The Mercury Threat — Again

From Minamata to CFL lightbulbs, the arrogance and indifference of politicians, the bullheadedness of special interests expose innocents to te dangers of mercury

J. R. Dunn
American Thinker

…No one had even seen pictures like this. [W. Eugene] Smith‘s photos contained echoes of the Holocaust, of the effects of plague and starvation. It was news to most that environmental poisoning could occur on such a scale, with such hideous results.  Two photos were particularly striking: “Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath” which portrayed an aging mother bathing her terribly deformed child, and a close-up shot of a child’s hand, the fingers shriveled and turned in on themselves, resembling nothing other than the claws of a maimed bird. This was what mercury poisoning did to young children.

Smith’s photos became some of the most widely seen and easily recognizable of their epoch. They awakened millions to the potential dangers of pollution and played a critical role in the birth of the environmental movement of the 1970s.

In Japan, international attention acted as a switch to the backs of a recalcitrant political establishment. The judicial proceedings, which had been hanging for several years, climaxed in March 1973 with the repudiation of the Chisso Corporation and the triumph of the victims. The court ordered Chisso to pay heavy damages for all deaths and illnesses, payments that continue to this day. Over 10,000 people have been compensated by the corporation…

What do Smith’s photographs have to tell us today? Quite a bit, actually. More than you might think of photos four decades old. Because we’ve come full circle as far as pollution goes. At the time, the task was to separate people from dangerous pollutants such as mercury. But today, mercury in threatening amounts is being returned to the home environment, in the form of pigtail fluorescent bulbs, supposedly to fulfill the same environmental imperative as at Minamata. Although the circumstances have changed, the basics remain the same: the arrogance and indifference of politicians, the bullheadedness of special interests.

The two politicians most responsible are the sponsors of the bill mandating domestic use of fluorescents, Fred Upton (R – Mich.) and Jane Harmon (D – Calif.). Little can be expected of California Democrats, but what of Upton?  In gaining his seat as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he promised to revisit his own bill and see that it was repealed. How likely this is to happen is anybody’s guess. Would he be encouraged in this by studying some old photographs of a terrifying disaster now slipping into history? It’s not much to ask. It would take very little effort to assure that no American child suffers the same horrors that struck a small Japanese village a half-century ago.

Read the entire article at American Thinker.

Also at American Thinker: Dim-Bulb Dems Doom Edison’s Baby

…Let us note that General Electric has been in Barack Obama’s corner from day one and has positioned itself to be a prime beneficiary of the massive green scheming of America that Obama and his allies in Congress are perpetrating across our nation (via taxpayer money, subsidies, loans, mandates, rules, and regulations — an EPA in overdrive). And Obama deserves a chunk of the blame:

General Electric jumped on board the CFL bandwagon — and threw its workers off it without a ticket to get back on. American unions and government rules just did not make it feasible (i.e., profitable) to manufacture CFLs in America. Now most are made by Chinese companies, to which we are sending our green dollars in more ways than one.

Obama is driving jobs overseas. The overt and covert pro-union policies he is jamming through a Democratic Congress and through the executive branch through executive orders, personnel choices, and selective enforcement and interpretation of laws are making factory jobs a thing of the past in America…

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