Iain - Thanks for noting the triumph of unreason in the EU, where they're banning barometers because of the presence of that ole devil, mercury. Mercury, like its unfortunate metallic brother lead, has been transformed from an element with certain known properties and potential risks into an anthropomorphically evil monster that must be banished from anywhere "progressive"-thinking people congregate. Think of the children! Which leads us into an interesting conflict. Environmentalists are clamoring for U.S. consumers to buy more compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) because they last longer and use less electricity. They're so in love with CFL technology, they've actually proposed (in California, of course) banning the sale of traditional incandescent lightbulbs. Get thee behind me, Thomas Edison.
Compact fluorescents: devil or angel?
The only problem here is that a key ingredient of CFL manufacture is...wait for it...mercury. And it's not just our friends Glenn Reynolds and Steve Milloy who are writing about this particular inconvenient truth. The arbiters of environmental correctness at NPR have taken note of the unfashionable presence of mercury - wait, make that "toxic mercury." As opposed to creamy, delicious mercury, I suppose.