In Maryland 150-year-old clock at St. Anne’s gets fluorescent bulbs as part of Earth Day

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev. Bob Wickizer climbed the stairs and wooden ladders yesterday inside the steeple of historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church to reach Annapolis' town clock.

Eighty feet above the center of downtown, he and Kirsten Chapman, head of the church's environmental ministry, gingerly stepped over loose wooden planks coated with dust and ducked under the four metal arms of the clock mechanism to get to the 16 incandescent bulbs that illuminate the clock. Chapman slipped in front of one of the four faces and carefully replaced the bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

This is what it took, on Earth Day, to turn a 150-year-old landmark into a beacon for thinking green.

The new lights promise to keep an estimated 2.5 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere every year by using 75 percent less energy, and save energy and money by lasting 10 times longer. Wickizer hopes that the change will encourage the community to reduce its carbon footprint. Church officials say they believe this is part of God's will.

"Having dominion over [the Earth] doesn't mean trashing it," Wickizer said. "It may have taken the church a while to wake up to that."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources

47 Comments
Posted April 25, 2008 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Sidney wrote:

Well, now at least we know how many parishioners it takes to change a light bulb.

Chapman slipped in front of one of the four faces and carefully replaced the bulbs with compact fluorescent ones.

I wonder if it might have been wasteful to remove the bulbs before they burned out.  Bulbs require energy to manufacture, after all.

April 25, 6:53 pm | [comment link]
2. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Sigh…here are some basic facts:

The generator at the power plant has a huge rotor.  This rotor must spin at about 3,600 RPM to contribute electricity to the grid.  If it goes slower, it will not be synchronized with the rest of the power on the grid…you know, 60 Hz [Europe is 50 Hz].  The amount of fuel to spin that rotor is pretty constant.  The amount of electricity that it can produce is also pretty constant.  It generates about 21,000 amps at 24,000 volts AC (504 MWe).  The energy that isn’t used by you in your home or for some productive use at a factory or business is essentially wasted.  Un-used Watts don’t just sort of sit there in the wire, waiting to be used.  It’s a use it or lose it proposition.

There is a certain minimum electrical production that must be maintained for the grid to work.  When too many people are using too much electricity…it can cause a brown out or black out.  What happens then is that more generators may be brought on-line to temporarily provide for the surge in demand.  They don’t leave all the generators running all the time.

The net result of this church changing it’s light bulbs is like taking a thimble full of water from the ocean.  Oh yeah, there’s mercury in the new light bulbs they are using.

April 25, 7:36 pm | [comment link]
3. ann r wrote:

Right.  So much better to replace relatively non-toxic light bulbs with ones containing so much mercury they are classified as hazardous waste, must not be disposed of in landfill, and if broken in a room the room must be evacuated for 15 minutes before cleaning up with rubber gloves on etc.

April 25, 8:55 pm | [comment link]
4. DonGander wrote:

And Carbon Dioxide is good - we would die without it.

Don

April 25, 8:58 pm | [comment link]
5. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

S&ToN;, please do NOT confuse the people acting symbolically with facts.  It might disrupt that feel good sensation they’re on.

April 25, 9:59 pm | [comment link]
6. Bill Matz wrote:

If the opportunity arises, go up in the tower. Amazing 360 degree view. Best in winter, no leaves blocking view.

April 26, 12:04 am | [comment link]
7. Adam 12 wrote:

I was in Annapolis about a month ago. Half the lights in the clock tower were burned out anyway, as I recall. Signs on the fence talked about an interfaith Peace service of some sort.

April 26, 8:22 am | [comment link]
8. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

Why not go the whole hog and replace it with an accurate digital clock?

New clocks for old?

April 26, 9:00 am | [comment link]
9. aldenjr wrote:

Let me try to give some basic facts as an electrical engineer and former representative for Sylvania Lighting products. 

First; 
Sick and Tired:  You are right, the rotor does not spin slower.  It stays synchronized with the electric grid.  However, with less load on it, because of the reduced current from the compact fluorescent lamps, it takes less work to keep it spinning thus allowing for reduced energy (within a given range).  If the load becomes too low on the turbine (and rotor) it becomes less efficient to keep it spinning and a second smaller turbine may take over (operating within its given range).  The beautiful thing about the electric grid is that this is now all computerized and turbines (and rotors) are all synchronized to operate at their most efficient way to meet load.  As loads change so does the combination of turbines (and rotors) providing electricity to the electric grid.

Second: 
Yes, I can see how it seems that changing out a few incandescent lamps may seem like a thimble-full to the ocean, but it is important to note that if all Americans changed out just one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent in the most highly used light in their house, it would save over 17 million MegaWattHours (MWH) of energy.  That is equivalent to the output of four large coal-fired power plants or enough to power one medium – sized American City for a whole year.

Third:
Sydney:  It is so important to save energy, and because incandescent light bulbs only last 10% the life span of compact fluorescent lamps, and because the cost of incandescent lamps is so low,it is important to go ahead and replace the incandescent lamps, even if they are brand-new.  A compact fluorescent lamp will save nearly $40 over its estimated 7 – year life, $5.70 per year.  So leaving the 50-cent incandescent light bulb in the socket, even for two months, wastes more money than the incandescent light bulb’s cost.

Fourth:
Ann R:  The amount of mercury that goes up the coal plant stack is far greater than the mercury sulfate found in your light bulb.  The amount of mercury in the light bulb is less than 4 grams and is in a relatively benign sulfate form, which, most serious environmentalist would agree, is relatively harmless, and you are only at risk if you break the bulb, and even this is insignificant as long as you clean it up with a broom and dustpan and put in a plastic trash bag.  Yet the amount of mercury that goes up the stack from the use of one incandescent light bulb through the burning of additional coal is 7-8 grams and is in an elemental (pure) state.  It is also in the air, meaning we are breathing it.  This is far more dangerous.  One of the great ironies of our time, with environmentalist hyper-sensitivity to mercury, is that they have focused on mercury in compact fluorescent lamps and landfills while allowing the utilities to spew mercury from the smokestack at will.  At least 15 more mercury spewing coal-fired power plants will be built (3 in the south Atlantic coast states alone) to meet our inability to conserve energy.  The rate of mercury poisoning among women (especially those pregnant) in proximity to coal plants and those eating fish from the Great Lakes is much higher than those not living near the plants.

Fifth: 
Don G:  Even Newt Gingrich and Pat Robertson can be seen regularly on TV commercials asking us to support a movement to reduce GHG emissions of which the main one is CO2.  The debate about CO2 concentrations affecting the temperature of the earth and the increasing concentrations increasing the rate of global warming has been settled.

April 26, 10:14 am | [comment link]
10. Irenaeus wrote:

Green light for conservation. If you like green light.

April 26, 10:35 am | [comment link]
11. CanaAnglican wrote:

Dear Alden,

Thank you for your detailed response.  As a physicist, I get tired of doing the job you have done so well.  Why do people take cheap shots at others who are attempting to be conservative, without lowering their standard of life?  There are many things we could do to improve efficiency and perhaps even improve our standard of living.  Few of us appreciate being criticized for cleaning up our act, since in the long run we are benefitting not only ourselves, but also those who throw the brickbats.  Ouch it hurts!

To add one more note to what you said.  Nuclear plants would be our best solution for electricity, barring a radical breakthrough in fusion.  They release far lower levels of radiation than do coal burning plants.  Most people do not pay attention to the radon and other ratioactive elements found in coal that may go out the stack.

April 26, 10:43 am | [comment link]
12. Ross wrote:

...barring a radical breakthrough in fusion.

One can hope, but as I’m sure you know, practical fusion is about ten to twenty years in the future… and has been for the last fifty years smile

I’d like to see us rely a lot more on nuclear fission power plants, but unfortunately Americans have become terrified of the word “nuclear.”  It will be interesting to see whether the desire for power to run HD televisions will eventually overcome the terror of the “N”-word or not.

April 26, 12:24 pm | [comment link]
13. Bill Matz wrote:

Aldenjr, thanks for the technical comments. But one huge misstatement: CO2 is NOT the main GHG. The most prevalent GHG, by far, is water vapor. CO2 is a distant fourth. Anthropogenic CO2 is a small % of total CO2. And the % of anthropogenic CO2 that is actually within our ability to control is a fraction of that.

Concur with 11/12 that nuclear is much better environmentally. The wate problem is handled with either permanent storage or reprocessing. The problem is that we have not been able to decide which is our national policy. The resultant temporary storage is more dangerous.

April 26, 1:13 pm | [comment link]
14. CanaAnglican wrote:

#12.  Ross.  We seem to be in total agreement that nuclear plants (meaning fission) are the way to go.  I just did not want to say fusion may be 100, 200, or more years away, because no one knows what breakthrough could occur.  Anyway, fission is here and over the next 10 to 20 years we could build many plants.  I have been in Yucca Mountain and it looks like the technically preferred repository.  That said, a more energy conservative approach would be to reprocess.  I think Jimmy Carter set us back about 40 years on that score.  The public perception of N has already changed some and hopefully will continue.

April 26, 3:12 pm | [comment link]
15. lost in texas wrote:

Actually the debate about global warming is far from settled. Just because Al Gore said does not make it so. There are literally thousands of climate scientists who disagree witht the proposition. In addition, the computer models used are far less sophisticated to predict with any accuracy climate changes. Lastly of CO2 causes temperature increase, then why does CO2 lag temperature increase even on the warming acolytes charts. Look to the sun as the major cause of climate change. We are now entering a sun spot minimum . The average global temperature has not risen since 1998. If we are the mafor cause for global warming then why the lack of temperature increase. Lest any here think I am a shill. I am in the energy efficient construction business. Every time there is another hysterical account of it being hot in the summer, my business increases.

April 26, 3:55 pm | [comment link]
16. Chris Hathaway wrote:

I look forward to the day when we can celebrate Earth day by drilling it….a lot!

April 26, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
17. John316 wrote:

It seems that Three Mile Island in ‘79 followed by Chernobyl in ‘86 soured the public on Nuclear for that generation and probably the next.

April 26, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
18. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

Things to consider with fluorescent lighting:
******************
“According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, ’ . . . human exposure to fluorescent lights may result in ultraviolet B doses much greater than that of the sun,” and that such exposure “remains a potential risk factor for melanoma,’ a type of skin cancer.”

Source: http://clinicahealth.usnews.com/blogs.pl?op=display&id=170
******************
“All CFLs contain mercury, a neurotoxin that can cause kidney and brain damage.

The amount is tiny — about 5 milligrams, or barely enough to cover the tip of a pen — but that is enough to contaminate up to 6,000 gallons of water beyond safe drinking levels, extrapolated from Stanford University research on mercury. Even the latest lamps promoted as ‘low-mercury’ can contaminate more than 1,000 gallons of water beyond safe levels.”

Source:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23694819/
******************
“Erythemagenic (295-305 nm) ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation is toxic to patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Cool white fluorescent lamp emissions produce a similar toxicity even though the UVB radiation emitted is primarily at the relatively non-erythemagenic wavelength of 313 nm.

CONCLUSION—The results indicate that radiation from fluorescent lamps possesses substantial photoimmunological capability, sufficient to activate a potent, potentially dangerous, disease-modifying, immunomodulatory pathway and that poorly erythemagenic, primarily monochromatic UVB photons are responsible.”

Translation:  If you have lupus,  UV radiation from fluorescent lamps can really hurt you.

Source:  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1005355
******************
Here is what the EPA tells you to do if you break one of the bulbs in your home:

Fluorescent light bulbs contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing. EPA recommends the following clean-up and disposal guidelines:

Before Clean-up: Ventilate the Room

Have people and pets leave the room, and don’t let anyone walk through the breakage area on their way out.
Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
Clean-Up Steps for Hard Surfaces

Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
Clean-up Steps for Carpeting or Rug

Carefully pick up glass fragments and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
If vacuuming is needed after all visible materials are removed, vacuum the area where the bulb was broken.
Remove the vacuum bag (or empty and wipe the canister), and put the bag or vacuum debris in a sealed plastic bag.
Disposal of Clean-up Materials

Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing clean-up materials.
Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken mercury-containing bulbs be taken to a local recycling center.
Future Cleaning of Carpeting or Rug: Ventilate the Room During and After Vacuuming

The next several times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

Source:  http://www.epa.gov/mercury/spills/index.htm#flourescent

***************
So…tell me again how SAFE these lightbulbs are.

April 26, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
19. Daniel Muth wrote:

Re the comments on Nuclear Power:
There was an interesting survey on public attitudes a decade and a half or so ago.  What it found was that most people did not oppose the building pf nuclear plants in their vicinity but assumed that theri neighbors would.  I have long suspected that what this shows is that the public never had the negative attitude they supposedly had, but rather thought everyone else did since that’s how it was always played in the media.  The biggest obstacle to new nuclear plants has always been Wall Street (remember TMI resulted in stoppage of all nuclear construction at a time when interest rates were about 20% resulting in $500 million plants costing $4 billion by the time they came on line, if they came on line - not popular with investors) and they have changed their minds by now.  Several license applications are currently being reviewed and the first new plants should start construction within the next three years or so, one of them here in Maryland about 40 miles south of Annapolis (to be built by my current employer). 

It’s a mite ironic that our industry is largely being revived by the whole man-made-contribution-to-global-warming thing which I think is so much hooey.  Sunspots count for far more warming than greenhouse gases and 97% of greenhouse gas is water vapor.  But then I’m no climatologist.  Anyway, the nuclear renaissance is underway and I see little that can stop it.  For some of us at least, this is cause for rejoicing.

April 26, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
20. CanaAnglican wrote:

#17. John,  That was probably true for a while.  Now it may be possible for people to see that no one died at Three Mile Island, but plenty of people die in coal mines.  As for Chernobyl, the Russian design was such a joke NRC would never have issued it a permit to operate in the US.

We get close to 20% of our electricity from nuclear power.  France is at about 80%.  Because the US base is so much larger than that in France, we produce about 1.5 times as much electricity by nuclear means as do the French.  I see increased calls in the press for more nuclear power, so the tide may have turned already.

April 26, 6:04 pm | [comment link]
21. Irenaeus wrote:

Alden [#9]: Many thanks for your careful, factual explanations.

April 26, 6:57 pm | [comment link]
22. Harvey wrote:

#17 - John and others.  A family member of mine currently residing in Texas and dealing with nuclear reactors made an observation comparing 3-mile Island versus Cherbynol.  If I remember correctly 3-mile Island went into a controlled operation shutdown (graphite rods or water shutdown I do not know) but the plant shut itself down and no one died.  At Cherbynol for some reason or another the reactor went into complete meltdown loading up the air above it with deadly nuclear radiation as well as many square miles surrounding it.  The meltdown also made the concrete buildings surrounding the reactor so radioactive they had to encase the entire area with a tremendous amount of concrete.  At the latest count dozens of personnel died of radioactive poisoning both at the moment of visiting and years later.  Comments please!!

April 26, 7:49 pm | [comment link]
23. aldenjr wrote:

Sick and Tired raises an interesting point.  He implies that fluorescent lamps are dangerous compared to incandescent lamps.  If so, we must conclude that it has been a mistake for industrial, commercial, institutional and government facilities around the country to use fluorescent lighting instead of incandescent.  In fact, I could imagine serious lawsuits pending since most America either works or shops under fluorescent lighting on a regular basis and has had serious exposure risk to the well documented maladies cited in Sick and Tired’s post.  Let’s assume, then, that it has been all a mistake and see what we should have done instead. 

Since two thirds of all energy consumption is, in fact, used by non-residential households where at least 50% of the lighting is provided for by fluorescent systems, then it would be easy to deduce what the impact would be if, instead, it were all incandescent.  According to the Energy Information Administration the US economy used 3.67 billion MWHs of electricity in 2006.  From my lighting days, I recall that 20% - 25% of facility energy use was directly related to lighting.  An additional amount (about 15%) of energy is required for cooling that lighting load, but let’s ignore that, for now, to be conservative.  And, as the subject article already confirmed, fluorescent lighting consumes about 25% the energy of incandescent (lumen per lumen).  Therefore, if all facilities in the US had not used fluorescent lighting,but incandescent instead, we would have been required to increase energy generation by (3.67 x .6667 x .25 x .50 x 4) – (3.67 x .6667 x .25 x.50 x 1)  or 3.67 x .25 = 900+ million MWHs.

This number means that we would have needed at least an additional 225 large coal-fired power plants to power the incandescent lighting.  I say coal, because that currently is the only power plant option that continually gets approved for construction in most states now.  225+ is more than 4 large additional coal-fired power plants in each state each emitting an additional 300 tons of mercury into the air per year – not to mention all the other emissions.  I wonder which world Sick and Tired would want to live in, the one that is free of the deadly fluorescent lamps but with all the additional coal generated mercury in the air or the one we live in now where we have successfully cohabited with fluorescent lighting for nearly 80 years?  I have been living in my household with 100% compact fluorescent lamps for the last 20 years.  Because I was in the lighting business, I have broken many.  At nearly 50 years now I have not noticed any of the side affects mentioned in Sick and Tired’s previous post.

April 26, 8:11 pm | [comment link]
24. aldenjr wrote:

Correction - I should have said 300 - 500 pounds of mercury per power plant (not tons) sorry for the missprint.

April 26, 8:33 pm | [comment link]
25. Daniel Muth wrote:

“Harvey”#22:
I am a professional Nuclear Engineer.  Three Mile Island was a Pressurized Water Reactor.  That is, water is used both to moderate the neutrons (slow them down sufficiently to enable the Uranium 235 atoms to absorb them, turn into unstable Uranium 236, which then fissions) and to remove the heat from the reactor core.  In a Pressurized Water Reactor, the water that flows through the core is kept under 2250 pounds per square inch pressure to keep it from boiling at the roughly 535 degrees at which the core operates (these numbers will, of course vary from plant to plant).  This “primary” water passes into a series of small pipes in a heat exchanger.  Lower pressure “secondary” water on the other side of the pipes boils, turns into steam, and turns a turbine, spinning a magnet inside a copper coil, inducing an electric current on it.  A reservoir of boiling water (i.e. a mixture of water and steam) is maintained as part of the primary system to prevent expanding water from bursting all the primary piping.  This is called the Pressurizer. 

What happened at Three Mile Island is that a valve stuck open on top of the Pressurizer.  Water and steam leaked out to the point where the core started to uncover.  Without flowing water to remove the heat, the core started to melt.  Automatic systems turned on to send emergency cooling water to the core, but the operators shut them off because they did not realize that the valve was stuck open and their indication showed that the water level was getting too high in the Pressurizer.  They were trying to prevent the system from “going solid” in which the steam bubble inside the Pressurizer is lost and the expanding water would burst the piping, resulting in an uncontrollable leak.  They did not realize that the water was already leaking and that the core was becoming uncovered.  Once they realized the mistake, they added turned the emergency cooling water systems back on.  The containment building on any American reactor is made of concrete three feet thick and is built to withstand a 50 pound per square inch explosion.  This was never approached at TMI.  The accident was entirely contained, save for the venting of some radioactive gases.  The core was partially melted and the reactor could never again be used.

Chernobyl is an RMBK-style reactor that uses blocks of carbon for a moderator and water for cooling.  This has the advantage that the reactor does not need to be shut down for refueling and can operate continuously.  What happened at Chrenobyl was that an experiment was being conducted to shut down the reactor and use the kinetic energy of the plant’s turbine to restart it.  However, the experiment was delayed for several reasons and reactor power was allowed to drop to about 15 per cent.  At this power level, an RMBK reactor is highly unstable.  Rather then discontinue the experiment or delay until the reactor could be brought back to a safer power level, the operators were told to go ahead.  They did so and when the reactor began behaving erratically, they pushed the scram button, dropping the control rods into the reactor.  The problem here is that each control rod has an activated plutonium tip, which actually added reactivity, causing power to be added (this is fine at full power but deadly at low power).  The added heat energy caused the rod channels to swell, causing the control rods to stick and not drop all the way.  As the reactor got hotter and without the control rods to shut down the chain reaction, the reactor heated up, boiling off the cooling water. 

This is called a “positive moderator temperature coefficient”.  As temperature rises, so does reactor power.  A water cooled and moderated reactor does not work this way.  As the water boils off, reactor power goes down because the water is also the moderator (remember, a moderator slows down the neutrons, allowing the fission reaction to take place); this is called a negative moderator temperature coefficient.  All American reactors are water cooled and moderated, and so have negative coefficients. 

Not so Chernobyl.  As the reactor heated up, the coolant boiled off but the graphite moderator stayed in place, moderating the neutrons and increasing the temperature inside the reactor.  Eventually, the water got so hot that it split into hydrogen and oxygen, both highly explosive.  These gases caught fire in the heat of the reactor and exploded.  An American-style containment structure could have contained even this explosion, but Chernobyl had no containment structure, only a light steel building around it.  The reactor was blown up into the air, sending deadly chumks of extremely radioactive uranium, graphite, and fission products showering down on the site.  Several score operators, firemen, and other workers were killed.  With nothing to contain the fission product gases, these were emitted into the environment. 

It was pretty much a worst-case scenario.  One of the operators, named Akimov, died several days later of radiation sickness.  On his deathbed, all he could say over and over to his wife (he was 32) was “I don’t understand.  We did everything correctly…”  As far as he knew he had.  He had done what he was told to do, but did not have a sufficient understanding of how that style of reactor worked and so did not know that the moment he scrammed the reactor, he had inadvertendly killed himself and so many others.  It is a painful lesson that we in the nuclear industry have learned well.

April 26, 9:05 pm | [comment link]
26. Mike Bertaut wrote:

This thread is a masterful demonstration of why T19 rocks!  Where else in the world are we going to get this much expertise on a single blog for free!  Wicked!  I’m particularly grateful for the explanation of the difference in TMI and Chernobyl. 

AS for me, I just HATE to change light bulbs.  I don’t care if the things are made out of dark matter and emit gamma rays, if it takes it a lot longer to burn out, I’m using it!  No ladders, no balancing acts, no fighting off bugs and cobwebs, no dramatic BLINKS! scaring the crap out of me when I flip on a light switch.  I’m in.

So, I’m replacing every bulb in the house with flourescents (they make them in so many cool shapes and sizes nowadays, water resistant, indoor, outdoor, even floodlamps!)  because I hate to change bulbs.  I figure the less I fool with bulbs, the less chance there is I’ll break one, no matter what’s inside.

I know, I know, Cajun Logic.  But there it is.

KTF!...mrb

April 26, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
27. Robert A. wrote:

14. CanaAnglican: There is some disagreement about whether reprocessing IS the best way to go.  See here, for instance:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=rethinking-nuclear-fuel-recycling

April 27, 3:07 am | [comment link]
28. Juandeveras wrote:

So the Lord proclaimed Earth Day and environmental ministries ?
How quaint. How biblical. How Episcopalian.

April 27, 3:22 am | [comment link]
29. aldenjr wrote:

Is not the Lord an Environmentalist?

In the beginning God created (the world) and it was good!  —-  Yahweh in Genesis
I will establish my covenant between me and you and every living creature. —-  Yahweh in Genesis
Yours is the day and yours is the night.  You made summer and you made winter. —-  David in Psalms
Let the Earth Bless the Lord.  —- David in Psalms
All creation groans awaiting redemption.  —-  St. Paul in Romans

Here is an interesting sermon from Fr. Larry Bernard deriving from St. Paul’s statement above.  I have excerpted some key points made in the sermon.
http://www.nafra-sfo.org/ACC/Ecology_Sessions/ALLCREATIONGROANSAWAITINGREDEMPTION.html
1)  humanity plays a distinct role in the salvation of the world and 2) salvation is larger than humanity alone.”
Pope John Paul II seems to build solidly and urgently on this Christian and Franciscan tradition when he concludes his message on the Ecological Crisis saying “the commitment of believers to a healthy environment for everyone stems directly from their belief in God the Creator, from their recognition of the effects of original and personal sin, and from the certainty of having been redeemed by Christ. Respect for life and for the dignity of the human person extends also to the rest of creation, which is called to join man in praising God (cf. Ps 148: 96).
“In 1979, I proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi as the heavenly Patron of those who promote ecology (cf. Apostolic Letter Inter Sanctos: AAS 71 [1979], 1509f.). He offers Christians an example of genuine and deep respect for the integrity of creation. As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, St. Francis invited all of creation-animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon-to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.
———————————-            ———————————————        ———————————————-
It would then appear that not only the Episcopal Church but also the late Pope and the Catholic Church believe that our relationship to the environment is a key step in our process toward salvation and that we are closer to God when we are at peace with the world. 
This all says to me that the Lord is an environmentalist.  But never mind all that. 

If you consider that most believe that actions to reduce Climate Change will help the least of these of whom Jesus said: 
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me. “
—- Jesus   Matthew 25:40
Think about famine, disease, floods.  We can adapt, but the least of these will suffer.  That gets me every time.

April 27, 8:15 am | [comment link]
30. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I wonder which world Sick and Tired would want to live in, the one that is free of the deadly fluorescent lamps but with all the additional coal generated mercury in the air or the one we live in now where we have successfully cohabited with fluorescent lighting for nearly 80 years?

I would like us to live in a world with more sky lights in factories and wide usage of fiber optics to “pipe” sunlight into homes and factories.  [Check this out:  http://www.sunlight-direct.com/products.html ]  I would like to see us using geo-thermal heating and cooling systems on a massive industrial scale.  We could save about 40% of our energy usage just by taking advantage of the difference between the ambient air temperatures and the earths nearly constant temperature [only 10 feet down] of 50-60 degrees.  Imagine starting your air conditioning with air thats 54 degrees instead of the 80—100 degrees outside.  Imagine starting your heating with air that is 54 degrees instead of 32 degrees.  You don’t have to imagine.  You can read about it.  [Check it out:  http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/heatpumps.html ]

I also think we could make better use of Stirling engines.  25 KW generators are already commercially available [Check it out:  http://www.stirlingenergy.com/ ] and I think we could make good use of combining their efficiency with geothermal technology just as the Swedish company Kockums is doing with solar.

I also think that nuclear energy is a direction we should be going in, and I don’t have a problem with us using our untapped oil reserves in Alaska and the Dakota’s or using our vast amount of coal.  Modern coal plants with scrubbers in the smoke stacks are an excellent choice.  I do have a problem with government mandated use of a particular kind of light bulb; and unlike some, I have never made my living by advocating for any particular kind of light bulb.

I have been living in my household with 100% compact fluorescent lamps for the last 20 years.  Because I was in the lighting business, I have broken many.  At nearly 50 years now I have not noticed any of the side affects mentioned in Sick and Tired’s previous post.

  I am sure that lupus sufferers, skin cancer survivors, and epileptics can all join me in offering you congratulations on your excellent health.  Perhaps, you might consider leaving them the option of trying to maintain their own health and minimize their suffering.  For my part, I wish you well with your flourescent lighting.  Bonne chance.

April 27, 9:00 am | [comment link]
31. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I think a little context is needed concerning the Lord being an “environmentalist”:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 2 Peter 3:10-13 (New American Standard Bible)


Yes, we should be good stewards, but in being good stewards we should also keep in mind what is and what is not important and what is lasting and what is passing away.

April 27, 9:08 am | [comment link]
32. libraryjim wrote:

Alden:
but it is important to note that if all Americans changed out just one incandescent light bulb to a compact fluorescent in the most highly used light in their house, it would save over 17 million MegaWattHours (MWH) of energy.  That is equivalent to the output of four large coal-fired power plants or enough to power one medium – sized American City for a whole year.

Fourth:
Ann R:  The amount of mercury that goes up the coal plant stack is far greater than the mercury sulfate found in your light bulb.  The amount of mercury in the light bulb is less than 4 grams and is in a relatively benign sulfate form, which, most serious environmentalist would agree, is relatively harmless,

you are talking to Ann about ONE BULB.  But if you multiply that bulb by 30 bulbs per average household and then again by all the households in America, as you suggested to Sydney, then you have a whopping amount of Mercury which must be disposed of properly, per EPA guidelines (which is where Ann got the info for leaving the room empty with an open window, and then making sure not to touch the fragments/residue with bare hands!). However, many communities do NOT have restirictions on disposal (ours does not), and these bulbs and the mercury they contain will end up in the land-fill.

So lets see:
Tallahassee population (c. 2000 census) = 160,000 lets divide by 4 (assuming an average of four per household) = 40,000 households.  Let’s assume 30 bulbs per house (ceiling fans, etc.), = 1,200,000 CFB’s. 

Add to that at least 32,000 non-resident students enrolled at just FSU, I’m not sure of FAMU’s enrollment, but let’s say 25,000, and then there are the legislators, also non-resident, so not counted in census, but requiring light at night.  The amount of that 4g of mercury per bulb really adds up fast, doesn’t it? And again, we have no special plans for disposal, so it goes right into our landfills, which not only affect our ground water, but the spings, such as Wakulla and Econfina, as well.

Now, how much mercury is too much for the environment???

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

April 27, 1:37 pm | [comment link]
33. aldenjr wrote:

Jim – if you reread my post # 9 I said that 7-8 grams (actually I misspoke saying grams - should be milligrams) of mercury go up the coal stack for every incandescent light bulb not changed to a compact fluorescent lamp for the energy difference.  That is at least three milligrams difference per light bulb.  Furthermore, the milligrams of mercury going up the stack are pure elemental mercury, while the mercury in the compact fluorescent light bulb is more of an inert mercury sulfate and is not harmful if disposed of in a lined landfill.  You don’t have lined landfills in Tallahassee, well, as a citizen, you should demand they get one.

I’m sure you can do the math, though, and multiply 7 milligrams for every light bulb not changed to incandescent.  That is how much more mercury we are breathing.  The EPA disposal rules are, I think, one of the great bonehead decisions made by that agency.  Instead of focusing on getting the mercury out of the air, they have succeeded in scaring Americans away from a relatively harmless part of the Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb in an effort to keep mercury sulfates out of the landfills.  I suppose the reasoning is they were afraid that mercury might leach out of the landfill and affect the drinking water.  News alert to the EPA!!!  The number one contributor of mercury in our water is coal-fired power plant emissions.

April 27, 2:36 pm | [comment link]
34. libraryjim wrote:

Again, Alden, not in our area. Our electricity is produced using natural gas and hydro-electric power sources.

So, we are actually seeing a net-pollution gain by using and disposing CFBs.

And there are many areas of the country that do NOT rely on coal fired plants (hydro-, natural gas, other gas sourced) which will have the same result.  Also, many communities are denying new coal plants permission to be built in their areas (we just had one voted down by the Florida Power Commission for Taylor County). 

So, your argument is flawed in that regard.

On another topic:

Plus some CFB’s don’t do so well in cold climates.  One pack I bought had the notice on the INSIDE of the packaging that said “May have problems lighting in temperatures under 40 degrees”.  Another pack stated (again INSIDE) they were ‘reliable to 5 degrees, may take time to come to full light’ (or something like that).  So you don’t really know from the package which is which, until you buy and open them.

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

April 27, 5:16 pm | [comment link]
35. libraryjim wrote:

You don’t have lined landfills in Tallahassee, well, as a citizen, you should demand they get one.

You don’t know our city/county commission that well, do you!  Public input is welcome and then ignored.  And the idiots in this town keep re-electing the same people time and again.

April 27, 5:17 pm | [comment link]
36. ann r wrote:

Re Aldenjr: If you consider that most believe that actions to reduce Climate Change will help the least of these of whom Jesus said:
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did to one of the least of these
brothers of mine, you did to me. “  then you have to consider the possibility that most are wrong regarding the choice of action.  Everything I have read indicates the idiotic measures proposed to reduce “climate change” will actually harm the poor far more than the wealthy.  People on a very limited budget just don’t have the $$ to go out and buy high tech stuff, rely on ancient gas guzzler vehicles to get to work, live in poorly insulated mobile homes, etc.  Consider that there are many light fixtures which will not accommodate compact fluorescents.  All those would need to be replaced.  Consider that very often lights are turned on in a room and turned off again in 15 minutes or less (stair well, bathroom, etc.)  I have read that considerably reduces the lifespan of fluorescents.    On a more personal level, I use incandescent lamps to keep my pump house warm enough to keep the pump and pipes from freezing.  I would rather not use heat lamps for that purpose, as ordinary light bulbs work just fine.  Our power is all hydro.

April 27, 5:50 pm | [comment link]
37. libraryjim wrote:

Right, Ann, I have at last count 8 fixtures that cannot use CFBs.  Most are the ‘chandelier’ size bulbs, which are sized smaller than the ‘chandelier’ sized CFBs, which will absolutely NOT fit the fixture due to the small space of the shade or space around the bulb.

Not to mention the outdoor floodlights (8), for which I use halogen outdoor floodlights.  They are exposed to the elements, as well, and CFBs are not designed for that type of use.

Peace
Jim Elliott <><

April 27, 6:11 pm | [comment link]
38. CanaAnglican wrote:

#27 Robert,
Yes, there are two sides to every coin.  My bias is toward not wasting the incredible amount of energy that remains in spent fuel.  Reprocessing is done today (in France) and probably can be made more efficient in the future.

Terrorism is a very real consideration, but the threats there may be greater from nuclear sources in other parts of the world.  Clearly, significant steps would be required to secure the nuclear fuel system in this country—much of it already in place.

Daniel Muth’s input on this subject would be most helpful.  I really appreciated the great summary he provided at # 25.

April 27, 7:36 pm | [comment link]
39. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I forgot about the incandescent heat lamps!  Heat lamps are used on farms to keep young poultry or young pigs warm.  How will a government mandated switch to fluorescent light bulbs affect poultry production?  Will the poor be forced to pay yet more for chicken?  Pork?

April 28, 9:55 am | [comment link]
40. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

I also know for a fact that incandescent heat lamps are used to heat certain portions of the antenna arrays on long range radars.  Sweeping mandates are starting not to look so good.  There are health concerns, pollution concerns, farming concerns, and infrastructure concerns associated with the centralized master plan.

Un-intended consequences can be a real problem…and sometimes, it is very hard to turn the train around…like brain drain in an organization.  Once the action is taken, it can take years [or never] to recover if it turns out to have been the wrong decision. 

Here is a thought.  Let the market place decide!

April 28, 10:00 am | [comment link]
41. John316 wrote:

SaToN,

Heat lamps are used on farms to keep young poultry or young pigs warm.


As I drive around the country, particularly out west, I notice that farms are using windmills to generate power for some applications.  Perhaps that would work in this situation.

April 28, 10:33 am | [comment link]
42. Daniel Muth wrote:

“CanaAnglican” #38 -

My regrets at not participating more here, but I’m on travel yet again this week.  As to much of the conversation above, I see nothing wrong with people using fluorescent bulbs if they like and they probably make good sense, though I wouldn’t pretend they’re going to actually do anything to affect global warming, which continues to look to these eyes to be almost entirely unaffected by human activity.  As far as mercury being added to the environment, I would just ask where it came from in the first place if not the “environment” to which it is now going back.  What you’ve done, of course, is relocate and possibly concentrate the mercury (though as “aldenjr” notes in #33 the form is not unimportant) and that can be problematic.  That going up power plant stacks is dispersed in a way that that coming out of a damaged bulb is not.  As always, the “solution to pollution is dilution”.  Still, the amounts sound small enough to me that, although any amount of mercury, like radiation, should be treated with respect, I don’t see the big deal.

As to your question regarding reprocessing, we always like to talk about it in my business because, 1) we get to grouse about Carter more and he’s been the bogeyman for the nuke industry for almost 30 years; 2) it’s fun to talk about compacting a year’s worth of waste from the average nuclear plant from a mass the size of my work cubicle to something that will fit under my desk.  As far as the article in #27, I couldn’t read the whole thing, but it’s probably right.  Reprocessing is probably worth more for scoring rhetorical points than actually recovering much in the way of usable plutonium.  It does drop the lifetime of nuclear waste from millions of years to tens of thousands.  And that’s fun to contemplate, too.

The thing about nuclear energy is that it is far more efficient in converting mass to energy than just burning stuff and so we get astonishingly little waste (a little over 1000 cubic feet, or a 10’ x 10’ x 10’ cube, every other year for an 850 megawatt nuclear plant).  Of course, it’s bloody lethal stuff, so we keep it under 30 feet of water for about 10 years and then stick it in a concrete bunker until they finish Yucca Mountain (the world’s most expensive hole in the ground) or whatever they’re going to do.  Again, you’re not dealing with much waste and it’s lethality drops asymptotically toward zero, but that does take a while.  Burying it in a stable geologic formation makes a lot of sense.  Again, that’s where the uranium came from to begin with.  Oh, and uranium is a very common element.  You’ll get trace amounts of it in your asparagus or any mineral-rich vegetable.

Nuclear waste is a big deal politically and the government has not surprizingly made it into a monstrously expensive political football.  Reprocessing makes sense if you have the infrastructure for it which we don’t and as I say, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out you spend more energy than you would get from the reprocessed plutonium and U235, but I haven’t really looked into it.  It’s worth noting that this is often the problem with recycling in general, or so I’m given to understand.  In some cases, you burn so much coal or whatever to run the reprocessing facility that it causes more net pollution in the end and you’re better off just digging up more raw material, but it depends on a lot of factors and I’m no expert. 

As God’s creation in His creation and the only being in this world made in His image and given dominion over the fish of the sea and birds of the air and cattle and every creeping thing (note that the order of the list is the order in which these are created), we have a unique responsibility for His creation.  Not only, as our medieval forebears understood - and we could learn a thing or two from them - to read His story in the Book of Nature, but also to care for that over which we have been given dominion, recalling Who gave us that gift of dominion, in very direct ways.  Exercising the gift of dominion requires careful study, thoughtful discernment, but I suspect most of all, love of one another as His creation in His creation.  There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing, even energetically, but let’s make sure that we are being good to one another while we are doing it.  I’m glad to see such respectul treatment in this space, despite often strong disagreement and echo Mr. Bertaut’s sentiments in #26 above.  Best regards - DWM

April 28, 10:55 am | [comment link]
43. CanaAnglican wrote:

#42. Daniel Muth,

Once again we are indebted to you for a most helpful post.  It causes me to temper my enthusiasm for reprocessing if there is not a significant net gain in usable energy.  I will continue to be an advocate for nuclear power.  It is clean.  It is efficient.  The latest figures I have seen for cost per KWH were in the 1.6 to 1.7 cent range.  With adequate transmission infrastructure, this would be an almost free way to power electric cars.  Oil consumption would drop like a rock.

I worked under fluorescent lights for 42 years in a government lab and saw no ill effects from them. Sick and Tired will probably see that as evidence that I am now mad as a hatter!

Once again thanks and best wishes,  —Stan

April 28, 11:16 am | [comment link]
44. libraryjim wrote:

evidence that I am now mad as a hatter!

Well, duh!  wink

April 28, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
45. CanaAnglican wrote:

Jim,

Yeah, yeah I know—even worked with fuller’s earth in the lab, broke a couple of thermometers, and played with Hg as a kid at the dentist’s office.  Guess that shows my age! —Stan
P.S. Metallic Hg is not as dangerous as people suppose.  It’s the methylmercury that you need to watch out for.

April 28, 2:54 pm | [comment link]
46. Daniel Muth wrote:

Stan -

Thanks for your kind words.  I hope that I didn’t misspeak in #42.  My intent was to say that it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out not to be worth the effort to resurrect the infrastructure necessary to reprocess.  I haven’t studied the matter and have only the abstract of the referenced article to go on which as far as I know may be wrong.  I suspect that there are a lot of factors to be taken into account.  My plant, Calvert Cliffs, about an hour south of Annapolis, operates on a two-year cycle (a refueling outage, in which roughly a third of the reactor core is replaced with fresh fuel, takes place once every two years).  We use a somewhat higher enrichment than plants on an 18-month cycle (which is how most plants are operated), change out more fuel after its second burn in the plant (vice third - fuel is generally designed to operate for three cycles, that is four and a half years for a plant on 18-month cycles and six years in our case), and operate more on Plutonium (it’s kind of cool - U238 picks up a neutron, beta decays twice to Plutonium 239 - that is, a proton in the nucleus gives off a beta particle, essentially an electron, turning into a proton, meaning in this case that U238 picks up a neutron turning into U239, which beta decays to Thorium 239, which beta decays to Pu239, which behaves pretty much like U235) than plants with shorter cycles.  We probably produce more Pu239 and throw away more U235 than most plants so reprocessing our fuel likely makes sense, while plants with shorter cycles burn up more U235 and produce less plutonium, in which case it might not make as much sense.  As always in the engineering universe, which is to say a particular and fairly small part of the Real World, there are always tradeoffs.

The biggest expense in the nuclear fuel cycle is enrichment of Uranium.  Natural uranium is about 99.6 per cent U238.  Most nuclear plants need about 5% U235 (a bomb has to be at least 95% U235) so their fuel has to be enriched (Canadian designs don’t have the problem - they moderate with heavy water and so can use natural uranium, of course heavy water ain’t cheap - as I say, there are always tradeoffs).  Anyway, as new mines open and more enrichment facilities come on line, reprocessing may make less sense.  Then again, as operating plants find that they can operate longer with shorter refueling outages (it costs about a half a million dollars a day to shut a plant down for refueling so saving a few days a year can pay for a fair amount of wasted uranium), more may go to the scheme our plant uses, likely making reprocessing more cost effective.  And don’t get me started on politics.  Blessings - DWM

April 28, 3:44 pm | [comment link]
47. CanaAnglican wrote:

Daniel,

Politics is often the wrench in the works.  There seems to be a sort of political entropy that eventually drags countries down to the point they need a serious infusion of new energy.

I see your point on the different cycles used, so there may be some room for reprocessing as new reactors come on line.  My guess is that the new plants will be designed for very efficient cycles—especially the new one you will get at Calvert Cliffs.  I remember watching your original facility being built.  I was in the Baltimore-Washington Section of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy at the time and a couple of the members worked for BG and E.

We have retired to the Northern Neck of VA, just a few miles south of you.  Calvert Cliffs makes a great visual landmark when either sailing or flying in that part of the Bay.  Our son-in-law is a pastor near Harrisburg, PA, so TMI is a landmark when flying up that way.  Best wishes, —Stan

April 28, 5:39 pm | [comment link]
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