Monthly Archives: July 2007

Mercury Risk in CFLs: The Facts

The author of today’s post, John Balbus, M.D., is Chief Health Officer at Environmental Defense.

Compact Fluorescent Light BulbCompact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use dramatically less energy than incandescent bulbs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But they also contain mercury – a dangerous toxin.

What if you drop a CFL and it breaks? How much trouble are you in?

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Posted in Health / Read 16 Responses

Plug-in Cars: The Lowdown

This is Part 1 of a three-part series on Vehicle Fuels and Technology.

1. Plug-in Cars: The Lowdown
2. Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles
3. Fossil Fuels and Biofuels


The author of today’s post, Sheryl Canter, is an Online Writer and Editor Manager at Environmental Defense.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles, or PHEVs, have been in the news a lot lately. It’s an appealing idea – virtually no emissions, just plug in your car at night and go. Plus the batteries that drive them could store electricity for homes and offices. When cars are parked and plugged in, the electric utility could draw on stored battery power during times of peak demand (with compensation to the car owner).

But will plug-in cars really be ready for widespread use by 2010?

Toyota Prius Plug-in
Toyota Prius, plug-in version.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution / Read 23 Responses

Extreme Weather Across Europe

The author of today’s post, Bill Chameides, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist at Environmental Defense.

A week or so ago I wrote about all the recent extreme weather in the United States. Well, it’s not just happening here. Great Britain is being hit by the worst flooding in decades, and it keeps on raining. A heatwave blanketing south-eastern Europe has killed hundreds of people, and out-of-control wildfires are burning across Greece.

Is this global warming? It’s impossible to say for sure what causes a particular weather event, but global warming does make extreme weather events more likely. Whether or not the events in Europe are due to global warming, I do think the Europeans are, unfortunately, getting a taste of things to come. For more, visit our Web page on global warming and extreme weather.

Posted in Extreme Weather / Comments are closed

Gray's Hypothesis Doesn't Hold Water

The author of today’s post, Bill Chameides, Ph.D., is Chief Scientist at Environmental Defense.

This morning, the Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed by Dr. William Gray titled "Hurricanes and Hot Air". In it, Dr. Gray argues that there is no link between global warming and the recent "increase in major hurricanes".

Unfortunately, this piece has several inaccuracies and omissions. Let me clear them up.

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Posted in News / Read 12 Responses

The Greenhouse Effect Explained

The author of today’s post, Bill Chameides, is Chief Scientist at Environmental Defense.

Last week we got a request to explain the Greenhouse Effect. Here goes.

The Greenhouse Effect

Source: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior

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Posted in Basic Science of Global Warming / Read 4 Responses

Scientific Uncertainty

The author of today’s post, Lisa Moore, is a scientist in the Climate and Air Program.

I’ve been reading a great book called Uncertain Scienceā€¦ Uncertain World by Henry Pollack – a readable and engaging discussion of decision-making in the face of uncertainty. Pollack argues that decision-makers use uncertainty as an excuse for inaction, when in fact it should be a stimulus for creativity and progress.

How sure do you have to be that something will happen to act on the possibility?

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Posted in News / Read 4 Responses