You know, complained comedian Bill Maher, I hear numbers from this administration like 2018. We will reduce mercury emissions in the air by 70 percent by 2018.
This wasnt sufficient action for Maher, who demanded of President Bush: Fix it now, not 2018! Even if it does, even if it does, sin of all American sins, impose a cost on business. That was just a sample of a program previewed on the November 18 Good Morning America, where ABC reporter Bill Weir predicted most of the performances [would] try to stay nonpartisan.
Later, Seinfeld co-creator Larry David angrily joked about how he cant eat tuna, his favorite fish, for lunch anymore, because its just not safe to eat it anymore.
It was great for an applause line, but does quite comport with reality.
Mahers and Davids complaints assumed that mercury pollution from U.S. power plants is so bad that action must be taken immediately, and that the cost of business, while perhaps not insignificant, is not great enough to outweigh the benefits.
But the Cato Institutes Pat Michaels estimated that the United States contributes only 3.6 percent of the worlds mercury output, compared to 25 percent of the worlds economic output. Michaels also found no major mercury poisoning on record caused outside of an industrial spill that occurred in 1930s Japan.
Noting that one concern over mercury levels has been the potential impact on the IQ levels of infants, researchers Ted Gayer and Robert Hahn from the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution, respectively, concluded that shutting down all domestic coal-fired power plants would hardly reduce overall mercury output. Meanwhile, granting a link between mercury levels and infant brain development, the IQ points of newborns could go up by about .01 points.
Gayer and Hahn  found that under proposed regulations, the U.S. government was likely to spend billions of dollars on reducing mercury emissions from power plants and getting very modest, if any, improvements in IQ scores in return. In this case, they found the benefits likely to total around $100 million while costing $4 billion to implement.
In addition to the mercury alarm bells, here are some other examples of alarmism cloaked in laugh lines from Earth to America:
A musical medley opening the program, featuring a parody of Heat Wave with such lyrics as Whenever I step outside/Even in December/I wonder why its so damn hot/And then I remember/Yes I do/Its all the crap we put in the air/Its what we put in our cars/And what I put in my hair
Cedric the Entertainer comparing the Earth to a big bag of microwave popcorn, saying, were eventually gonna start popping.
Country star Faith Hill singing to the tune of Jingle Bells: Watching glaciers melt/In my big Humvee/I guess I should have known/The strength of one degree/As the oceans rise/And shores begin to flood/Well be spending all our time/Digging out of mud.