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Of Environmentalism, Golden Calves and Other False Gods

When I was a kid and learned the story of Moses going up on Mount Zion to get the Ten Commandments and have a palaver with God about his plans for the Children of Israel, I was always befuddled by the story of what they did while he was away.

Exodus 32:
When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

It just made no sense to me.  God had demonstrated his power numerous times with all of the plagues on the Egyptians, the miracles he allowed Moses to perform, and in countless other ways.  Yet they made a golden calf and chose to worship the inanimate creature?

As a kid, I just couldn’t fathom how or why they could be so stupid.  I mean really, it was a statue!

For the first time, I now understand.

In every culture, in every society, man has demonstrated that it is inherent in his nature to worship something.  In the words of Bob Dylan, You gotta serve somebody.

With all of their professed intellect and sophistication, the Left still hasn’t figured that out.  And yet, they are bent on demonstrating it.

Every week, my wife volunteers at my kids’ school, serving lunch.  She has been witness to the lengths that some people will go to serve their god.

There is a teacher at the school, a young gal in her twenties who is bent upon saving the world… by going through the trash.  Every day after lunch, she goes through the garbage and pulls out all the recyclables and puts them in the recycling container, takes the leftover food and paws through it to separate it into a composting container (the school has a garden).  She does this without gloves, and without washing her hands afterward.

I’m sure she feels proud of herself.  Environmentalism is her god.  She has humbled herself before it, and set an example, proselytizing for all of the unbelievers (and probably spread some germs in the process).

Well, this is harmless enough, if silly and useless.

But, the point is she is devoted to the environment.

Then there is a the example of a woman I know who, equally devoted to the same false god, makes sure to shut off the fluorescent lights of any room that she leaves in the workplace.  She believes she is saving the environment.  Mind you, this is during work hours of 8 to 5.  Generally, the lights are turned back on within a short period of time by the next person using the room – say the office kitchen for example, which houses the coffee pot, refrigerator and water cooler.

In this case the irony comes into play because she is actually harming the environment rather than helping it.

How so?

Fluorescent lights are pretty efficient and use less power per lumen than incandescent fixtures do.  However, turning them on and off frequently will decrease the lifespan of the bulbs considerably.  So, if you’re not going to be in the room for an extended period, turn them off.  But if you are, leave them on.

Finally, fluorescent bulbs contain pretty sizable amounts of mercury.  In most buildings, and practically all homes, they are simply discarded when they go bad.  There is no practical safe, environmentally friendly way to dispose of them.  On top of that, most of these lights are manufactured in China.  (You know, the same China that uses lead paint on children’s toys and exports arsenic emitting drywall.) China isn’t known for great environmental practices, and is also known to employ child labor quite extensively

So, what is this woman really helping accomplish?

  1. The lights will not last as long – this will cost the building and tenants more money in the long run.
  2. The bulbs will be disposed of in a landfill, contributing some pretty noxious amounts of mercury to the environment and endangering the health of sanitation workers.
  3. China will continue to have a good market for it’s fluorescent bulbs, continue polluting the environment, and poisoning its workers.

In case you think this is stretching things, consider the following from the EPA:

Once the fluorescent lamps are burnt out (spent), EPA strongly encourages that they be recycled. Proper recycling not only reduces the release of mercury from spent lamps into the environment, but also allows for the reuse of the glass, metals and other components of the spent fluorescent lamps. EPA Whitepaper on recycling fluorescent lamps.

Under federal regulations, the vast majority of mercury-containing lamps are considered a hazardous waste. If you do not test your mercury-containing lamps and prove them non-hazardous, you must assume they are hazardous waste and handle them accordingly. EPA FAQ


The EPA’s instructions on cleanup of a broken bulb should be eye-opening, as an indicator of the toxicity of the mercury contained in these lamps.

Before Cleanup

Have people and pets leave the room.
Air out the room for 5-10 minutes by opening a window or door to the outdoor environment.
Shut off the central forced air heating/air-conditioning system, if you have one.
Collect materials needed to clean up broken bulb:

  • stiff paper or cardboard;
  • sticky tape;
  • damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes (for hard surfaces); and
  • a glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag.

During Cleanup

DO NOT VACUUM.  Vacuuming is not recommended unless broken glass remains after all other cleanup steps have been taken.  Vacuuming could spread mercury-containing powder or mercury vapor.
Be thorough in collecting broken glass and visible powder.
Place cleanup materials in a sealable container.

After Cleanup

Promptly place all bulb debris and cleanup materials, including vacuum cleaner bags, outdoors in a trash container or protected area until materials can be disposed of.  Avoid leaving any bulb fragments or cleanup materials indoors.

Next, check with your local government about disposal requirements in your area, because some localities require fluorescent bulbs (broken or unbroken) be taken to a local recycling center. If there is no such requirement in your area, you can dispose of the materials with your household trash.

If practical, continue to air out the room where the bulb was broken and leave the heating/air conditioning system shut off for several hours.

But, after all this, the instructions urge you not to panic, because, after all these bulbs are supposed to contain only a small amount of mercury.

What the EPA isn’t telling you, is that the regulation on these imported bulbs is very lax.  EPA guidelines aren’t often met.  According to a recent study in 2011, a statistical sampling of common bulbs showed that many of these bulbs contained up to 700% of the supposed amount of mercury.

So how much is that, really?  Well, according to CA government water guidelines,  there should be no more than 1.0 micro gram per liter.  That’s 0.001 mg mercury per liter of water.   The lowest amount of mercury found in this study was 500 times that.

But don’t confuse the issues with the facts.  She feels good turning off the lights at every opportunity.  She has her cause/god, and she is determined to show obeisance.

There are countless other examples of such blind worship:

  • The banning of DDT has cost countless lives, many of them children, to malaria
  • Smug Prius drivers who contribute a much larger “carbon footprint” because of the mining, construction and shipping costs of rare earth metals needed for the batteries that power these vehicles
  • Alternative energy plants that only function when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining – requiring additional, less efficient traditional power plants to augment shortfalls.  (These are less efficient because they have to be maintained and ramped up on demand.)
  • Windmills that slaughter untold thousands of birds
  • Extreme environmentalists/fundamentalists who advocate killing people to save the planet

The list goes on.

Worshiping the golden calf makes a lot more sense to me now, only today it’s not gold – it’s green.


1 steve { 05.24.12 at 6:26 pm }

Great post, you nailed it… “Worshiping the golden calf makes a lot more sense to me now, only today it’s not gold – it’s green.”


2 Joel Mundt { 05.26.12 at 5:13 pm }

I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees environmentalism as a religion. The golden calf cost the Israelites (if I recall) 3,000 lives and a night of bad indigestion. What will this calf cost us?

Excellent work.


3 Martin { 05.26.12 at 5:32 pm }

Thanks Joel. Unfortunately, I think there are many such false gods today.

Here are a few more:

  • Diversity
  • Equality
  • Fairness
  • Multiculturalism


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