toxic waste dump that costs $2,000 per bulb to clean up. Was anyone suckered in by the story?
Chiefly, that these news outlets got suckered is evidence they need better copy editors and fact checkers. Time for such news organizations to raise the pay of their “morgue” keepers and librarians, to get the facts straight.
WND claimed to get the story from the Ellsworth, Maine, American. But that story doesn’t really square with WND’s breathless Chicken Little recounting. It notes that Maine DEP said the clean up could be done manually, and that there is no significant danger from one broken bulb.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Star carried a simple how-to article on changing out your own incandescent lightbulbs for fluorescent, here:
Once I got home and screwed them all in, I did some number crunching. Most light bulbs are on for around three hours a day, according to Toronto Hydro. I figured we’d only use the ones in the bathroom for two hours a day. At that rate, by the end of the year, we’ll have saved 779 kilowatt hours with the new bulbs. That’s almost a whole month’s worth of electricity in our home.
As electricity costs around $10 an hour, that will save $78 in first year. We’ll get our investment back within two years.
What will it mean for the environment?
I checked out Toronto Hydro’s carbon calculator. Cutting 65 kilowatt-hours on average each month means 216 fewer kilograms of carbon dioxide spilled out of Nanticoke or another power plant. That’s as much as we would emit driving 717 kilometres.
Not bad for an afternoon.
Worldnet Daily complained that going green could be dangerous, citing as their example a woman in Maine who installed some compact fluorescent lights (CFL), only to have one break. The story took a very bizarre turn, according to the gullibles at Worldnet Daily. They claim the woman then read the warning on the bulbs (they contain minute amounts of mercury, as do all fluorescent bulbs); worried she called poison control about cleaning up the mess. Poison control contacted Maine’s environmental protectors, and they in turn tested the bedroom the bulb was broken in, and determined it was a hazardous waste site. Hazardous waste cleanup would cost some $2,000, the woman was quoted as saying.
The woman had sealed up the bedroom in her house and made her daughter sleep on the couch, according to WND
Fragmented, and logically corrupted as it is, it’s a strong argument against being environmentally friendly, if the story were accurate.
Checking the facts is where WND’s stuff goes completely off the rails. The story is not accurate at all. I made a quick call to Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection got a quick response: Whatever the local company’s estimate for a hazardous substance clean-up, and however this fiasco got that far, the amount of mercury in the affected room was minuscule, and certainly not hazardous.
A damp rag cleaned up any mercury wastes. A broom made the room safe.
[There is mercury in the bulbs, in very small amounts; this link gets to a site with instructions of how to safely and properly clean up after a broken fluorescent bulb.]
The incident makes several points.
First, Worldnet Daily is utterly without journalism ethics. From what I can gather, it appears to me they did not make even a cursory check of the facts. Their story as published just didn’t add up (Why would any homeowner call for a hazmat team for a broken lightbulb? How could a hazmat team screw up measuring mercury levels so badly? How could a properly trained, diligent hazmat team leave one room in a residence contaminated?) Either the reporter and editors lack normal human skepticism and curiosity, or for political reasons they did not ask questions they should have asked.
Having not asked those questions, they should not have published.
Second, CFLs do not make hazardous mercury spills by themselves. Careful cleanup is required if one breaks. Consumers need to dispose of spent bulbs carefully. A concentration of thousands of fluorescent bulbs in an improperly lined and monitored landfill could contaminate groundwater. One broken bulb does not cost $2,000 to clean up.
Third, going green will not be threatened by ridiculous costs of ill-prepared-for hazards of gross proportions.
Fourth, anyone who reads WND and gives the publication any credence, should know better.
See follow-up story here — after Joseph Farah repeated the sins!