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At the turn of the twentieth century, as the age of automobiles was afoot, the newfangled gasoline-powered internal combustion engine began to reach the limitations of the fuel that fed it. As higher-compression designs were tried, an engine-wrecking condition known as “knock” or “ping” would invariably develop. Though they didn’t know it at the time, the noisy destruction was caused when the increased heat and pressure prompted the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder to detonate all at once as opposed to an orderly burn. In spite of this problem, there was a demand for high-compression designs since they provided increased horsepower and fuel efficiency. The latter was particularly appealing in light of America’s forecasted fuel famine.
In 1921, after a long string of inadequate solutions, a clever but chronically catastrophic chemist named Thomas Midgley developed a fuel additive which eliminated ping problems while increasing fuel efficiency. Though the chemical agent eventually gained worldwide acceptance, it left a rash of psychosis, a trail of bodies, an epidemic of crime, and an irreparably damaged environment in its wake.
Mr. Midgley’s anti-knock enterprise began in 1916, when he was tasked by his employer to address the shortcoming in America’s gasoline. Knock was particularly problematic in aviation applications, where high-performance aircraft engines were stymied by America’s low-grade fuel supply. It had long been known that adding a large amount of ethyl alcohol to gasoline would eliminate the engine-injuring knock, however such blended fuels were much more expensive and had an inferior energy-to-weight ratio, making them a poor substitute.
Working for the General Motors Research Corporation over several years, Midgley pinched all manner of substances into his one-cylinder laboratory engine to test for anti-knock properties. After trying hundreds of candidate compounds— including such unlikely materials as camphor and melted butter— Midgley’s boss Charles Kettering pointed out that certain red flowers were able to bloom in the snow. The researchers wondered whether the red color allowed greater heat absorption. Lacking any red dye, the chemists added a splash of violet-colored iodine to their fuel, and found that it dramatically reduced the knock in their test engine. Unfortunately iodine was too corrosive and expensive to consider as an additive, but the results suggested that a small dab of the right chemical might be all they needed. When the researchers later tried some actual red dye, it had no effect; their red-color reasoning had been flawed, but fortuitous.
With the guidance of their accidental discovery, Mr. Midgley’s team tacked sections of the Periodic Table of Elements to the laboratory wall, and used it to single out the compounds with promising properties. This step-by-step process gradually revealed additives of varying effectiveness, but most of the best candidates produced a fragrance that was a grave insult to the olfactories. “I doubt if humanity, even to doubling of fuel economy, will put up with this smell,” Midgley confided in a letter to a colleague at Du Pont. But a few potentials remained among the heavier carbon elements. Neither silicon nor germanium worked too well, but an organometallic tin-based liquid called tetra-ethyl tin nearly silenced the knock, and with no objectionable odor. Only lead remained to be tried, an exciting prospect due to lead’s extreme low cost. Since America’s existing oil fields were dwindling, and imported oil was costly, the discovery of an inexpensive mileage-increasing additive was certain to bring with it a river of money.
The company chemistry lab cooked up a modest batch of tetra-ethyl lead (TEL) on 09 December 1921, and the researchers squeezed a few drops into their test rig. To their delight, even a tiny amount of the thrifty fluid completely silenced the engine knock. The smidgen of lead had effectively increased the temperature at which the gasoline ignited, a fuel characteristic which would come to be known as its octane rating. Midgley and his men, it is said, danced “a very unscientific jig” in celebration.
Lead had one decisive drawback, however, which was its tendency to cause harmful deposits in human blood, bones, and brains. Lead poisoning had long been known to cause such alarming maladies as spasms, hallucinations, seizures, blindness, kidney failure, brain damage, madness, coma, and death. Even worse, the effects were often caused by “slow, subtle, insidious saturation” rather than significant exposure events. But in spite of lead’s well-known neurotoxic qualities, it was still common in the US in the nineteen-dicketies, used as a major component in food containers, water tanks, house paint, and fruit pesticides, among many other things. Though naturally-occurring lead is extremely rare, it was cheap to refine, and a cinch to manipulate.
As Mr. Midgley labored to perfect his TEL recipe throughout 1922, the world outside of the US was developing a strong preference for all things unleaded. In that very year the League of Nations recommended a ban on interior lead paints due to health concerns, and though Europe complied, the United States declined to adopt the resolution. Midgley received numerous letters from distinguished scientists around the world, urging him away from the “creeping and malicious poison” of tetra-ethyl lead, citing its role in the death of researchers. According to some estimates, each gallon of leaded gasoline burned would emit four grams of lead oxide, resulting in buildup along roadsides and in tunnels, as well as in the air. The warnings went unheeded.
General Motors’ President Pierre du Pont demonstrated his company’s awareness of TEL’s dangers by describing it in a letter as “a colorless liquid of sweetish odor, very poisonous if absorbed through the skin, resulting in lead poisoning almost immediately.” In December 1922, the US Surgeon General wrote to GM regarding growing concerns that environmental lead would become a serious menace to public health. Midgley responded personally, even as he was preparing to winter in Miami for some “fresh air” to treat his own mild case of lead poisoning. The matter of TEL pollution had been given “very serious consideration,” he wrote, but “no actual experimental data has been taken.” Nonetheless, he stated that “the average street will probably be so free from lead that it will be impossible to detect it or its absorption.”
To manufacture and market their incredible new engine-enhancing additive— which had been dubbed Ethyl— General Motors partnered with Standard Oil and Du Pont to form the Ethyl Gasoline Corporation. Charles Kettering was installed as the president, with Thomas Midgley as vice-president. Their product went on sale in 1923, and underwent a couple early tweaks to add lead scavenger compounds to prevent pesky engine deposits. Consumers showed interest, particularly after the Indianapolis 500 motorcar race on Memorial Day 1923, where the first, second, and third-place cars were all fueled by Ethyl gasoline. After that, the fortified fuel enjoyed rapid widespread adoption, and indeed it lived up to its mechanical claims. In a note to Kettering, Midgley estimated that Ethyl would eventually be adopted by at least 20% of the nation’s fuel supply, providing an annual gross profit of about $36 million. His note was unspecific regarding the dancing of any additional unscientific jigs.
Shortly after the Ethyl factories sprang into action, the mind-dulling effects of lead began to manifest in the workers. Disorientation, impaired judgment, and a staggered gait plagued the lead-polluted employees, and the larger facility in Deepwater came to be known as the “House of Butterflies” owing to the insect hallucinations frequently experienced there. As Ethyl handlers began to turn up at doctors’ offices, hospitals, and morgues, the Ethyl Corporation was quick to blame the victims. “We could not get this across to the boys,” Charles Kettering claimed, “We put watchmen in at the plant, and they used to snap the stuff at each other, and throw it at each other, and they were saying that they were sissies. They did not realize what they were working with.”
In 1923 the Bureau of Mines conducted tests for General Motors, under the stipulation that GM management reserve the right of “comment, criticism, and approval” for all findings prior to their publication. Various animals were exposed to leaded gasoline exhaust from a small engine, and the results stated that the animals were “without harm of any kind.” Some scientists decried the inadequate experiments, pointing out that the animals were only exposed to a passing stream of lightly leaded exhaust, but not to lingering accumulations.
Following the death of one worker and irreversible derangement among others at an Ethyl factory in October 1924, the chief chemist there told reporters, “These men probably went insane because they worked too hard.” Within days, four additional workers from the plant died, and thirty-six others were crippled with incurable neurological damage. The plant, it seemed, had employed many hard workers.
Meanwhile, Ethyl vice president Thomas Midgley addressed the press. “I’m not taking any chance whatever,” he is said to have told gathered journalists as he drizzled Ethyl fluid over his hands and inhaled the fumes. “Nor would I take any chance doing that every day.” The reporters dutifully passed this comforting anecdote on to their readers, and consumers’ concerns were calmed.
As demand for Ethyl additive increased across the country, the US Surgeon General launched a series of public inquiries regarding the health risks of leaded fuel. In response, Ethyl voluntarily withdrew its product from the market for the duration of the investigations. The details of over a dozen Ethyl-related deaths and hundreds of manufacturing injuries were revealed, but per usual these events were blamed on worker’s carelessness and horseplay. “It is a fact that we have a great deal of trouble inducing the men to be cautious,” a company spokesperson claimed, “We have to protect them against themselves.” The Surgeon General’s committee found no firm evidence of a threat to the public, but its members pointed out that its timetable had been insufficient for a thorough investigation, and further studies were strongly suggested.
The public took this finding as a clean bill of health, and soon Ethyl was pumping again. Each year the demand increased, and by 1963 Ethyl and other lead-based anti-knock agents were present in 98% of the US gasoline supply, churning thousands of tons of toxic metal through America’s engines. The lead-peddlers enjoyed rabid federal protection, in one instance successfully suing an unleaded gasoline maker who offered a high-octane alternative which “stands on its own merits” without the need for “dangerous chemicals.”
Unfettered by facts, the US Federal Trade Commission stated that leaded gas was “entirely safe to the health of motorists and the public […] is not a narcotic in its effect, a poisonous dope, or dangerous to the life or health of a customer, purchaser, user or the general public.” Ethyl, it seemed, had been unfairly exonerated. The lead-additive industry might have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling geochemists.
In the late 1940s, a graduate student named Clair Patterson was experimenting with a new way to measure the age of rocks, with the ultimate goal of determining the age of the Earth itself. His method relied upon the measuring of lead and uranium isotopes in rock samples, but each sample he tested was found to be contaminated with about two hundred times more lead than expected. Befuddled, Patterson established a strictly contamination-controlled laboratory for his geochemistry experiments, and found that the source of the lead contamination was the atmosphere itself. By 1953 he had mass-spectrographed enough sterile samples that the Earth’s age could safely be estimated as 4.55 billion years; a value which still stands today. With that task completed, he directed his attention to the atmospheric lead.
Upon learning that automotive fuel was the source of the contamination, Dr. Patterson began to publish materials discussing the toxic metal’s ubiquity and its probable ill effects. In order to demonstrate the increase of lead in the environment, Patterson proposed taking core samples from pack ice in Greenland, and testing the lead content of each layer— a novel concept which had not been previously attempted. The experiment worked, and the results showed that airborne lead had been negligible before 1923, and that it had climbed precipitously ever since. In 1965, when the tests were conducted, lead levels were roughly 1,000 times higher than they had been in the pre-Ethyl era. He also compared modern bone samples to that of older human remains, and found that modern humans’ lead levels were hundreds of times higher.
The Ethyl corporation allegedly offered him lucrative employment in exchange for more favorable research results, but Dr. Patterson declined. For a time thereafter, Patterson found himself ostracized from government and corporate sponsored research projects, including the a National Research Council panel on atmospheric lead contamination. The Ethyl corporation had powerful friends, including a Supreme Court justice, members of the US Public Health Service, and the mighty American Petroleum Institute. Nevertheless, Patterson was unrelenting, and the resulting rise in scientific and public awareness eventually led to the Clean Air Act of 1970, and a staged phaseout of leaded gasoline. Ethyl and Du Pont sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that “actual harm” must be demonstrated rather than just “significant risk,” an effort which successfully prolonged lead additives’ life by another decade.
By 1986, Ethyl and its ilk were virtually eliminated in the United States, and Americans’ blood-borne lead levels have since dropped by 78%. Lead’s effects, however, may linger much longer. An estimated seven million tons of the stuff were burned through gasoline in Ethyl’s sixty-three years of use; and since lead does not decay, every particle that traversed a tailpipe still lingers in the air today, aside from some that settled onto the ground and into the sea. The contamination has not halted altogether, however; some leaded fuel is still used in aviation, and in automobiles within third-world countries. A few industrial processes also expel lead as a waste product.
The specific harms done by environmental lead are difficult to quantify. It is known that children are much more apt to absorb the neurotoxic metal than adults, and it is suspected to have stricken many children with behavior problems, learning difficulties, hyperactivity, and breathing complications. Even more troubling, a number of recent studies have shown a strong correlation between atmospheric lead levels and crime rates. A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research, which used data spanning more than fifty years, reported a “very strong association” between the exposure of young children to lead, and crime rates twenty years later when they became young adults. This correlation holds true for a wide variety of locales, social conditions, and models of government. The sharp decline in US crime rates which began in the early 1990s dovetails perfectly with the reduction of leaded gasoline in the early 1970s; and other countries which followed suit saw similar declines, also delayed by twenty years. It seems that the lawmakers who claim credit for crime-reducing legislation during that time are probably misplacing their congratulations. In another study, Pittsburgh University researchers found that juvenile delinquents had lead levels four times higher on average than law-abiding adolescents.
As for Thomas Midgley, the father of leaded gasoline continued his distinguished career by inventing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the refrigerants and aerosol propellants which famously destroyed a considerable section of the Earth’s ozone layer before they were banned. In 1935 Midgley gave a presentation to the American Chemical Society predicting the wonders that chemists would discover in the century that followed. He predicted that by 2035 humanity could expect to see, among other things:
Interplanetary travel, involving the production of a substance that will produce more energy per pound than is required to lift that pound out of the Earth’s gravitational field.
The introduction of water on Mars and oxygen on Venus, so those planets will be habitable.
Defensive chemistry to equalize the horror of war chemistry.
Control of age, so that a man may become static at whatever age pleases him.
Chickens as big as pigs, and other animals proportionate until milk cows are mastadons.
The elimination of indigestion.
Dream pills, so that a man, selecting the kind of dream he wants, may assure it by taking the right kind of pill.
The end of visiting; people will stay at home and call on their friends by television.
Agreement by physicists on the physical nature of the universe.
Throughout his career Midgley received an awesome array of accolades and awards for his contributions to chemistry, many of which were later regretted upon discovering the damage done by his innovations. The chemist did not survive to witness this disintegration of his successes, however. After becoming impaired by a polio infection, Midgley devised a machine with motorized pulleys to assist him in rising from bed and turning over. One day in 1944, as his automatic contraption sprang into action, he was ensnared in the cords and strangled to death.
Some historians have argued that Midgley’s tetra-ethyl lead was a necessary evil; one which hastened the progress of efficient engines, thereby advancing the economy and contributing to victory in World War II. It is worth noting, however, that in the early years of Ethyl’s availability, basic refinery advances boosted the base octane of fuel by 20-30 points, whereas Ethyl additive only boosted it by about nine points. In retrospect, Ethyl’s octane improvements were somewhat overstated, and the product owed most of its success to crafty marketing, misleading research, and chronic government incompetence. Whatever Ethyl’s benefits, it saturated the planet with an insidious poison, and the true magnitude of its past, present, and future harm are yet to be known.
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I predict at least an attempt at legislation banning lead in aircraft fuel… they already have lead-free additives that accomplish the same thing, so there’s no justification for poisoning masses of people with it.
Christ, what an asshole.
Some things never change. But then in this case we may not have had Mr Patterson and his work.
And the beat goes on. We’ll continue to burn on our limited stocks of carbon based fuels while we wait for the “super” fuel of the future to save us all. Unlike the EU that has accepted the demize of the automobile as a primary mode of transportation we blistfully go on supporting the automakers. It is time for a change and perhaps we can learn from our friends in Europe and elsewhere that mass transit just might be the only way to go.
By the way… Great article, Jim
Good article. More of a history lesson rather than it being DI.
We touched on this in school. Yet, this was a good refresher.
Good article. More of a history lesson rather than it being DI.
We touched on this in school. Yet, this was a good refresher.
Allan, I love the reference to Scooby Doo when you mention “meddling geochemists.” I’d like to take a sneak peak at *their* Mystery Machine!
A good friend of mine who was into financial risk consulting said once that the value of everything and anything would change or cease if someone ever figured out how to make fuel out of water (something so easily accessible).
Hooray for geochemists!
justjim, I am not sure that the glorious future of mass transit will be quick in coming. Even in Denmark, where I’m living these days, the train company statistics show that that they use a full 1/4 the energy of driving (per capita). While a big reduction, it doesn’t come near solving the energy/CO2 crisis. 1/4 of a big number is still big. If tiny Denmark can’t do better than that, the huge, sprawling US might not gain much at all from a train service. Might be more correct to hype efficient houses.
Of course, putting it off to see if the ratio improves isn’t going to help anybody.
speek / justjim: 1/4 of the energy of a European car is a lot different than 1/4 of the energy of an American car. Because Detroit has managed to suppress effective legislation to require higher mileage, American cars have the worst mileage pretty much anywhere, worse even than that in developing countries (ref. “An Inconvenient Truth”).
Why don’t we all stop beating around the bush we need alternate fuel and i mean now. hydrogen fuel cells would be my guess and solar for our homes. So lets get The hell going on research to solve the problem we could make the switch nearly completely in less than ten years if enough pressure were applied in the right places and to the right people by US! I don’t mean the USA i mean US we the people, we need to stop whining and asking and start demanding it. In ten years we can either be free of petrol chem fuels or paying 10 plus bucks a gal. for it and you know that’s an underestimate. Make the switch now rather than then and it will be less painful. another benefit i see is..what a better way is there to tell the OPEC nations that they are obsolete! We would no longer need them.
It’s interesting to note that the replacement for TEL was MTBE, -which turned out not to be quite so toxic, but able to emulsify a large number of substances. It was found to have an affinity for groundwater, and it took very little of it to contaminate entire aquifers. -Kind of like CFC’s and ozone. The method currently in use adds methyl alchohol. It was tested and discarded long ago due to inefficient weight to available power ratios by current utilization methods.
Water is intriguing. Just need to find the right catalyst…
The “nineteen-dicketies”??? What editor was asleep when that crossed his/her screen?
I say we scrap ICE’s and go back to bikes. Solve our energy and obesity crises in one fell swoop ;) Seriously, though, my guess would be sugar based ethanol, assuming the gov’t can get past the corn lobby. Main reason being economic feasibility. All you need is, what, a differently calibrated spark plug? Other than that our current infrastructure is perfectly ready for it.
Hey, that might curb our obesity crisis as well by jacking up sugar prices!
As for the suspected correlation between lead levels and crime rates, I wonder how they managed to glean that? I’ve read from a few sources that causal relationships can’t easily be verified in psychology, due to the fact that any number of invisible variables — which cannot be eliminated — may be contaminating the subjects.
We had to say dicketies because the Kaiser stole our word twenty!
Average IQ scores have risen steadily over the last half century. I wonder how much of that is explained by our getting some of the lead out of the environment?
You can thank California for the elimination of TEL in gasoline. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated regulations for automobile pollution reduction effective in 1981 that were most easily met with the use of 3-way catalytic converters. Since TEL fouls catalytic converters, unleaded fuel was also a requirement. The auto manufacturers complied with the regulations because they couldn’t forgo the huge California market for their products, and they produced vehicles for the rest of the country that were similarly equipped. That spelled the end for the Ethyl Corporation.
Now CARB is demanding a reduction in CO2 emissions (best met by improving fuel economy). The EPA under the Bush administration has been fighting California on this for several years, but it appears that the EPA will capitulate by February 2008 due to California’s win in the courts. Of course, Congress finally saw the wisdom and last month passed increased fuel economy regulations at the federal level.
“a clever but chronically catastrophic chemist named Thomas Midgley”
I love the alliteration.
Wow. That guy had a knack for killer inventions. Did he ever invent anything that didn’t kill people?
Sadly, we’re halfway through the same process in dealing with mercury released by the ton into our environment by coal power plants. Two years ago we finished a 15 year study that says “mercury is bad.” Yeesh. OK, I’m exaggerating how little it says by a tiny bit, but we’re still way behind where we should be on this, especially considering the cumulative effect on the environment mercury has. For more see the EPA site’s “Controlling Power Plant Emissions: Overview” here. Then see how the EPA may be breaking the laws on the limits of mercury in their attempt to do something about pollution here. And, if you’re not already aware of the effects, see the Wikipedia article on mercury poisoning. Basically, too little is getting done, it’s taking too long to do it, and what is being done may be illegal. Neat, huh? The more things change, the more they stay the same. >:-(
Reducing CO2 emissions does not mean you get better mileage. The efficiant burning of a hydrocarbon will yield only 2 exhaust products: H2O and CO2.
2C8H18 + 25O2 yields 16CO2 + 18H2O
2 octane molecules with 25 oxygen molecules in the presence of heat burn to give you 16 carbon dioxide molecules and 18 water molecules.
What is needed is for fuels to be higher in hydrocarbon with fewer additives if the goal is strictly cleaner air. Otherwise we just have to realize that pollution is a by-product of the internal combustion engine.
People need to be looking for alternatives to the ICE, Period.
That “Gee, Pop…” kid is sooooo pissed off that his dad is driving slow.
Even though it wasn’t the “breakthrough” that made him famous, how fitting is it that Midgely was killed by his own invention?
While it is true that emissions and mileage are not necessarily linked, in practice they are usually highly correlated. The main factors are 1) engine efficiency and 2) car weight. If the engine is inefficient, you may spew about the same CO2 per kilometer if the inefficiency is in the burning – then you will also spew a lot of extra hydrocarbon pollution. If the inefficiency is in the transformation (waste heat instead of motion) then you will certainly be spewing more CO2. And of course, SUVs (read: Silly Urban Vehicles) need a lot more energy to move that bulk around, regardless of how efficient the engine is.
I am not saying that we should ignore alternative energy sources for tomorrow, but we should definitely not be ignoring methods of reducing emissions today. If you need a new car today, buy that little one which uses only 5 liters / 100 Km (ca. 50 mpg in U.S. terms) instead of the SUV that the salesman there is trying to sell you. Your wallet will thank you too. :-)
“Some historians have argued that Midgley’s tetra-ethyl lead was a necessary evil”
I guess the benefits outweigh the cost……..probably a lot like asbestos………
And probably a lot like alternative vehicles, we will always compare the speed, reaction, and effectiveness against previous standards.
What a guy! By the time I read he came up with CFC’s I was laughing too much, they should give him an award, maybe the Polluting Medal of Pollution. If he hadn’t killed himself, he may have found a way to blow up the Earth.
Damn…now *this* might explain why there’s so many children suffer from asthma, autism and other (possibly) lead-related diseases. What a mad scientist that bastard was. Sooner or later he WOULD have blown up the world indeed. :-(
Anyone here who is old enough (I’m late 30’s, practically ancient) will probably remember the distinctly sweet, slightly metallic smell of leaded exhaust.
I remember my Dad’s Chrysler, idling in the crisp Winter air, with me darting and dancing in and out of the billowing exhaust plumes…
Excuse me while I go lance my tumors… :)
When they make a small vehicle with exceptional mileage and 4×4 off road capability that will haul also 6000lbs of trailer and cargo on a regular basis, I’ll be willing to (up?/down?) grade. I think our understanding of physics will need to be redefined however. In the meantime, we’re pretty much stuck with the available products that fit the need. -But I do agree, the mindset of folks who have to have bigger just because it is, could be redirected.
It does seem that the powers-that-be only raise a ruckus when something is discovered by enough of the general public and is brought to the forefront of consciousness. Otherwise ignorance = profit.
This always makes me laugh about the nuclear debate. I wish people realized how much radioactive crap is spewed from coal plants. Bring on the next generation of Thorium Reactors and clean up our warheads at the same time!!
I wonder when they’ll discover the obvious risks from ingesting growth hormones and artificial sweeteners and various food additives that have been added to all food we eat these days. For the sake of my kids i hope it won’t take as long as it took realizing the risks of TEL.
I should have elaborated on this. Have a look at Cosmos Apr 2006, about half way through. Getting slightly off topic, but maybe a future DI article?
Speaking of the nuke debate: Oil and gas drilling rigs finish up, the downhole tubing shipped to be reused until it is no good. When you try to take it to a steel recycle plant, most is rejected because, drumroll please, it is radioactive.
Hey, I’ve got an idea. We’ll just use that leftover radioactive steel to make pie tins! “Self-cooking pie tins! Only $19.95! Order now! We’ll let you keep this incredible product for 30 days and give you a full refund if you develop tumors! Order within the next 10 minutes and we’ll include this lovely lead apron FREE!”
Now, that’s just plain silly. Lead aprons would be too heavy for most people.
sorry… correct me if im wrong but isn’t CFCs spelt Chlorofluorocarbons?
also…DAMN YOU DAMN INTERESTING FOR MAKING ME THINK!!!
Nice article :-D
Wouldn’t it be nice if governments protected their people rather than the people who give them money…
Was it just me, or did anyone else see interesting parallels between this story of, lets face it, corruption and greed, and the current/much more recent stories concerning tainted products coming out of China?
All the time money can be made, people seem content to hide negative effects of their products in the hope that they can make their fortune quickly before people start dying. It still happens today, and it’ll still happen tomorrow. We really need to start pushing back against this kind of corruption in our governments. Once it was determined (accepted?) that TEL was definitely poisonous, the people involved in the enquiries that gave it the all clear should have been had up on charges for manslaughter. People disgust me.
Sometimes I feel that our entire species is destined to feature in an intergalactic Darwin Awards round up.
Is that “55” a typo?
More emphasis needs to be put on things like solar, wind, hydro,etc. Crop based bio fuels help with dependence on OPEC nations, but check out the hidden costs. Much like livestock farming requires a lot of continual energy input and land (habitat destruction, loss of carbon sinks) so does cropping, whether it be cane or grain. Combustion of fuel still releases greenhouse gas and despite how efficient it becomes, will always be proportional to the amount of energy produced. Allocating crops to fuel also diverts primary foods, which isn’t ideal considering the humantarian needs atm. Or you can clear more land and create more issues…..
*WOW* Great article yet again Alan.
I had no idea lead in fuel was this dangerous. In fact, there was quite a lot of muttering-under-the-breath here when Dubai decided to ban leaded petrol here four years ago (yes, we were that late!). The only thing people could see was the 25% drop in mileage coupled with a 20% rise in the cost of refuelling the car. Unleaded had always been available, it was simply more expensive that leaded fuel. I now wish they’d done this earlier, though it seems that it was still early enough… before the economic and automobile boom in this region. With three times as many vehicles on the road compared to just 4 years ago, I shudder to think of the impact of all that lead in the air.
Oh man. This guy was pretty much a failure at life.
I read somewhere, though, that CFCs don’t actually reach the ozone layer and that they might not be as harmful as previously thought. Of course, I don’t remember where I read this and whether it was credible or not, but any input would be appreciated.
This is, hands down, the most disturbing and downright terrifying article I ever read on this site. Thank you, Alan.
Sounds like you’re probably referring to the old “Myth: CFCs Are Heavier Than Air, So They Can’t Reach the Ozone Layer“. Turns out that, while it’s true that CFCs are heavier than air, so is water, but if you actually bother looking for them, you’ll discover that they both can be found quite high up in the atmosphere (see here and the following sections for its dangerous effects and other details). To hear that argument you’d think some global warming deniers had never seen a cloud or didn’t know what they were made of.
I remember this guy being on QI – he seemed to be a guy who was trying to do the right thing, but got it eternally wrong – cursed to bring pain and suffering to the world. I feel a bit sorry for him.
I just hope there aren’t too many people out there that seriously think the Hydrogen fuel cell is any sort of realistic alternative to the gasoline powered internal combustion engine. In fact it really bothers me when politicians and car manufacturers flaunt ‘prototype’ models knowing full well that the infrastructure required (refuelling stations dotted across the globe like the current petrol stations are) and the costs mean the technology will likely never be used widely (even if it does there is no promise the environmental impact will be lessened as Hydrogen needs to be refined anyway).
And for that matter Oil companies are only too happy to applaud Hydrogen fuel cells as they know they are the best placed companies to set up any possible refilling stations by converting gas/petrol stations already in existence. If that does happen then they are just likely to move from controlling the flow of oil and gasoline, onto controlling the world’s supply of hydrogen. We need to find a better technology, and governments need to get serious about sponsoring and supporting realistic ideas.
I object to the use of the word “unfairly exonerated” here: “Commission stated that leaded gas was “entirely safe to the health of motorists and the public […] is not a narcotic in its effect, a poisonous dope, or dangerous to the life or health of a customer, purchaser, user or the general public.” Ethyl, it seemed, had been unfairly exonerated.”
Mirriam Webster defines exonerated as “1 : to relieve of a responsibility, obligation, or hardship 2 : to clear from accusation or blame”
To be “unfairly exonerated” would then mean that Ethyl was unfairly relieved of responsibility for its ill effects. Unfairly? That makes it sound as if the FTC’s findings were an offense to the Ethyl corporation, but in reality it is they who benefitted from the FTC’s findings.
Great article though…makes me glad I wasn’t born back then. (34 yrs). I do still remember leaded gasoline when I was very young…and I remember that unleaded gasoline was a big deal.
Thomas Midgley. The guy looks intelligent. Un-trustworthy too.
Invention looked at the creator and strangled him.
“Gee Pop, They’re all passing you” – The Dads who saw that ad would’ve surely stopped at the Ethyl Pump :)
A couple of quibbles.
Europe is not the ‘green eden’ that people continually spin it as. Leaded gas was generally available in Germany long after it was rare at best in the US.
There’s no such thing as an ‘irreperably damaged’ environment, just one damaged for the long term. 50,000 years from now (fairly short term, climate-wise) the effects of leaded gasoline use will be negligable.
MTBE did *not* replace TEL in gasoline. TEL is an octane booster, MTBE is an oxegenate. The purpose of MTBE was to make engines burn leaner, reducing emissions. Didn’t work out so well, since most cars these days have oxygen sensors which can’t be tricked in this manner (it did help with old cars), and it turned out to be a toxic nightmare. MTBE has been generally replaced by ethanol, which is an oxygenate and an octane booster. It has it’s own problems, but they aren’t too bad.
You can still buy leaded fuel if you look around hard, and are willing to pay 3-4x as much as unleaded (or you can go to an airport). It’s relatively low impact in the tiny volumes used today.
Don’t misunderstand me, getting rid of most TEL was a good thing.
This just goes to show how new fuels can cause unexpected results. And if you have political power on your side, such results could be hidden long enough to make serious harm. Very DI.
Although I wonder if people understand that such things could happen with new fuel supplies. This event happened because people were blindly interested in one goal: How much it solved the intended problem and not what problems were made. Now with alternative fuels called “Green” technology, people are focusing too much on the fact that they don’t emit greenhouse gasses and not enough on the problems.
I dunno. It seems we still have a problem with trusting politicians too much.
4.55 billion appears to be correct – why would it be a typo?
Somebody better tell these guys that MTBE didn’t boost octane as well as oxygenate.
Actually, water (H20) is LIGHTER than air (mainly N2 and O2).
Well, yes and no. I should have been thinking about density, not weight, so I was wrong there. However, if water was less dense than air then the ocean would be above the atmosphere. But, if we’re talking about water vapor, then yes, it’s less dense than dry air, thus can float in it. Though, once the saturation of air is high enough or the temperature drops low enough , the water vapor will condense into water droplets and fall back down (hence rain.)
CFCs don’t behave quite the same way, so yeah, not the greatest of comparisons on my part. Thanks for the correction. :-)
I found it interesting that a study concluded that removing lead from gas and other additives is the reason why crime rates dropped in the 1990s. I recently read Freakonomics and the writer of that book claimed that crime rate declines were due to the Roe Vs. Wade ruling. In this book, he claimed that less births into unfortunate circumstances meant less street crime. However, the lead culprit seems more likely. I do agree with both this article and that book that crime rates declining were not due to new crime legislation. Of course, politicians are always going to be there to take credit for fortunate events and deny responsibility for unfortunate events.
…aw shucks. Please bring back sacharrin, cyclamates…oh yeah, might as well bring good ole DDT back too! After all, sooner or later, everything is going to kill laboratory rats. Then again, I didn’t/don’t digest 1 ton cubes of any of those things on a daily basis.
…and yet we all have something at home…in our medicine cabinets that kills more people than anything else…aspirin. Don’t hear anything about getting that banned do you? :-o
rev.felix, we could find our pies in the dark.No fridge light conserves energy and helps the environment.
Gyah. That’s a little scary, to think something that bad was called okay for so long just because some rich bastard wanted to get richer.
I think it’s funny that you are all blaming the chemist… He is a genius, he created a solution to a world wide problem where others failed. The lack of foresight was widespread in those times, DTD, smoking etc… the long term effects weren’t considered. It’s the people that were making the money, DuPont, GM and the others that still denied there were problems even after the facts were obtained. They are the criminals. Nothing has changed, genetically modified things are the next cab off the rank. If you think kids with asthma is bad, soon they’ll be born with teeth growing out of their elbows from “genetically enhancing toothpaste” and many other deformations that “aren’t from genetically modified things that we sold you…” The same people that filled your air with lead are still loose and have lots of money… what are they making now?
The USA doesn’t have a very good track record of learning from anybody. They seem to only be concerned with the money involved in the oil industry, short-sighted bliss!
With the seemingly leaps of advancement in the stored energy business (batteries) I think battery operated vehicles are our best choice. However, that power has to come from somewhere…which means power plants…to be clean that means wind, water or….uh oh…nuclear!
Still beats using oil I guess. I can’t wait to go to a car dealership and see ‘Batteries Not Included’ on the windshields of the cars.
It’s also been said that the legalization of abortion has a strong correlation to the decrease of crime throughout the nineties (pass Roe v Wade, have some 40 million abortions in the US, 25 years later there are many less delinquent youths to cause trouble)…correlation is not causation. (reference to Freakonomics, by Steven Leavitt) But its damn interesting!!
I felt the same way….people calling him names and stuff. He was presented with a problem and he created a solution. Seemed like a brilliant guy that just happened to brilliantly discover solutions to problems that would eventually become their own problem that we needed a solution.
If you’re going to blame this guy for Leaded fuel….blame the engine makers for building something that required it.
Lead fuel *and* CFC came from this one man?! I’m just speechless, but how ironic and rightful that he died by his own contraption.
Definitely one of the most DI reads. Cheers.
I’ve read this as well. But as with Leavitt’s claims as well as lead/crime rate clams. A good skeptic knows that Correlation does not unnecessarily imply causation. We humans are great at seeing patterns even where there are none. Only a true scientific study could truly prove a correlation between lead and crime rates or abortion/crack profit margins (as suggested in Leavitt’s book) and crime rates. However the anecdotal evidence is compelling.
I’m amazed at the audacity of the man, saying “It’s perfectly safe” while recovering from lead poisoning…
Thing is, you know if you’re taking aspirin, it’s not being pumped into the atmosphere. One of the bigger household killers is water, people slip in it, drown in it, electrocute themselves in it. This also doesn’t get banned. Just because something /can/ kill you, doesn’t mean it should automatically be banned. It’s all about whether reasonable precautions can prevent any kind of injury from occurring through its use.
Also when aspirin is used properly or as directed it is safe (other than the occasional allergic reaction) Lead was being used as directed and creating major environmental and health problems. That is the difference between lead in products and CFC’s, and things like aspirin.
Uh, no. I think you got your facts mixed up. Yeah, analgesics, as a category which includes far more than aspirin, are the #1 cause of poisonings and deaths, but, as you mentioned above, aspirin is ubiquitous. Since they’re more common, yeah, the number of deaths are higher than they might be, but that doesn’t mean they’re particularly dangerous. Actually, analgesic poisonings cause death in only about 0.246% of cases, but poisonings from stimulants and street drugs kill more than twice as often. Poisoning death rates are also 15-30% higher for antidepressants, muscle relaxants, cardiovascular drugs, and sedative/hypnotics/antipsychotics. Also, aspirin by itself only makes up just under 8% of all analgesic poisoning deaths. In 2005 there were only 59 aspirin related poisoning deaths recorded in the US, compared to 120 from alcohol (beverage) poisoning or 333 from acetaminophen related poisonings. (source 2005 AAPCC Annual Report) So, no, aspirin isn’t especially dangerous.
I am nearing the end of Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” and I read the section about the Ethel Company a little while ago. It is Bryson’s book that is the progenitor of this comment that I posted in Undark and the Radium Girls: “Speaking of companies that willfully put their employees at risk, other companies will also knowingly and willingly put the entire populace at risk, and I am not referring to Big Tobacco. Use Google to find out about the Ethyl Corporation’s early marketing ploys that it used to sell leaded gasoline, even though its officers knew that lead was incredibly toxic. The Ethyl Corporation is still in business but has changed its name.”
I agree with you: His book is always intriguing. I’m glad to see that someone else in here enjoys that book.
Also, I want to compliment you upon your skills in writing a precis. You captured Bryson’s ideas and style admirably.
Oh that grandpa simpson. Him and his Kaiser stories.
Well as you hinted at, the very real problem is to do with how we obtain the hydrogen in the first place in a efficient (cheap), clean manner (one that does not produce the very greenhouse gasses that hydrogen fuel cells are supposed to eliminate) and in the massive quantities to fuel the globe’s thirst for automobile travel demands.
As for the infrastructure (estimated at costing over half a trillion dollars in the US alone) even if someone did actually undertake it the effort would take so long and cost so much that the money would be better spent on finding a better, long term solution that didn’t require such massive infrastructure in the first place!
Recommend checking out ‘The Hype about Hydrogen” … or just check the Wikipedia page for a quick intro: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hype_about_Hydrogen
It is impossible to reap the benefits of technology without reaping the consequences as well.
Nobody can claim to have all the answers to a specific question. We can have some answers, but we cannot have all the answers. For example, if someone asks a scientist: “What are the risks and dangers involved with such or such product?” The scientist can only answer to the best of his knowledge. My point is, all the chemical interactions between the elements in the periodic table cannot always be predicted. All the variables involved in the prediction of weather cannot be evaluated. The effects of this molecule or of this radiation cannot always be exactly predicted. There will always be an unkown somewhere, let it be because of arrogance, lack of time, human error, lack of technological knowledge, or pure bad luck. It is impossible to completely erradicate probabilities and replace them with certainties. The only thing we can do is try at least to discredit the arrogant ones in the world who care more about profit than healthy alternatives. No product should be on the market unless it proved within reasonable doubt that it’s safe. Science has made us technological junkies, and a lot of corporate scum only see the dollar sign at the end of tunnel. But hey! They smile in front of cameras, the wear nice clothes, and they promise tax cuts. Don’t worry about lead, don’t worry about mercury, GMO’s, pesticides and chlorinates in tap water, or cancer causing acrylamides in fried foods for that matter. It makes me laugh to see a bag of chips with “NO TRANS FATS” in capital letters on it. If they take the time to label the chips as being trans fat free, why don’t they also label it as being full of cancer causing acrylamides? Because people wouldn’t buy them. That applies to every other product out there that was altered in some way because of our scientific knowledge, may it be by frying potatoes or by splitting atoms, what needs to be done is truthful marketing and labeling of products.
First! time commenting
Interesting the types of dirt people deal in, where they trying to kill people? I guess as long as you make money… anywho about the IQ thing that seems reasonable along with what’s described in this article below. Kinda obvious after reading it though.
I recently started visiting this site and its great. Just going back through old articles on here now.
I wonder how much R&D and infrastructure 2 Trillion dollars could buy. Seems an awful lot of money just to maintain the status quo.
That’s simply not true, and it sounds like an excuse to get away with murder as well. In this case it’s not like the dangers of lead were unknown at the time, so those deaths could easily have been avoided if the greed and desire to disbelieve hadn’t gotten in the way.
Anyways, we reap the benefits of technology while avoiding all sorts of consequences today because we can test for and prevent many consequences. Obviously we could do a better job sometimes, but that often requires a patience that is impossible to force upon people in a free market without legislation. Fortunately, we do have laws regarding medical testing, vehicle testing, food testing, etc…. The tests and standards could be improved, sure, but they’re far better than nothing. And you don’t need to know there might be potential negative consequences in order to test for safety first.
To get technology and avoid most of the avoidable consequences, especially the major problems, it simply requires careful planning, testing, and patience.
Someone told me that electric cars that are almost as powerful as petrol run cars, have already been invented but didn’t go into production coz if it did, the fuel companies would suffer terrible losses. Wonder if it’s really true….
We have such short lives that every person just thinks of amassing money to live each of their short lives in luxury. That’s why corruption in the government will never end. Shame.
“such blended fuels were much more expensive and had an inferior weight-to-energy ratio, making them a poor substitute”
Inferior weight-to-energy ratio? Wouldn’t that be energy-to-weight?
My camel gets 10 k’s on the galon but I’ve got that same problem with the smelly emissions.
Yesterday, I had a discussion with someone about this whole CO2/oil consumption issue. He suggested I should watch this video (i hope this linking-thing works) called “Who killed the electric car”. Basically this confirms part of your comment. I found it quite interesting, yet pretty sad. Before you go and watch it, i should probably warn you that it’s about 1.5 hrs long though.
Thanks for that link Hantas. Couldn’t watch the video you pointed to, coz its too long (thanks for mentioning it).
But I did watch a youtube clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsJAlrYjGz8 My teeth grinding while watching it.
Quote from the video [i]”The electric vehicle is not for everyone. It can only meet the needs of 90% of the population”[/i]
“Only 90%?”. Is 90% worthy of being called “only”?
All these people campaigning for global warming…such hypocrites! A solution was invented more than 10 years ago.
But is this problem similar to the tetra ethyl lead cover up? Are governments really bending to the oil supplying countries? Seems unlikely coz no country would like to import trillions of gallons of oil every year! Rather invent an electric car and break free!!
Is there a higher truth to these matters? Was the electric car killed so that billions of people in the oil industry wouldn’t lose their jobs? But they could also have had a slow transition from oil to electric. I guess it’s the oil companies that are sponsoring the hydrogen fuel cell car….so that their cash flow would be un-interrupted. And that’s why the project isn’t being scrapped. Is there more to politics than we know?
Man! how far would we have progressed if it weren’t for politics and religion! Or would we?
I agree with one out of three. Technically by you saying that “Nobody” can “claim to have all the answers to a specific question” you did in fact negate your logic since you did state all possible answers as “Nobody” to the specific question “who can claim to have all the answers to a specific question”…. heh sorry I couldnt help myself.
I dont agree that science makes us do things. People make themselves do things, and they need to take responsibility for themselves instead of letting others thing for them. Blaming corperations for performing their primary function is kind’ve naive isnt it? Any corperation not targeting money making oppertunities isnt much of a company.
If you feel so strongly against a company dont provide it with fuel in which to continue. It seems as though you practice that already, which I commend you for. Just keep in mind without solid proof you are just blowing hot air along with a large group of crazies who also cant prove anything. That is the moral of the story above. You can’t kill the beast until you prove its weaknesses.
Truthful marketing isnt realistic. The entire act of marketing implies they will accentuate the details they think will get you to buy it. Lieing is one thing, but redirection focus is what its all about. Seeing thru the marketing gimic is important as today as it always was.
Also no one is stopping any of you from building an electric wonder car. No one will stop you when you sell your design at the first glance of instant big money either. Why would anyone assume that a company with vested intrest would come out with the next gen electric vehicle? Without knowing where the money trail ends, you really dont know what contributes to the real bottom line of those in charge. This would mean that if Ford suddenly killed in the market for a next gen electric car, all the oil shares would die off and kill off their oil investments.
However, I have a saturn that gets over 30mpg, and sometimes, depending on my drive, upwards of low 40’s. That means I wont be building one anytime soon (funding reasons too), but I urge someone to take it upon themselves. Imagine all the green peace chicks you could score for inventing such a thing!
Well, in a way it is, although with slightly different motives for different actors in ‘the system’. For one thing, the car companies (who developed the electic car in the first place) didn’t really want this to become popular, since that effectively says that the cars they currently produce suck. But this is just one of the ‘guilty’ people (according to the movie). And yes, they greatly favor the hydrogen fuel cell-cars, since that allows them to stay in control. Partly because the current gas stations can then start selling hydrogen, whereas an electric car can be charged pretty much anywhere. And yes, of course the oil companies didn’t really like the idea of this electric car.
About that “only 90%” remark, that’s a remark by someone who is actually supporting this electric car. It’s a bit of a cynical remark.
If you can find the time, I guess you would find it interesting to watch the whole movie.
It’s out on DVD too. I got it at Blockbuster.
Great comments folks! You just may make an electric car believer out of me yet.
Thanks for pointing that out. It makes no sense unless you believe in the following statement: “There are two different kinds of people in the world: Those who think there are two different kinds of people in the world and those who don’t”. But you are right, saying it this way: “Who can claim to have all the answers to a specific question?” makes more sense.
I agree with the fact that corporation’s primary function is to profit, but I don’t think I was naive in blaming them for doing so. The purpose of profit is to achieve greater wealth and wealth is measured by comparing it with other “wealths”. Logically this means the pursuit of profit leaves people less wealthy than others, and some less wealthy people are down straight poor. In my comment I was trying to point out the injustice behind false publicity. Lets take for example a tv commercial depicting a 4X4 xlimbing a vertical wall. People in general know too well that the SUV in the commercial can’t actually climb a vertical wall, but that’s beside the point. The steady increase in t.v. commercial’s visual dramatization is no accident. I believe it subtely inspires innocent awe and wonder. Eventually bonds of trust are created between you and a product for which you basically know nothing about, because of repetitive exposure to something that is not even real. Next thing you know, you might feel a need to purchase the product, but do you really want it or need it. Is it your true desire or the constant influence of media and/or peer pressure? This is why I think truthful labeling and marketing is so important, so consumers can feel respected. Consumers need to see both sides of the medal when it comes to knowing a product in order to make a judicious choice.
As for the Greenpeace chicks, and don’t really care about them, I am happy with my present status as is but I’m sure you can score plenty if you believe all that they say about Viagra.. Just try to forget it might give you a heart attack during the love making process but hey! That’s o.k… Don’t blame Pfizer for “accentuat[ing] the details they think will get you to buy it”, at least you got a bang for your *uck, except the “bang” was the sound of your heart exploding. I guess we don’t need truthful marketing after all. Who cares about the truth. As long as there are Greenpeace chick at the end of the tunnel holding a pail of viagra pills in their erect hands.
Sorry for the double post, I got the quotes wrong in comment 84.
What isn’t true? That it’s impossible for us to reap the benefits of technology without reaping the consequences as well or for me to grasp your flawed logic:
My understanding is that your comment : “Obviously we could do a better job sometimes” implies a consequence of techonology. The consequence being that the job is not always perfect.
My statement was true, and your interpretation was not.
Crap. I’m going to quote my eyes out with a quote hanger.
I may be wrong. (First time if so ;) Doesn’t the quality of life generally improve with each generation? Isn’t the life expectancy increasing? All the while being exposed to CFCs, MTFE, CO2, TEL, ICEs, DDT and other BS in the USA. But maybe, without the exposure, our LE would be 136.
Well yes, but there’s this too…
I also read somewhere the life expectancy for males had decreased, but increased for females.
I don’t know if anyone has gotten around to doing a definitive survey. There must be some common denominators that affect the different general populations.
“In another study, Pittsburgh University researchers found that juvenile delinquents had lead levels four times higher on average than law-abiding adolescents. ”
Does anyone know the title of this study, or its principle author, or where I could find it? It would be interesting to read it.
Thanks in advance,
However, am i misinformed? I believe the hole in our ozone was first discovered in the 70’s. Researchers still do not know if it was already there or if we made it (CFC). Others are fairly sure holes in our ozone have happened before, hundreds, millions of years prior to the industrial revolution.
In any case I’m always astounded my the arrogance of man. Even if we pollute to the max and everything goes to hell; does this planet care?
And the beat goes on. We’ll continue to burn on our limited stocks of carbon based fuels while we wait for the “super” fuel of the future to save us all.
Would you rather starve to death? Because every modern product and service you use, including a steady supply of food delivered to your local store, in some way depends on carbon based oils and fuels. We would not have our modern society without them. Unless you’re Amish, you live off the stuff. And you would be dead without it because there’s no technology currently on the board which would enable us to eliminate their use and support 6+ billion people. So don’t complain.
BTW, “carbon based fuels” include oil shale (>120 years worth of oil in a single deposit in Colorado) and coal (800 to 1,000 years worth of energy for every need in the U.S. sits in U.S. coal deposits). We will transition to other energy sources long before they run out because we will simply find better ways to produce, distribute, and store energy. But that won’t happen overnight.
Unlike the EU that has accepted the demize of the automobile as a primary mode of transportation we blistfully go on supporting the automakers.
The EU has done no such thing. They can’t get by without the automobile and carbon based fuels any more than we can. They may have more mass transit than we do, but they are also a fraction of the physical size.
It is time for a change and perhaps we can learn from our friends in Europe and elsewhere that mass transit just might be the only way to go.
Mass transit only works in cities of very high density. It would take more energy to build and operate mass transit across the average American city than it currently takes to build and operate cars. So do you want to increase our consumption of carbon based fuels?
Why don’t we all stop beating around the bush we need alternate fuel and i mean now. hydrogen fuel cells would be my guess and solar for our homes.
What are you going to produce the hydrogen with? If we transition the entire automobile fleet to hydrogen, we will need roughly as much energy in the form of electricity to produce the hydrogen as we currently consume in the form of liquid carbon fuels to power our cars directly. (Not to mention the energy to produce all the cars to replace our existing fleet “now”.) We would need to triple our coal fired electrical output to replace oil as a transportation fuel. If you just don’t like importing oil, that’s fine so far because that would get us off foreign oil and onto coal. And we have centuries worth of that. But if you believe the computer models and are afraid of global warming, a coal -> electricity -> hydrogen -> car chain will likely release more carbon than now.
We could produce hydrogen without carbon using nucelar, but that would require at least a 6x increase in nuclear generating capacity. This in a country that hasn’t built a nuclear plant in decades even though it is by far the safest, cheapest, and least polluting energy source we can actually rely on.
It’s not even worth discussing producing the hydrogen from solar or wind. These play such a minor part in U.S. energy production they don’t even get their own columns in EIA reports, instead they’re just lumped with a dozen other alternative energy processes under “Other Renewables”. The don’t play any larger role in global production. The cost to produce a solar and/or wind network capable of generating enough electricity to fuel a hydrogen car fleet would be staggering right now. It would take us a decade just to ramp up production of the raw materials and parts and build the network. If (big if) solar continues to drop in price to the point that it becomes competitive with coal and natural gas, I’m all for it. But it has a long ways to go, and once it’s there it will take a lot of construction to begin to offset existing energy sources. That’s not “now”.
And how do you want every American driver to pay for a new hydrogen fuel cell car when the fuel cell stack currently costs as much as an entire gasoline car? What about people in parts of the country too cold for a fuel cell stack to start?
Hydrogen evaporates faster than gasoline. Our environment has never been exposed to hydrogen in large quantities. What will be the consequences of that?
Hydrogen fuel cell stacks emit water vapor. Harmless, right? Except that it’s the primary greenhouse gas in our atmosphere. Anybody know if that water is cooled to a liquid and collected by current prototypes, or just spit out into the atmosphere? How will humidity rates change with millions of little humidifiers buzzing around? How will THAT affect the weather, both local and global?
There are no easy solutions. There is no “and I mean now.”
Solar for our homes? You can do that now. Go ahead and shop for a solar system that can power your home completely off grid. You might have second thoughts when you get the price tag for all the necessary equipment, including more solar panels than you probably have land for and a garage full of toxic, heavy metal batteries for storing power you need when the sun doesn’t shine.
Now CARB is demanding a reduction in CO2 emissions (best met by improving fuel economy).
You could double U.S. fuel economy standards and according to the global warming climate simulations not alter the temperature curve by a fraction of 1 degree. But why should we let that stop the state of California from making life more expensive for everyone?
Technologically we have no way to replace the current automobile fleet with a zero-carbon equivalent. We do have one way to produce the electricity we need without carbon: nuclear. But the entire planet would have to shift all fossil fuel fired electrical generation to nuclear to actually make a difference in the temperature growth curve if the climate models are to be believed. Right now China opens a new coal plant every week. And America will hardly consider new nuclear plants. Good luck on that shift!
I don’t know what bothers me more. The fact that as I study the climate in depth I become more and more convinced that global warming is a non-issue. Or the fact that if it is an issue, all the solutions currently being proposed are completely worthless. They won’t alter the temperature curve by a tenth of one degree. So what’s the point of even discussing it? Why do anything if what we’re going to do will harm our standard of living but not actually change the temperature?
If they take the time to label the chips as being trans fat free, why don’t they also label it as being full of cancer causing acrylamides?
To get the same cancer-causing dose as the lab rats upon which this claim was made, you would need to eat 62.5 pounds of chips per day.
Worry about things that could actually kill you.
Someone told me that electric cars that are almost as powerful as petrol run cars, have already been invented but didn’t go into production coz if it did, the fuel companies would suffer terrible losses. Wonder if it’s really true….
Someone lied to you. Battery technology is behind where it needs to be to replace the ICE. Horsepower is not a problem, an electric motor can be made every bit as powerful as a gas motor. The problem is that the battery pack for the electric motor is expensive, has a short lifespan, can’t store enough energy for long trips, and takes a long time to recharge.
Anybody into a R/C hobby (R/C cars, planes, or helicopters) knows the score on gas vs. electric. An R/C race car using the best battery money can buy might run 20-30 minutes. A gas version will run for hours.
The electric vehicle is not for everyone. It can only meet the needs of 90% of the population.
Utter and complete nonsense. Most people couldn’t get by with an EV even if they did cost the same as a gas car. I could probably survive with the 245 mile charge-range of one of these (http://www.teslamotors.com/), but then $100,000 buys a lot of gasoline, even at today’s prices. Even if they were, say, $30k, 90% of the population couldn’t get by with them. Where do you put the kids and groceries? Or the tools? How do you tow the boat? Or take a long vacation?
Is there a higher truth to these matters?
Yes. The higher truth is that the video presents half-truths and misrepresentations to make it look like EVs are currently viable. They are not. Do some research on battery capacity and costs and you’ll realize that as plain as day.
I mean really, the car they complain about being destroyed DESERVED to be destroyed! It was an expensive pile with no power or range, that had to be subsidized heavily by taxpayers for the handful of people who actually drove them. (And not far with that range, I might add.) I would have crushed those things for scrap metal to. The Tesla Roadster is a car, but a sports car that’s too expensive and impractical for most people.
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see a battery break through that would make EVs viable. I’m hoping it will happen sometime in the next decade or two. Tesla Motors thinks they can build a $30k sedan in the near future. I doubt it, but I’m hoping they prove me wrong. BUT…if the goal is to get away from carbon based fuels because of global warming, we would still have to accept nuclear power. Otherwise the EVs are hardly better than what we have now.
Just had to do that.
Hooray! Quotes closed!
And the best energy solution is one that takes advantage of *all* possible sources, and uses each according to where they are the most suitable. Nuclear where lots of generative power is needed, solar and wind to supplement the grid, oil for transportation, coal where it can be done in a sufficiently clean manner, etc.
Correlation does not equal causation, so please use caution in accepting conclusions based on correlation. Death rates are much higher in the vicinity of hospitals, for instance.
I notice nobody has asked how Midgley was able to continue inventing things others were unable to come up with after deliberately exposing himself to the TEL additive. Was he immune?
Also, liquid or compressed hydrogen is not a fuel. No amount of wishful thinking will ever turn it into a fuel, either.
EV’s are in use already where they make sense. As in lift trucks, where the weight of the battery is a bonus, the extra space doesn’t matter, and the extra cost of the fuel is negligible compared to CNG. The extra cost of replacing the battery limits their use, though.
Oh my gawd … my father worked for Ethyl Corporation for almost 40 years. What a nightmare this is. I’ll have to discuss this with him when he comes for Christmas.
I know I will be reviled for saying this, after reading nearly every post here: I am disappointed to see nearly universal acceptance of the environmentalist, anti-capitalist bromides, and practically no one willing to speak out to balance it even a little bit.
Everything in life, including technology, has advantages and disadvantages. With successful technology, the advantages are usually immediately obvious, which is what makes it successful. The disadvantages frequently only become evident after 300 million people gradually adopt the technology over years or decades, at which point the notoriously unscientific press delights in painting it as a catastrophe. And why not? A bunch of English majors with more than just a little math and science anxiety can sell papers, magazines and books (we never hear about money-grubbing journalists do we?) regardless of the damage that THEY do. Economic upheaval can hurt people just as much as environmental problems can.
What you think you know about asbestos, DDT, tetraethyl lead, CFCs and now CO2, ain’t necessarily so, no matter how many times it is repeated on the evening news. A little healthy skepticism goes a long ways.
Remember, if the alternatives were practical, affordable and themselves without undesirable side-effects, why wouldn’t we already be using them? Usually, you only have to scratch the surface to see why they’re not the panacea they’re claimed to be. And it is rarely due to a conspiracy theory about some vendor of an established technology.
“chronic government incompetence”
That is the perfect bumper sticker.
What an informative article. But I agree with those who caution against presumptions with regard to crime statistics. I believe it was Will Rogers who said, “He used statistics as a drunk uses a light pole,…for support rather than illumination.”
I have found that, if you find a simple answer to something, it generally turns out to be wrong. Sometimes it is very wrong, but almost never is it totally wrong. The trouble is, we all are compellingly drawn to simplification. It is why we so frequently choose very simple, uncomplicated people as our leaders. People who inspire; who move us emotionally; people who exude utter certainty about their positions and courses of action. Fanatics.
Life, reality, the universe are all complex beyond any possible imagining. So what do we do? We imagine a creator who/which can embrace all of that; an all-knowing, omnipotent god.
Then, on top of that, we imbue our governments with ideal characteristics, with a “rightness” which cannot be easily challenged. It is obviously (at least to us) the best government there is. Maybe the best government there ever was. To suggest otherwise is a bit like bumping a beehive. It may be exciting for a short time, but soon becomes unremittingly unpleasant.
These remarks began as a preamble to some comments I wanted to make in response to an essay about the history of the use of tetraethyl lead in vehicle fuel. The essay was written by one of perhaps a dozen or so skilled writers, writing on diverse subjects, which seemingly had little in common, other than being damn interesting.
One thing I noticed very early on, is that the essays, while they were not short, and treated their subject beyond the “sound bite” level, did not express strong opinions. And even if they were not exhaustively comprehensive, generally managed to be quite thought provoking, and yet, always refrained from coming to any firm conclusions. There was no obvious advocacy of a position. My hat is off to them for being able to manage that. It is something I find very difficult to do.
Another thing that I noticed was the sheer number of comments. Oh, they were often short and without much informational value. But sometimes they were longer, with good ideas and firmly held, sometimes acrimonious opinions. Collectively they were often more than ten times the length of the original essay. Remarkable.
And I repeat, the original essay was not written from the position of any sort of obvious advocacy. It did not matter to me that so many of the responses were blather or at least not well thought out. In terms of the average of posts on the internet, the batting average of these comments was still remarkably high.
Now a few observations about the tetra-ethyl lead story. What stands out to me is that, as early as the 1920’s there is persuasive evidence that the world at large, and specifically authorities in the U.S. government knew the grave dangers posed to the public by leaded gasoline. The authorities ignored it. As a result, we all absorbed this toxin, slowly but continuously for a half century. I find it really hard to be neutral about that.
Another point that really grabs me is that this irresponsibly creative chemist, Thomas Midgley also brought the world chlorofluorocarbons. It is perhaps a fitting irony that he was murdered by one of his own inventions.
Conspicuously absent in the article was any mention of any adverse consequences to the politicians, judges, and businessmen who contributed to the duration and severity of this disaster. As far as I can tell, none of them were inconvenienced in any way, other than breathing the same air that we all did.
This lack of consequences has consequences. Our leadership knows they can trump up reasons to wage war, for example, and will never be held accountable. Not just because of scandals of this sort, but more directly from history. Weapons of mass destruction: trumped up to wage war. Gulf of Tonkin: trumped up to wage war. The sinking of the Battleship Maine: trumped up to wage war. Was the “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor truly a surprise to all elements of the American government? There is some evidence to the contrary.
Will the shrub or any of his weeds ever be made to account for their actions? Not likely. Damn. I didn’t mean to say that at all. Oh well, luckily it is just a comment on an old essay from last year that no one has looked at for months. Who reads archives anyway?
Here is another Tuskegee kind of can of worms. An AP story today: SLUDGE TESTED AS LEAD-POISONING FIX
“Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients.”
Before going on, I would like to add that when you go to the local home center and buy a sack of “potting soil” it may also include unlabeled industrial waste sludge in the mix. Now back to AP.
“Nine low-income families in Baltimore row houses agreed to let researchers till the sewage sludge into their yards and plant new grass. In exchange, they were given food coupons as well as the free lawns as part of a study published in 2005 and funded by the Housing and Urban Development Department.
The Associated Press reviewed grant documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and interviewed researchers. No one involved with the $446,231 grant for the two-year study would identify the participants, citing privacy concerns. There is no evidence there was ever any medical follow-up.”
Now, without any sort of medical follow-up, one must wonder exactly what was being found out in this study. It could be that the object of the study was to find out if poor, largely disenfranchised populations would notice AND be in a position to raise an objection.
The bottom line here folks, is that we are all in the same boat on this one. In many industrial countries, it is already well-established practice to deposit industrial waste sludge and sewage on farmland, plowing it into the soil from which we harvest our food. We have been doing it for decades. We can’t even sort out what land it has been done to. And there are those privacy concerns. The privacy of all the companies that seek the cheapest way to dispose of industrial effluents. Who cares if the next generations have to pay the tab for the cleanup of this mess? For that matter, can it even be cleaned up? We may find out, much too late, it can’t.
What could HUD have possibly been thinking? Oh, I just made a logical mistake. Clearly, Government agencies can’t really think. And I am not singling out any specific country when I say that. The story focuses on a situation in the U.S. The problem is worldwide, and no one will be held responsible for the irrepairable damage we may be doing present and future generations, any more than anyone was punished for the extra lead we all breathed for most of a century, when we really KNEW how dangerous it was.
The problem is not the sewage. We can deal with that just fine if it stays unmixed with all the assorted heavy metals and exotic chemicals in our industrial wastes.
I do not know what to do about this. But I do know that mixing our normal shit with the much worse, virtually unquantifiable complex of exotic industrial shit before spreading it on our farmland and lawns is NOT the right answer.
Now, a final note on this story. Look at this:
“The sludge, researchers said, put the children at less risk of brain or nerve damage from lead. A highly toxic element once widely used in gasoline and paint, lead has been shown to cause brain damage among children who ate lead-based paint that had flaked off their homes.
The researchers said the phosphate and iron in the sludge can bind to lead and other hazardous metals in the soil, allowing the combination to pass safely through a child’s body if eaten.”
Apparently, the idea is, if the children eat some leaded paint chips flaking off their dwellings AND eat some of the “treated” dirt at roughly the same time, THEN phosphates and iron will sequester the lead in such a way as to render it LESS harmful to the children. Presumably, the children were instructed to always eat some of the lawn dirt every time they decided to treat themselves to a few house paint chips.
QUESTION: Why couldn’t we just give the little tykes little tablets of iron and phosphate each day. (I am not advocating this.)
ANSWER: Well, we would have to have a study… (into the intercom) … Irma, would you bring in some Grant Proposal Forms please? …Oh yes, and a Freedom Of Idiocy In Government form, Revision #90758654832(A), subsection 2.
No, that’s not the idea. As the article you quoted said, “Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil. Families were assured the sludge was safe and were never told about any harmful ingredients.”
The idea, whether valid or not, was to try to minimize lead poisoning from contaminated soil. It had nothing to do with the issue of kids eating lead-based paint.
There may very well be problems with this particular “solution,” as well as with the “study,” but there is nothing linking the issue of lead-contaminated soil and lead-based paint. Not, at least, in the case of the article you mentioned.
If you look into it a bit further Sid, you will find that lead based paint chips are the single most cited source of lead poisoning in children, not eating dirt.
There was no mention that this poor Baltimore neighborhood was a super fund site, although that is certainly possible. If it is a superfund clean up site, one would think that the affected families would have been relocated, compensated in some fashion other than a free lawn and some food coupons, and not been experimented on further by bureaucrats in HUD.
At the heart of scientific method is the elimination of variables so that the results are made unambiguous. In this case, an unknown number of extreme variables were ADDED.
The money squandered in this situation could have been better spent in a whole variety of ways other than experimenting on high risk children and their families.
And of course there is a link between flaking lead based paint and lead in the soil. A reasonable person can make the connection fairly readily, without an expensive “study” or specific mention in a news article. Paint chips not previously eaten by children DO wind up in the dirt. So either way, your argument is faulty in the extreme, adding confusion rather than sense.
The central thrust of the solution will contain prevention of the children from eating the soil, not mixing an antidote into it and letting the kids continue to eat it. Do you work in government Sid? Your thinking is a lot like that of a bureaucrat, I’m sorry to say.
I don’t question that, nor did I in my post.
I never suggested it was, nor did the article.
No argument from me there. Our government squanders money regularly. But that’s got nothing to do with where you erred.
There you may actually have a point. But one might argue that the “theory” behind this “experiment,” using your lead-based paint chips in the soil position, is that the sludge would bind to those chips that make it to the soil. Thus, according to the “theory” behind the “study,” kids eating the soil (with the chips in it) would be “safe.” I don’t necessarily buy that theory. But it is not the same thing as your statement regarding the “idea” that the kids would be expected to eat chips that had not made it to the soil, then ingest the treated soil in order to be “safe.” My argument is not faulty, but your statement was. Or misleading. In either case, my argument regarding your statement was fine.
You may very well be correct about the solution, although keeping kids from putting things in their mouth they should not is a struggle that far predates soil contamination issues. No, I don’t work “in” government. I work “with” government, mostly against bureaucrats. I probably have a better idea how they operate than most. I appreciate and strongly support the free exchange of ideas and information, which most bureaucrats do not. I just don’t support misdirection and/or fallacious arguments, whether intentional or not. I don’t know if your statement was intentionally misleading, but misleading it was.
I have noticed that in your often interminable debates with others, you have the capacity to bring in extraneous detail to such an extent that eventually the central issues being discussed are virtually forgotten. So let’s see if we can get back to the core issues involved here.
The AP story speaks for itself. It is a news story. As news stories go, it is reasonably well written I suppose.
My post quoted the story and included some of my own opinions, put in persuasive terms. Most of us can recognize that satire, sarcasm, irony, and so on, have a valid place in human discourse. So I am not going to focus on the AP story, only mentioning one portion which directly points out that flaking paint chips, not the yard soil, contrary to what you have said, are a central issue. The rest of the AP story being deleted, we will be able to search for actual error on my part, and find those grossly misleading statements that you charge against me.
I have been persuasive, not misleading. I stand by my remarks in their entirety.
You have me mistaken for someone else. The points I raise in my posts always address specific points raised in the posts to which I respond. I did so in the first post regarding your misleading statement, and continued in my response to your response. If anything, you have strayed from the specific points in question, both in your initial post that prompted my response, and in your subsequent attempts at defending your post. But yes, let’s see if we can get back on point.
If you say so. That wasn’t really an integral part of the discussion, though, so why include such “extraneous detail”?
You did state your opinions, but not so much in “persuasive terms.” Misleading terms, sure, but not “persuasive.” If you were using one of the literary devices you mentioned, then perhaps I misread you. It might have been more clear, though, if you had made a satirical/sarcastic/ironic comment that related to the story. The story was about using the sludge in poor neighborhoods in an attempt to “study” the ability of the sludge to render lead in the soil safe. I read the whole article, not just your snippets. And while it may very well be true that lead paint is the real threat, and, more specifically, lead paint that has not made it to the soil to be “sludged,” nothing in the article even remotely implied the goal of the “study” was to solve the problem of kids eating lead paint chips. Again, it dealt with lead in the soil, so your satirical/sarcastic/ironic comment was unrelated to the article or the “study,” except, perhaps, in your own mind.
The two most telling passages from the article:
“Scientists using federal grants spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil.”
“‘They were told that their lawn, as it stood, before it was treated, was a lead danger to their children,’ said Chaney. ‘So that even if they ate some of the soil, there would not be as much of a risk as there was before. And that’s what the science shows.'”
Again, the “study” dealt with lead in the soil, and was never intended to address lead-based paint chips flaking off the walls of the house, as you seemed to imply with your satirical/sarcastic/ironic comment.
I, of course, disagree.
I really do not believe that you can recognize satire or irony or sarcasm. These are not synonyms. I don’t think I used all of them at once in any statement. I believe you just like to argue. I doubt I can find anyone who likes to argue more. None of your arguments have been sound. None of them have been persuasive. Just long-winded and endlessly repetitive. You said I was misleading. You did not sustain your position. Perhaps some jurors will weigh in with a vote.
I have little faith that you could be persuaded to assess your own position and do it objectively, based on the presented facts. I have tried to sort out some of your other debates, without great success. And in this one, I haven’t been able to sort your actual stance about the central issues of the story. Mixed industrial effluents in sludge are just that. They are unknowns. I see no evidence that there was any sort of analysis of the sludge even to determine what other heavy metals, or insecticides or herbicides, not to mention the thousands of other unknown chemicals like dioxin might be recombining in new ways. I for one find you unusually fatiguing, sir, and will be delighted if a vote comes in.
I am the defendant. I say your charge is baseless and without foundation.
Since you are the prosecutor, people who say “guilty” find for you. People who say “not guilty” find for me. The defense rests.
Wow, you’ve got some persecution complex! All I did was point out an error you made. When you chose to defend it, I could only determine it wasn’t an error, and was actually intentional, thus, intentionally misleading. I’m not trying to put you on trial, just clarify things.
As for the article, that wasn’t the point of the dialogue. But since you must know, I find the “study” to be somewhat suspect, as well as the tactics used.
But back to the crux of the disagreement. Again, the article was about the “study,” and its claim that it was designed to look into sludge as a protection against lead poisoning from ingesting soil. Neither the “study” nor the article had anything to do with protections from ingesting lead-based paint chips. But you tried to make that connection, so I clarified your error/misleading comment.
As for satire/sarcasm/irony, you threw them all out there, not me, in an attempt to defend/explain your comment. Since I’m not sure which device you intended to use in your misleading statement about teaching kids to eat dirt with chips, I just bunched them all together. To be more clear, though, I could see you trying to employ either satire or sarcasm in your comment, or even both (not synonymous, but can certainly be used in conjunction), but irony would be a stretch. Not sure why you even mentioned it, but you did, so I grouped them all.
Finally, if you find my views from previous discussions difficult to follow or fatiguing, then that may have as much to do with you as it does me. You seem to get easily frustrated when people don’t see things your way. Many of your posts lash out at individuals for not meeting your lofty standards of dialogue, or for not taking up discussions you feel must be taken up. That’s certainly your right, but is likely fatiguing to others.
After all is said and done, though, we are each simply offering our personal opinions. If people want to vote in an opinion poll, that’s their choice. But it is just an opinion poll, not a trial. Relax. I’m sure you’ll do fine. Plenty of posters have stated they don’t like my views or tactics. You are correct, though. I do like to argue. But only when I see misleading or erroneous statements that someone wants to try to defend.
There is no sense at all in wasting my time trying to converse with someone with such a selective, tunnel-visioned and unprincipled approach to argument. You brought the attack against me. And a pointless attack it was,
since you have sidestepped any solid position at all on the rightness or wrongness of the government bankrolling unconscionable, dangerous experiments on the most helpless segments of our society, which is exactly what the Tuskegee study did for four decades.
For all I know, you may now start to point out the differences in this study and the Tuskegee study. Both were criminal in the extreme. I get irate when these sorts of violations of human rights occur. You won’t even make a stand.
You are too busy finding sophistries and engaging in totally circular logic. You don’t even attack with a purpose. You just attack because you get a kick out of arguing. Interminable debate, as I have seen you do before, with no real point evident in your position which can be nailed down concretely, does no service here. You are not interested in doing a service. Your only motive seems to be to start fights, pointless or not. You are wishy washy even about the study. The value or evil of the study is certainly of more importance than anything else here. You deliberately throw up your own misleading smokescreen about paint chips being the issue. You vaguely suggest that the study might have some value, but refuse to commit yourself any further than that.
Requesting a verdict from third parties and ultimately refusing to communicate further with someone like yourself, who will not take an actual position on the issue at hand but just wants to argue pointlessly about the most trivial of the details, even though chipping house paint WAS brought up in the story is entirely useless. I am entirely content to leave it to third parties to sort this dispute, and I believe there is already sufficient evidence for a verdict with what has already been said.
Now, I realize that this thread is four months old, so few people are seeing it, but I’m in no hurry. I’ll wait for a few weeks to get some notion how third parties view each of our positions. No one need really explain their position with paragraphs of exposition. Better for them to just say GUILTY (if they believe you have sustained your position), or NOT GUILTY (if they believe that I have refuted your position and demonstrated my position to be correct.
I hold you to be an aimless pseudo-intellectual of little or no discernable value. Long before you brought the charge of misleading or innaccurate against me, (now revised to include deliberately) I had given up reading your arguments with others because they were so convoluted and, in essence, without merit.
What will be accomplished by letting this go to the jury? We will eventually get a sense of how third parties feel or think about our respective positions. That will be interesting. But the central thing is, we will stop engaging in a useless, pointless, endless “flame war.” Let us now wait for a verdict.
I bet you’re a real gas at cocktail parties. Good luck with your trial. Just don’t go making misleading statements in the future, and I won’t point them out. And to clarify your unique perception on things, it wasn’t an attack I posted initially, just a clarification of your error. You seem to have a distaste for many who disagree with you, even on simple issues. It was actually you who turned this into a “flame war.” But if you don’t want a continuing dialogue, don’t try to defend your misleading statements.
As for making a stand on violations of human rights, you post your objections on websites, while I have written laws. Which do you think has had a greater impact on human rights?
Perhaps you had something to do with the laws that govern our banking and real estate community? Is your specialty to add the inexplicable convolutions to the laws before they go on the books? From the samples of your writing I have seen, that is your likely niche.
I never met a lawyer I was able to like for more than short periods of time, and in most of those cases, I was able to see my error in fairly short order. You imply that you are, or have been, a legislator. It is probably not possible for my respect for you to diminish further, but you will perhaps prove me wrong on that.
Perhaps, since you brought it up, you would enlighten us as to the law you were instrumental writing which you are proudest of.
There is no question in my mind that badly thought out laws, not only today, but throughout history, have done more evil to human rights and the human condition than any other social element.
So yes, you have probably had more negative impact on society than I have. I would bet, at long odds, that that was the case.
I did not bring this up. You did. So again, cite a law which you were instrumental in writing, which you are proud of. We will take a look and see if your pride is well founded.
Yeah, your posts are always so concise, and to the point. That’s what I admire most about them.
I never said I was a lawyer, nor even implied it. Likewise, I never said or implied I was a legislator. What I said was I have written laws. If you can’t see beyond such a simplistic understanding of the legislative process, where only lawyers and/or legislators are involved, then I don’t really see the benefit of trying to teach you about the reality of how laws are made.
I do agree with your views on badly thought out laws, though. I’ve written amendments to a few of those to vastly improve them, and had some of the more oppressive ones repealed.
By the way, you keep talking about “us” and “we.” You got a frog in your pocket? This seems to be a dialogue (if you could call it that) between you and me. I don’t think it interests most people who visit this site.
Finally, no, I won’t honor your request for examples of laws I have written. I honestly just don’t care enough about what you think of me to worry about whether you believe me.
If this were only a dialogue between you and me, it would most certainly not be happening. Although no one else is currently mixing in their opinions, the readership here is involved and affected. I include the readership in the plural pronouns which you have brought up for yet another obfuscating smokescreen.
“I’ve written amendments to a few of those to vastly improve them, and had some of the more oppressive ones repealed.”
You take PERSONAL responsibility for the production of good laws and the repeal of bad laws, yet you won’t cite a single example but go on to say:
“I never said I was a lawyer, nor even implied it. Likewise, I never said or implied I was a legislator. What I said was I have written laws. If you can’t see beyond such a simplistic understanding of the legislative process, where only lawyers and/or legislators are involved, then I don’t really see the benefit of trying to teach you about the reality of how laws are made.”
Of course you tried to give the impression you were a lefislator. It is widely held and believed that it is our legislators, most of whom are lawyers, who bear the responsibility for making our laws. The truth is that (almost) none of them even carefully reads the full text of a prospective law before voting on it, but rely on analysis and condensations provided by their staff, before doing the carpetbagging, horse-trading and adding of “earmarks” which so often appear to be the central legislative functions.
It will come as a great surprise to many legislators that they are not the ones that draft and enact laws. Otherwise, why would they so often refer to themselves as lawmakers? Little did they know that it was in fact YOU who was personally responsible for the enactment of some laws and the repeal of others, and it is with considerable relief that I accept your assurance that you are not, in fact, a legislator. Clearly though, you have had some serious training in convoluted reasoning, so it is quite credible that you have associated with them for an extended period of time.
And I remind you that it was you who started this dialogue. Therefore, your last paragraph:
“Finally, no, I won’t honor your request for examples of laws I have written. I honestly just don’t care enough about what you think of me to worry about whether you believe me.”
This is gutless and illogical. If, in your opinion, we are having a private conversation and you do not care about my opinion, why would YOU have initiated this dialogue? Until you sought me out, I have studiously avoided any response to your debates with others because of your various facile sophistries.
And I might add, I requested a jury to decide this matter in a vain attempt to foreclose further conversation with you.
To lurkers, spectators, and people who are annoyed with interminable flame wars; you have the opportunity to do a little something about it. You can cast a vote in the verdict. Please do! You need not explain it. Just say GUILTY if Sid the Accuser is right, or NOT GUILTY if you believe that my position prevails. I just know that there are some who have formed an opinion. Exercise your right to make your opinion count. It is of value.
You may be right that the readership is “involved,” but only in the sense that they have to scroll past our posts to get to something they want to read. It is likely most simply don’t care.
No, I take personal responsibility for having WRITTEN laws. I wrote them, certain legislatures passed them, and certain governors signed them into law. How else am I supposed to say that without taking personal responsibility for writing what I wrote?
No, I did not. I stated quite clearly that I work WITH government, not IN government. You either don’t understand the difference, or choose to ignore it. Perhaps I’m a grassroots activist who has access to legislators because they know me, so they accept my suggestions. Or maybe I’m a lobbyist who offers legislation to promote my employer’s agenda. I could even be an executive who hires lobbyists to promote what I’d like to have promoted by offering the legislation I write. The political process is a complex entity, with any number of possibilities for getting things done. The area I work in has no opportunity for “earmarks,” and I don’t get involved in trading this vote for that.
Legislators understand how the process works. Sometimes they write legislation, sometimes they have staff do it, and sometimes they accept legislation from people outside of the government machine. I don’t do it by myself, nor did I imply I do. Again, I said I have WRITTEN laws, not passed them. But I will concede that when I said I have “had some of the more oppressive [laws] repealed,” I could have been more clear. I have let legislators know what I would like to see repealed, and they have done the work to achieve that goal.
The thought of you finding my statement “gutless” leaves me feeling…well…nothing. I’m not sure how it qualifies as “illogical,” though. I “initiated this dialogue” because I felt you made a statement that was either in error, or misleading. I continued it when you tried to defend your statement. And as you escalated it into a “flame war,” I started to enjoy the process. But don’t confuse that with me caring what you think. I really don’t. It is partially for that reason I decline to honor your request. But I also like the anonymity. Were I to reveal what I have done, and where, you could figure out who I am. If I wanted you, or others, to know who I am, I would have used my name, rather than the screen name I have chosen. That’s what most, including you, do. Unless that’s your real name, in which case I can understand why you are so angry/sensitive.
But if you had found error in one of my posts on other topics, you should have felt free to chime in. That’s how this thing works. It’s kind of a no-rules, free-fire zone, where anyone who posts opens themselves up to comments from others. But don’t make yourself out to be any more important than anyone else here. I did not “[seek] you out.” I read your post, as I read most, found a flaw, and pointed it out. You clearly took personal offense, and, here we are.
Gee, there’s a much easier way than trying to drag others into this in some sort of desperate attempt at validation. Just don’t respond to me. If you say nothing to me, I have nothing to say to you.
No, just sid, but I do like the sound of Sid the Accuser. Very medieval, no? Perhaps I should buy a black, hooded cloak. But give people time. Don’t sound so desperate. As I said before, others have already voiced opposition to my views, as well as my tactics. I’m sure your little “trial” will go just fine, and you will get at least some of the validation you seek. But will judgement be based on irrefutable proof, or just a preponderance of the evidence? Can you feel the excitement in the air over the pending “verdict”? Yeah, me neither.
So you are not IN government but work WITH government. You are not a lawyer, not a legislator, yet you write laws and repeals of laws. And you somehow do this all without objection from the legislators who really ought to be doing it. That must make you a lobbyist. How many Johns did you have, and which corporate pimps were your favorite bosses?
Wow! You seem so educated, yet so incapable of basic comprehension, all at the same time. If “lobbyist” is all you can come up with, even after I gave you other specific options, and alluded to the idea that what I had offered was not the limit of possibilities, you must have concluded that calling me a lobbyist, and implying all lobbyists are whores, was your best option. Sad, really. You seemed more capable than that, but I’ve underestimated people before. I guess your limited understanding of the legislative process explains all your frustration with the government in general, and your belief that you have been somehow wronged by government agents.
Just to clarify my position… I agree with Anthropositor that the study he quotes sounds like a terrible violation of human rights, but that’s not what the “trial” is about is it? It is about whether or not Sid’s accusation of “misleading comments” holds true. I believe it does, and find Anthropositor to be guilty on the charge of making “misleading comments.” The minimum sentence for this violation is one (1) apology to the plaintiff, and a fine of five (5) e-peen points. Due to the preponderance of e-peen points already lost in dialogue, the fine will be waived, and the sentence will be reduced to one (1) apology.
Thank you for your participation Web. Not quite sure what an e-peen point is. Guess it does not matter. However, one vote does not make a verdict.
I just took another look at the red text of #111 which is only my comments isolated out on the AP story, and am still unable to find the part that is “misleading.” What specific statement which I made sustains that charge? And whatever statement that it might be, does it really measure up to negate the central point that I was making, that the “study” was unconscionable, and should not have been funded, permitted, or performed at all.
In other words, did whatever was misleading really intrinsically negate or invalidate the point of the story? You are under no constraint to answer. I appreciate your getting involved at all.
I’ll withhold further comment until some others add votes.
But I didn’t originally comment on #111. My comment was on #107, which does not have the rather substantive deletion you have made in #111. The original passage, with which I had the problem, stated:
The problem is with the last sentence of the first paragaph, and the statement made in the first sentence of the following paragraph. Again, the article, and the “study,” refer to sludge as a “remedy” to ingesting soil that is contaminated with lead. Your satirical (I presume) comment refers to lead-based paint chips. Editing out that last sentence in the first paragraph, as you did in #111, makes sense only if you intend to mislead folks as to the origin of our disagreement. It serves no other purpose, as far as I can tell.
Well sid, I find myself agreeing with you once again. I find Anthropositor guilty of refusing to acknowledge that his statement was misleading, unless it was meant to be not taken seriously. The study had nothing to do with eating paint flakes found inside the home or on childrens’ toys, only lead contaminants in the backyard soil. Leaded paint residue might very well be found in the soil, and presumably, would be ingested simultaneously. I think most would agree that the study was questionable, if not unethical. I just went back and read through this whole exchange, and I think sid took the relatively high road in this one. Hopefully this will temper this debate’s mass takeover of the “Recent Comments” section, although that may be a moot point as I see there’s a new article to enjoy.
And if you really need your pseudo-juridical fix: GUILTY
Post #111 had as its’ stated purpose the removal of the news story so that all of my own statements could be isolated out for examination. The whole story was deleted for that purpose; so that my remarks could be examined in isolation. Odd though that you would select out these two paragraphs, which clearly demonstrate my point about the paint chips being a part of the story. You were saying the story had nothing about paint chips originally. My statement in #111 is pretty clear:
“The rest of the AP story being deleted, we will be able to search for actual error on my part, and find those grossly misleading statements that you charge against me.”
So clearly, this was yet another obfuscation or a logic failure on your part. Perhaps an artifact of your long years of lip service of an unidentified sort to one government appendage or another.
I never said the story had “nothing about paint chips.” What I have said, at varying points of this discussion, is:
“It had nothing to do with the issue of kids eating lead-based paint.”
“And while it may very well be true that lead paint is the real threat, and, more specifically, lead paint that has not made it to the soil to be “sludged,” nothing in the article even remotely implied the goal of the “study” was to solve the problem of kids eating lead paint chips.”
“Neither the “study” nor the article had anything to do with protections from ingesting lead-based paint chips.”
Again, let’s stick with #107. However, your statement about deleting the rest of the AP article is, again, in error. Yes, you deleted most of it. But in #111, you included one sentence that made a reference to lead-based paint chips, which I presume you hoped would support your position, then deleted the sentence that immediately followed, which brought the crux of the article back into focus. Again, the article was about a “study” seeking “solutions” to kids ingesting lead-contaminated soil. It was not about “solutions” to kids ingesting lead-based paint chips, which was the focus of your attempt at satire.
You seem to have a fascination with sex. Good for you, but it probably doesn’t help your cause much when you try to interject it into these kinds of dialogues. You may want to consider another tactic at trying to insult your way to victory.
Can we run our car with water and gas?
Can anybody tell me is the HHO Gas is real working or is another scam?
hi there, I use water to fuel a car as a supplement to gasoline. In fact, very little water is needed, only one quart of water provides over 1800 gallons of HHO gas which can literally last for months and significantly increase your car fuel efficiently, improve emissions quality, and save money. I found the way through this site http://www.runcarsonwater.us i really recommend it to everybody, it’s a nice eBook where you can find the instructions on how to do it! take a look.
Hey, the thirties also saw the beginning of WWII and the subsequent Cold War lasted until the beginning of the nineties. Clearly the lead has to be responsible!
(Incidentally: http://xkcd.com/552/ )
Regarding the later flame war, I found Sid’s postings to be objective and to the point if a bit nit-picky, while Anthropositor seemed to develop a fair bit of paranoia early on and later resorted to mud-flinging instead of argument.
READ ABOUT THIS INCREDIBLY STORY, ABOUT A DESTRUCTIVE CHEMIST , AND LUCKILY
A DR. CLAIR PATTERSON WHO THROUGH HIS RESEARCH SAVED OUR WORLD FROM
POLLUTING NO LONGER THEN NECESSARY,,, WITH THESE POISONS!!!
some teasers here to get you interested, Frank G
In 1921, after a long string of inadequate solutions, a clever but chronically catastrophic chemist named Thomas Midgley developed a fuel additive which eliminated ping problems while increasing fuel efficiency.
Upon learning that automotive fuel with lead was the source of the contamination.
Dr. Patterson began to publish materials discussing the toxic metal’s ubiquity and its probable ill effects.
Patterson proposed taking core samples from pack ice in Greenland, and testing the lead content of each layer.
The results showed that airborne lead had been negligible before 1923, and that it had climbed precipitously ever since. In 1965, when the tests were conducted, lead levels were roughly 1,000 times higher than they had been in the pre-Ethyl era. He also compared modern bone samples to that of older human remains, and found that modern humans’ lead levels were hundreds of times higher.
The Ethyl corporation allegedly offered him lucrative employment in exchange for more favorable research results, but Dr. Patterson declined. For a time thereafter, Patterson found himself ostracized from government and corporate sponsored research projects, including the a National Research Council panel on atmospheric lead contamination.
As for Thomas Midgley, the father of leaded gasoline continued his distinguished career by inventing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the refrigerants and aerosol propellants which famously destroyed a considerable section of the Earth’s ozone layer before they were banned.
It is worth noting, however, that in the early years of Ethyl’s availability, basic refinery advances boosted the base octane of fuel by 20-30 points, whereas Ethyl additive only boosted it by about nine points. In retrospect, Ethyl’s octane improvements were somewhat overstated, and the product owed most of its success to crafty marketing, misleading research, and chronic government incompetence. Whatever Ethyl’s benefits, it saturated the planet with an insidious poison, and the true magnitude of its past, present, and future harm are yet to be known.
This brings me closer to my story about , gm (general motors) yes only in small letters.
The most !@#%#$&*^%$#XXXXXXX #@$%^&^%!!! polluting company on this planet.
Yes Great remark Cellania, if he did not kill himself he might have keep on going to pollute the world.
Frank G said “if he did not kill himself he might have keep on going to pollute the world.”
Thanks Frank G for that. You look smart with your light bulb picture. I will have to agree and disagree with you, yes he might have gone on to pollute the world, but hasn’t that already happened? I guess its a catch 22, where you would never want someone to kill themselves, but maybe there’s a greater good involved? I don’t know. I don’t exactly have an exact opinion on this. Thoughts? Lead Toxicity
All NASA needs to do now is find another unseen bacteria which consumes lead to put in its DNA blocks and somehow mass produce it. Easy peasy.
Try Walking. Of course Asia air doesn’t mix with our air!! Do you really think the CHINESE care… as long as they are paid to supply you with disposable JUNK. You can’t even see there.
I never did buy the “theory” the children were being lead poisoned by easting paint off the window sill. Just didn’t make logical sense. Now the leaded gasoline facts do make sense.
Cars must never go away. It would be the total and complete end of freedom to billions of people everywhere. Cars do not need to be poison. Hybrids and pure electric cars are NOT the answer. Hybrids use hundreds of pounds of highly toxic batteries that must be manufactured and disposed of, as well as a gasoline engine. Purely electric cars won’t help either. They use even more toxic batteries, and these batteries are recharged by electricity from toxic sources. There is nothing “green” about these vehicles, in fact they appear to be dirtier than purely gas powered cars.
I’ll come right out and say it. People have putting this idea down for decades (yes it has been around for that long) I am a believer in hydrogen fueled vehicles. Yes there are still some technical issues, though I believe they are very minor compared to electric vehicles, which do not solve anything anyway. I think we would have most if not all of these issues solved now if we had been working on this rather than electric power, which as I’ve already stated, I believe to have no future at all.
Interesting. This article appeared on 12.08.07, and that was my wife’s 55th birthday.
And yesterday was her 66th birthday.
One day shy of a year has passed already. Amazing.
I’m losing track of time. Maybe it’s losing track of me…
And it’s only two days shy of eleven years for me.
Checking back in.
Checking back, just a few days later.
I just keep coming back.
And yet again.
This is a popular article.
I am returned one year later.
Over a year later, I am returned.
Almost a year.
After his work on adding lead to gasoline he started on a new project looking at refrigeration and came up with CFCs which were also used in aerosol cans. Later they were found to be destroying the ozone layer.
He developed Polio which left him severely disabled. He invented a system of ropes and pulleys to get himself out of bed. In 1944, at the age of 55, he became entangled in the device and died of strangulation.
It seems like everything he touched ended in failure!
Thanks for the new information – good stuff.