Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Bad science, crap copy

What is it about the Green / Climate Change / We're all Doomed issue that makes it ok to tout silly claims that don't stand up?

My gander was goosed today by an advert on the side of a bus. It's pushing the benefits of low-energy light bulbs
and seeks to make its point with the statement:

If every UK household installed just one extra energy saving light bulb in their house, the CO2 saved would be equivalent to taking 93,000 cars off the UK's roads.

OK. Where to begin. What's worse, the rubbish copywriting, or the dodgy science? Well, how about we start with the copy.

If every UK household really did install one extra energy saving light bulb, that would have the effect of putting around 24.5 million additional bulbs into use. I guess they really mean that it would be a good thing if every UK household replaced an existing bulb with an energy saving one, but that's not what they've written!

And the claim itself?

Well, it all depends, doesn't it..... Those 93,000 cars. Would they be ones with little engines or the Gas Guzzlers they keep encouraging us to hate? What if they are small-engined cars that spend all day, every day, doing stop/start journeys, not fully warmed up? Or perhaps they are the modern Gas Guzzlers with some of the cleanest engines around, running efficiently in the motorway cruise for 200 miles at a time? Maybe they are the old cars that the Government wants us to scrap. You know, the ones made before manufacturers focused on the recylclability of materials used in construction? The ones that'll be really dirty to dispose of?

And talking of dirty disposal, what about this:

If every household in the UK threw out one dead low-energy light bulb, there'd be 980kg of mercury in various landfills.

I don't make any great claims for accuracy in this statement, but I suggest that it holds up at least as well as the one on the side of the bus! There is, after all, about 4mg of Mercury in your average low-energy (compact fluorescent) light bulb.

Bad science and Environmental concern. They don't have to go hand-in-hand....do they?

1 comment:

Matthew Rudd said...

The best way to avoid rubbish bus ads is to ride on buses. Do you know anyone who drives one?