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EDITORIAL: Global warming catches fire

Crusade against carbon dioxide threatens the environment

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Technologies advanced as the solution to the purported global warming problem are catching fire -- just not in the way intended. Bureaucrats are quickly learning that their regulatory offerings designed to entreat Mother Nature into bestowing cooler temperatures upon the planet have created environmental hazards of their own.

It's well-known that the fluorescent light bulbs being foisted on a reluctant public spread deadly mercury when dropped. In March, the administration will be free to enforce a federally imposed ban on the manufacturing of warm, pleasing and affordable 100-watt light bulbs. This will force more highly toxic substances into millions of American homes.

Another hazard is being created for automobiles sold in Europe -- and eventually in the United States.

Several German automakers, including BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen, have expressed skepticism toward a European Union mandate telling the firms that their in-car air-conditioning systems must be more environmentally friendly. In particular, they are being pushed into deploying a more politically correct refrigerant known as R-1234yf, which regulators insist is perfectly safe.

Daimler, maker of Mercedes-Benz sedans, raised the alarm when the firm's own testing revealed the substance increases the risk of vehicle fires. "In the new real-life test scenario, the refrigerant is dynamically dispersed at high pressure near to hot components of the test vehicle's exhaust system," the company explained in a statement last year. "This corresponds to a serious head-on collision, in which the refrigerant line is severed and the reproducible results demonstrate that refrigerant, which is otherwise difficult to ignite under laboratory conditions can indeed prove to be flammable in a hot engine compartment."

A dramatic video of the test procedure shows the underside of a car using the new coolant bursting into flames under conditions that do not ignite the refrigerant in use today. The danger of combustible air-conditioning systems won't be limited to the Continent. Our own Environmental Protection Agency is offering automakers substantial credit toward their Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) obligations, which can save big money for companies in the midst of a weak economy, if they convert to more flammable systems.

Government loves nothing more than tossing taxpayer money onto bonfires. In 2009, the administration offered a half-billion-dollar loan to Fisker Automotive to underwrite the production of the $100,000 hybrid-electric luxury automobiles that are beloved in Hollywood. Sixteen of these politically correct vehicles happened to be waiting at Port Newark, N.J., in October when Hurricane Sandy hit. After floodwaters receded, the waterlogged Fisker Karmas burst into flame and burned to the ground. The tendency toward self-immolation was significant enough that it sparked a series of recalls last year.

Instead of worrying about imaginary future cataclysms, regulators ought to consider the real environmental and economic damage their policies create. The left's favorite trendy technologies, from squiggly light bulbs to electric cars, simply aren't ready for prime time. The government needs to extinguish its desire to meddle before more harm is done.

The Washington Times

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