Alarmist fact checking – street lights don't melt at 115°F

Tom Nelson posts this hilarious rush to connect a hot day to CO2 induced heat.

Oops: Before learning the real cause (dumpster fire), lots of alarmists rush to blame carbon dioxide for a couple of melted streetlights

UPDATE: Photo of the dumpster fire found, see below.

Twitter / Stphn_Lacey: In Oklahoma, it’s so hot the …

[retweeted by Michael Tobis] In Oklahoma, it’s so hot the streetlights are melting:

Twitter / ClimateReality(Al Gore): Hey Senator @InhofePress, even …

Hey Senator @InhofePress, even your streetlights are saying #ImTooHot

Twitter / billmckibben: Sen Inhofe, God may be trying …

Sen Inhofe, God may be trying to get your attention. Check out this picture …[Now-deleted Climate Progress post] In Oklahoma, It’s So Hot The Street Lights Are Melting

from Climate Progress by Stephen Lacey  (picture follows)

Here’s a picture from Stillwater, Oklahoma, where temperatures will reach has high as 115 degrees today. The photo comes from Patrick Hunter, who sent the picture to KFOR-TV.

Oklahoma continues to get scorched by extreme heat…

Even as residents swelter in the relentless heat, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe continued his tirade about man-made global warming during a Senate hearing yesterday, saying the science had “collapsed.”

It appears the only thing collapsing are the street lights.

Wall Photos | Facebook

Taylor-Brandy Thompson Whoever sent the pic didn’t have all the details. Plastic bulbs melted from a dumpster fire; dumpster was used for construction, although fire did start because of the heat. I saw it with my own eyes across the street from my office.


UPDATE: I wonder if it ever occurred to these guys to check to see how many streetlights melt in Phoenix (or Riyadh and Baghdad) each year where the temperature routinely reaches 115°F and as high as 122°F ? Or why only two globes melted on one side?

Climate of Phoenix:

Phoenix has a subtropical desert climate (Köppen: BWh), typical of the Sonoran Desert in which it lies. Phoenix has extremely hot summers and warm winters. The average summer high temperatures are some of the hottest of any major city in the United States, and approach those of cities such as Riyadh and Baghdad. The temperature reaches and exceeds 100°F (38°C), on average for 110 days of the year, including most days from late May through to early September. Highs top 110 °F (43 °C) an average of 18 days during the year. On June 26, 1990, the temperature reached an all-time recorded high of 122 °F (50 °C).


They are High density polyethelene HDPE

Polyethylene White Street Light Globes

Melting Point: 266°F 130°C

UPDATE3:  Senator Inhofe’s office say via email to me they will be releasing a press release shortly, responding to the criticisms. NOW ONLINE HERE

UPDATE4: here’s a photo of the dumpster fire, provided by KFOR-TV via Inhofe’s Press Office

UPDATE5: here’s the ThinkProgress web page with the original post

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August 2, 2012 12:56 pm

that’s nothing, In 1821 in Australia , thermometers exploded from the heat,

August 2, 2012 12:57 pm

These people really have zero shame.

August 2, 2012 1:01 pm

Fire started in a dumpser because of the heat?

Pamela Gray
August 2, 2012 1:09 pm

Somebody isn’t paying attention to which rags they throw in a dumpster. Any dummy knows that certain chemical soaked rags in a closed environment will catch on fire when heated up. Idiots. We lost our Forest Service building to such stupidity. Workers from across the boarder were hired to re-finish the wood siding. I am assuming their training may not have “soaked” into their brains, but the solvent sure soaked into the rags.

August 2, 2012 1:10 pm

Fire started in a dumpser because of the heat? – DBCooper
It’s not unusual at a construction site, there’s tons of flammable materials they use there like solvents, not to mention dust from wood and metal cutting. Mix all that into a dumpster on a hot day and let it cook, it just may well burst into flame.

August 2, 2012 1:10 pm

As a resident of Oklahoma, and an Okie by birth, this is nothing new. Just about every year we have water rationing. We also get pretty hot in the summer, amazingly enough.

August 2, 2012 1:12 pm

Once beliefs are handed over to the Ego, it is very reluctant to let go. And don’t confuse the Ego with the mind – totally different animal.
Loss of Face is not just a strange idea from Asian countries. Alarmists suffer from the symptoms as well.
Well, I managed to see the light (I was a paid up member of the Canadian Green party!) – so get over it Alarmists. Do some research, check out a few facts, and stop getting your news from the BBC, (most of their retirement funds are invested in the Carbon market – what does that tell you about their objectivity?), CNN, and MSNBC.

Follow the Money
August 2, 2012 1:14 pm

You have to forgive them. They have been conditioned for several years to look at everything but real thermometers since the real thermometers were disproving the IPCC science. Now they have a chance to talk about actual heat, rather than polar bears and “weird” weather, so they go all wild and carefree. Also, all the people should be sympathized as lightly mentally handicapped, and victims of the Twitter culture.

Justa Joe
August 2, 2012 1:17 pm

An alarmist will never let the facts get in the way of a good visual. It’s basically a game to them.

August 2, 2012 1:22 pm

How does global warming cause only 1 dumpster to catch on fire?

August 2, 2012 1:24 pm

“Global warming is predicted to have a profound impact on the Greenland Ice Sheet and its contribution to global sea-level rise. Recent mass loss in the northwest of Greenland has been substantial. Using aerial photographs, we produced digital elevation models and extended the time record of recent observed marginal dynamic thinning back to the mid-1980s. We reveal two independent dynamic ice loss events on the northwestern Greenland Ice Sheet margin: from 1985 to 1993 and 2005 to 2010, which were separated by limited mass changes. Our results suggest that the ice mass changes in this sector were primarily caused by short-lived dynamic ice loss events rather than changes in the surface mass balance. This finding challenges predictions about the future response of the Greenland Ice Sheet to increasing global temperatures. ”

August 2, 2012 1:25 pm

New Flash! Latest Scientific Research Reveals….ALL FIRES START DUE TO HEAT!

Follow the Money
August 2, 2012 1:27 pm

“An alarmist will never let the facts get in the way of a good visual.”
Any visual will do because the thermometers aren’t giving them what they want. The PR folks know these peeps very well. Between the visuals and highlighting the American right-wing windbags who use the occasions to call for the dismantling of all pollution enforcement, it is pretty easy to keeps these drones on the plantation.

August 2, 2012 1:38 pm

Tommy Tommy Tommy…. the ONE dumpster caught on fire because you don’t understand the difference between weather and climate!

Chris B
August 2, 2012 1:40 pm

You’d think that anyone looking at the picture would wonder why only two spheres melted, and only on one side. Common sense eludes alarmists.

Steve Fletcher
August 2, 2012 1:42 pm

Metal Halide street lights, which these probably are, operate around 250-300F. Even if they are incandescent…..does anyone remember the easy bake oven?

August 2, 2012 1:43 pm

On their website they mention “Mandatory Water rationing”, I did not read further (thereby avoid nausea) but I will bet it is more along the lines of outside landscape irrigation (watering) restrictions.
There IS a difference … but perhaps not to the alarmist group-think crowd looking for doom under every (c)rock …
“Watering Restrictions” – watering limited to twice a week –
BUT it’s because we have an infestation of Zebra Muscles that preclude the use of certain reservoirs to avoid their spread to other reservoirs …

Gunga Din
August 2, 2012 1:45 pm

Obviously the CO2 given off by the dumpster fire coalesced between the sun and the streetlights thus acting like a magnifying glass.
I guess Ma Gaia thinks of streetlights the way little boys think of ants.

Jeff D.
August 2, 2012 1:47 pm

Also being an Okie I know that the La Nina / El Nino events tend to push our weather patterns. Since we have been moving into an El Nino is there a guess to the lag when the current phase will have effect on the area?
BTW Stillwater is home of OSU, nuff said 🙂

Gunga Din
August 2, 2012 1:47 pm

Tommy says:
August 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm
How does global warming cause only 1 dumpster to catch on fire?
Maybe it was the only dumpster in town that wasn’t painted green?

August 2, 2012 1:53 pm

I wonder if Michael Tobis ran this story through the “Planet3.0 Scientific Review Panel” before he retweeted this misinformation 😛

Ally E.
August 2, 2012 1:59 pm

Is this going to start a trend of dumpster fires?

August 2, 2012 2:00 pm

Pamela Gray at 1:09 pm Hey would the building you are talking about have been the taj mahal outside of Enterprise ? Typical government structure built to obscene standards with grandioso architecture . Hey all they need is office buildings but they have to be lavish instead . While I regret the waste of taxpayer money , I don’t really miss that building.

a dood
August 2, 2012 2:12 pm

Alarmists are grasping at straws. They are just so desperate for CAGW to be true!

Anthony Scalzi
August 2, 2012 2:20 pm

If the dumpster fire happened because of the heat, why did it happen at night?

August 2, 2012 2:22 pm

Daniel says:
August 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm
If the melting of Greenlands glaciers is as substantial as you claim, we should be able to see it in rising sea levels.
Hmm, sea levels aren’t rising.

August 2, 2012 2:27 pm

Dang, the alarmists nearly had their miracle.

August 2, 2012 2:27 pm

Well, if that’s “proof” of global warming in their books, I assume that Houston’s cooler and wetter than usual July is “proof” of global cooling.

August 2, 2012 2:35 pm

Clearly, that dumpster fire created a lot of CO2, which caused the Earth to heat up and melt those lights. A child could understand it.

lurker passing through, laughing
August 2, 2012 2:37 pm

Climate extremists are always good for a laugh. Think about it: when have their claims been any better?
The climate consensus is one long very expensive joke.

Dave Dodd
August 2, 2012 2:43 pm

Oh, come on! Next thing you know, they’ll be claiming humans spontaneously combust due to climate change/AGW! Cows, maybe! Humans, not so much!

Gunga Din
August 2, 2012 2:46 pm

Anthony Scalzi says:
August 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm
If the dumpster fire happened because of the heat, why did it happen at night?
“The missing heat” only comes out at night?
(Maybe that’s why nobody can find it!)

Reg Nelson
August 2, 2012 2:54 pm

Anthony Scalzi says:
August 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm
If the dumpster fire happened because of the heat, why did it happen at night?
That’ll be sorted out with theTOB adjustment.

August 2, 2012 3:01 pm

I don’t know who Tom Nelson is, but that site has some pretty damn clever and witty comments. I get a chuckle at least once a day from his site.

Bill Parsons
August 2, 2012 3:06 pm

One word: Plastic
… which explains a good deal about the warping of space / time…

Brian Johnson uk
August 2, 2012 3:10 pm

“BUT it’s because we have an infestation of Zebra Muscles ”
Poor Zebras, missing their mussels!

August 2, 2012 3:10 pm

_Jim says:
August 2, 2012 at 1:43 pm
BUT it’s because we have an infestation of Zebra Muscles that preclude the use of certain reservoirs to avoid their spread to other reservoirs …

Biting lip ☺

August 2, 2012 3:12 pm

From TFA (The Fine Article):

Even as residents swelter in the relentless heat, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe continued his tirade about man-made global warming during a Senate hearing yesterday, saying the science had “collapsed.”
It appears the only thing collapsing are the street lights.

OK, what was Inhofe’s tirade?

I ask unanimous consent to include his entire statement in the Record because he goes over point after point and discredits everything that was said by this witness–whose name is Christopher Field–this morning.

Oh dear. Did Field lie? Did he perjure himself? Could he be in trouble? Probably not.
On the other hand, nobody objected to Pielke’s statement being read into the record. Some of us were worried about the senate hearing being one sided. No worries. Even the Democrats aren’t buying the MBE (Male Bovine Excrement) any more.

charles nelson
August 2, 2012 3:20 pm

Hey if it’s ‘Global’ Warming how come it only melted ‘one side’ of the streetlight?

Jesse G.
August 2, 2012 3:21 pm

A friend in Kentucky USA nearly lost his home to spontaneous combustion of rags from the staining and cleanup of a do-it-yourself floor refinishing job. If not for his dog going crazy, my friend would have lost his life, too. Contractors need to be more aware of what is dangerous in their line of work. OFF-TOPIC: NC lawmakers are catching a lot of heat for passing a law which ignores the sea level rise report by ???? (I forget). I assume the letter writing is being done by the environmental groups.

Gunga Din
August 2, 2012 3:25 pm

Patrick says:
August 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm
Well, if that’s “proof” of global warming in their books, I assume that Houston’s cooler and wetter than usual July is “proof” of global cooling.
Nah. That’s proof of “Climate Change”.
(Or is it “Climate Weirding” now? So hard to keep up. But it is comforting to know that no matter what it is, the solution to it never seems to change.)

Darren Potter
August 2, 2012 3:26 pm

Photog: “I’d say that this was due to a fire semi-close by coupled with the unbelievable heat we are experiencing.”
Coupled? Really, come on dude!
Heat of the day at 114F vs. Heat of the nearby dumpster fire at 1,800 to 2,200F; a ratio of 17.5 to 1.
But your own picture is the clue to the actual cause. Only the globes closest to fire are melted and only those sides facing the fire.
Is there any “Face Palm” even remotely appropriate enough for this AGW Alarmism?

Berényi Péter
August 2, 2012 3:36 pm

UPDATE: After we published this piece, we saw reports from people on the ground in Stillwater that the melting streetlights were due to a nearby fire. The person who took the photo, Patrick Hunter, described the scene: “Being the person that actually took this photo, I’d say that this was due to a fire semi-close by coupled with the unbelievable heat we are experiencing. Still an amazing photo and not fake as many are saying on here. Enjoy!”
So, even the guy who took the photo admits it was due to fire. But wait, fire alone could not melt stuff, now could it? However, “coupled with the unbelievable heat we are experiencing” it can do just about anything, of course. To hell with analytic reasoning, Holism rulez. Connect the dots!

August 2, 2012 3:40 pm

The fire started due to the heat… AT NIGHT ??? Do I detect long noses about?
I live in OKC and today, August 2nd, my background thermometer that tracks NOAA’s hourly averages pretty perfectly (but not the higher six hour maximums, they are mostly one or two degrees higher, even on their own reports) peaked at 108.1F and I’m really curious what their report says about today. They were predicting 113F at noon and an hour later dropped it to 111F, mine never got close, though it did match the one-day high of 111F last year, 111.1F.
Oh, the NOAA heat games. Wiley Post Airport’s (KPWA) tarmac must really be cooking this afternoon.
You might gather it from this snipped of NOAA’s KPWA report if the formatting is not too bad:

02   16:53   111 F
02   15:53   110
02   14:53   110
02   13:53   107
02   12:53   104   106 (high of the last six hours, see the +2 ??)
02   11:53   103
02   10:53    99
02   09:53   96
02   08:53   91
02   07:53   86
02   06:53   85   94 (high of the last six hours)
August 2, 2012 3:51 pm

clipe says August 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Biting lip ☺

Google Chrome spell check was complicit; until contextual spell check becomes a reality that lip is going to become mighty sore …

August 2, 2012 3:51 pm

Stupid deniers. You just don’t understand.
Yes, dumpster fires have occurred since long before industrialization increased atmospheric CO2. But this dumpster fire is consistent with climate models that show the dangers of global warming, including an increase in dumpster temeratures leading to more frequent dumpster fires as global warming continues to accelerate. It is like loading the dice, and that is what we are seeing in the tragic Great Oklahoma Dumpster Fire of 2012. This is what Global Warming looks like.
And please stop complaining about official temperature recording stations being located next to flaming dumpsters. We adjust for that, really we do.

Dave Bob
August 2, 2012 4:03 pm

“coupled with the unbelievable heat we are experiencing”
Coupled with Henry Aaron, I hit 755 home runs.

Gail Combs
August 2, 2012 4:12 pm

Gee can’t they at least check the facts?
Polymethylpentene PMP is used for outdoor lamp covers.
Softening point is 160°C and melting point 240 °C link Other plastics are about 100°C and up for softening points. The low softening point plastics would never be considered for the application.
Think styrofoam cups and boiling tea water. Though that is pushing it for styrofoam. Large cell foam to have a softening point in the neighborhood of 80ºC and microcellular foam to have a softening point closer to 105ºC.

August 2, 2012 4:30 pm

‘Coupled with Henry Aaron,’
….NOT a good image.
(sorry, could not resist)

Rich Lambert
August 2, 2012 4:46 pm

Less than 18 months ago the area just north of the Stillwater area experience a record low of -13 degrees F.

August 2, 2012 4:55 pm

“If the dumpster fire happened because of the heat, why did it happen at night?”
My point exactly. Spontaneous combustion needs no external heat source. But blaming it on global warming is so much more fun than old, dry scientific facts.

David Larsen
August 2, 2012 5:00 pm

When I first saw the lead on this I thought – What a load of crap. I used to die-cast aluminum housings for mercury vapor lights when they first came out in the 1970’s. Aluminum is molten at 12-1400 degrees F. Did not know they were plastic. Any idea on fluid temperature for plastic?

Pamela Gray
August 2, 2012 5:37 pm

John McGuire, it is indeed that building. It was a structure built by a company in California and then leased to the various government agencies who used it. It is not being rebuilt as far as I know. The agencies have spread out into other spaces in buildings in Enterprise and Joseph. The issue of the rags is still under investigation as to safety violations and insurance. I am guessing that the county will be looking at writing a grant for another space. Not that we are packed with buildings all full up with people crowding the streets wanting to buy our wares and services. If schools have to pack their students into portables behind the main school building, why do other government agencies get the newest award winning digs the minute they run out of room for an extra coffee cup?

August 2, 2012 5:47 pm

What happened to the days when Nature’s fury was something to overcome.
She will not relent, She drives all before Her.

August 2, 2012 5:51 pm

@ think-progress “Correction: The lamp was standing pretty close to a recent fire, so it’s likely they didn’t melt from the heat.”
“Warmist” will inevitably implant the sense of the possible regardless of the actual facts …. “likely” …..what ? “likely” there was an actual fire DUH !

Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2012 6:16 pm

I wonder what these folks thought when there were fires in flooded New Orleans after that Hurricane Katrina-induced drought (lol) brought in all that dry air.

Patrick Davis
August 2, 2012 6:32 pm

Ok, so one melted street light and tree ring proxy data from one tree (YAD061) = proof of global warming? Their data is so robust.

August 2, 2012 7:10 pm

It seems like the warm-earthers have almost zero scientific acumen in the basic sciences. Whether dealing with physics, chemistry, or statistics—the foundations of applied sciences—these people appear to have no requisite training or understanding. The puzzling fact is that much of the needed basic sciences for climate science was offered in high school or earlier.

Michael Jankowski
August 2, 2012 7:49 pm

I’ll bet those lamps heat up beyond 115 deg F after the bulbs are on for a few minutes.

August 2, 2012 9:13 pm

Lesson for the warmists: fire is hot.

August 2, 2012 10:32 pm

I haven’t known ThinkProgress ’til now, but reading the stupid commentators at their site, using tons of F words even in their nicknames made me wonder how they’ve chosen ‘ThinkProgress’ for their blog name.
Just in time, I found the back button of my browser to return to WUWT before I crack up with laughter about all those eggheads.
Phewww… there’s so much more intelligence over here.

Steve C
August 2, 2012 11:52 pm

O ye sceptical persons. Of course this is global warming. What shape d’you think those streetlights were before they melted? 😉

August 3, 2012 12:04 am


Brian H
August 3, 2012 3:18 am

The utter lack of ability and willingness by warmists to apply Plausibility Tests to claims and assertions is a never ending source of astonishment. It’s also an immense asset to those of us combatting their Global Putsch.

August 3, 2012 6:36 am

So, ThinkProgress just passed the exam to be mentioned under ‘Unreliable’ at the WUWT Blogroll

August 3, 2012 8:56 am

Clearly the problem is the dumpsters themselves. The best way to prevent CO2 based dumpster fires is through increased government regulation. They should be licensed, inspected monthly, have CO2 detectors and an NFPA compliant fire protection system which should be tested by a governing authority annually.
Has any one charted this unprecedented increase in dumpster fires?

David Larsen
August 3, 2012 9:16 am

Thanks Anthony.

August 3, 2012 11:02 am

Anthony Scalzi says:
August 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm
If the dumpster fire happened because of the heat, why did it happen at night?
It wasn’t night, the fire was very bright due to all the global warming; the necessarily very short exposure time made it *look* like night in the same way as the pictures of the atomic blasts are dark all around. Don’t you know anything?
There have never been dumpster fires until the last 10 years, when global warming has reached its peak. In fact, before 1995, nothing ever burned. Ever.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
August 3, 2012 12:45 pm

Greetings to fellow Okies posting on WUWT! As a former resident of Broken Arrow, OK, I can attest to the BLAZING HEAT every summer!! However, I’m now safely ensconced in my hometown Chicago, where we have had ….a record hot summer & ongoing drought. Heat not up to OK standards though. You have to live through it to understand it.
Damn that carbon dioxide! It keeps following me around! When our streetlights melt, I’ll post pictures.

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