Big Mistake: Hiring "Greenpeace Co-Founder" Patrick Moore To Peddle Vinyl Windows


Doors and Windows PVC (CNW Group/Canadian Plastics Industry Association)

They look so cute on their polyurethane sofa, in front of the wall of vinyl windows and doors, in the stock shot from the Canadian vinyl industry. The Vinyl salesmen are also promoting Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, who has been a serial shill for the nuclear industry ("there is no proof global warming is caused by humans, but it is likely enough that the world should turn to nuclear power"), loggers of the Amazon rainforest ("All these save-the-forests arguments are based on bad science...") the lumber industry ("clear-cutting is good for forests"), pharmaceuticals in water (it's "inevitable that a small amount of ingested pharmaceuticals will eventually show up at trace levels in wastewater"). it got so bad that Greenpeace has a statement on its website complaining that Moore, kicked out of Greenpeace 25 years ago, noting that he " exploits long-gone ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and pro-corporate spokesperson, usually taking positions that Greenpeace opposes."

And now he is peddling vinyl windows.
Watch video on Youtube here

Many years ago on the Dick Cavett Show, Author Mary McCarthy famously said of Lillian Hellman: "Every word she ever wrote is a lie, including "and" and "The." I think you could say that about Moore. I could not embed this video, so I transcribe it:

The anti-vinyl activists have made a lot of crazy allegations about the effects of vinyl. For example they say that chewable baby toys are going to cause health problems in infants. This has been completely rejected by the European Commission, [see note 1] and even the Green Building Council of the United States, which is an activist based group in many ways, has rejected the criticisms against vinyl. [2] They say that the reasons shower curtains smell the way they do is because the chemicals coming from the vinyl and this is going to give you cancer. This is absolutely false. [3]

1. Phthalates and vinyl toys were banned in Europe in 2005 and George Bush banned them in the States in 2008.

2. The Green Building Council has introduced a pilot credit to give points for the elimination of vinyl and PVC. The Healthy Building Network explains the issues with Phthalates, the plasticizer used to make PVC building products:

They are widely used in polyvinylchloride (known as PVC or vinyl) building materials such as flooring, wall covering, upholstery, and shower curtains. They are not bound to the plastic and are easily released to the indoor environment. Phthalates are a suspected endocrine disrupting chemical and have been linked to an increasing number of reproductive health impacts at low dose exposures, and exposure to building materials containing phthalates has been correlated with asthma and related allergy impacts.

3. The Canadian Cancer Society on Phthalates:

The Canadian Cancer Society is concerned there may be a possible increased risk of cancer related to exposure to some phthalates. We are concerned about the long-term health effects where exposure to high levels may occur.....The Canadian Cancer Society is most concerned about phthalates in certain medical supplies when they are used for children, and in children's toys and supplies.

The press release from the Canadian Plastics Industry Association makes chlorine sound so benign, a simple byproduct of salt, and good for you and your health:

Vinyl is largely derived from salt via chlorine, an abundant and inexpensive resource. While some, such as Greenpeace, denounce chlorine, Dr. Moore, a founder of the group who later left in part due to his science-based understanding of the benefits of chlorine says, "Chlorine is the most important element in the periodic table for public health and medicine. It purifies our drinking water and contributes to many of our prescription medicines, thereby preventing the spread of disease."


German gas attack, image credit Wikipedia

They do not mention that it also was used as poison gas by the Germans in World War 1, killing and maiming thousands, or in the Iraq war. Nor do they mention how dangerous its production is. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency:

Vinyl chloride emissions from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ethylene dichloride (EDC), and vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) plants cause or contribute to air pollution that may reasonably be anticipated to result in an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness. Vinyl chloride is a known human carcinogen that causes a rare cancer of the liver."

The Canadian Plastics Industry press release continues quoting Moore:

Recent life-cycle studies show the health and environmental impacts of vinyl building products are comparable to or less than the impacts of other competing products,"[1] says Dr. Moore, who advises organizations on sustainability. "PVC/vinyl windows are so durable and long-lasting that the vast majority of them installed over the past two decades are still in use and therefore not yet eligible for end-of-life or post-consumer recycling.[2] However, when PVC windows/doors come out of service - like all polyvinyl chloride products - they can be recycled. [3] Vinyl windows perform favourably in terms of energy efficiency, thermal-insulating value and have low contribution to greenhouse gases. Since PVC/vinyl windows and doors are lighter in weight, transportation costs are also lower.

1. Environmental Building News writes:

We evaluated all the framing material used in windows and advised to avoid 100% vinyl window frames because of their durability problems. Vinyl windows have only been on the market in the US for 15 or 20 years. Many of these products won't even last a decade.

2. Vinyl windows can sag and deteriorate. Donovan Rybkema says they are called replacement windows for a reason: "Every fifteen years you have to replace them." The US Department of Energy says:

Ultraviolet (UV) light can fade colors other than white and cause yellowing and "crazing" in the plastic's surface. Vinyl frames are also not very rigid. Vinyl windows with large openings usually require an internal metal extrusion to make the frame stiffer. This can lower the frame's R-value significantly. Vinyl window frames can also soften, warp, and twist if heat builds up within the frame. In very hot sunny climates direct exposure to sunlight is not recommended.

3. BuildingGreen writes:

At the end of their useful life, products made of PVC pose additional problems. Recycling post-consumer PVC products is difficult because of the wide range of additives and formulations that go into them.


Doors and Windows PVC (CNW Group/Canadian Plastics Industry Association)

The issue of vinyl and PVC in building materials is complex; John Laumer and I have gone back and forth about it for years. Vinyl windows are cheap (that's why people overdo it so much, they are cheaper than walls) and can significantly cut heat loss if one doesn't overdo it like this.

But the Plastics industry does itself no favours by promoting Patrick Moore as a shill and linking to five year old videos, he is just not believable and so much has changed since then.

More on the vinyl window debate:
Look Out Any Window
A Year Ago in TreeHugger: A Defence of Vinyl
Vinyl Windows: John was Right and I was Wrong. I Think.
The Pluses and Minuses of Vinyl

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Tags: Greenpeace | Vinyl