Thursday, September 30, 2010

The uncomprehending darkness

I find myself agreeing very much with this:

So, are you ready to comply with the federal government’s ban on incandescent light bulbs? Me neither.

Starting in January 2012, a little over a year from now, the phase-out begins. Simple, inexpensive lighting will become a time-capsule item. Compact-fluorescent lights, or CFLs -- the bulbs that look like a twisted ice-cream cone (and won’t fit in many light fixtures where space is tight) -- will become the new norm.

Anyone who has priced CFLs knows they’re not cheap. Supposedly they’re worth the extra money because they’ll last longer. That’s cold comfort, though, given the dull, unnatural glow that these bulbs throw off.[...]

So why are we making the switch? It was mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. The theory, of course, is that we’ll consume less energy. It’s all part of the green agenda. The same agenda that the president insists will produce scads of high-paying, earth-friendly “green jobs.” Tell that to the 200 workers in Winchester, Va., who are losing their jobs as General Electric closes its incandescent-bulb factory there. Or to the Americans who work in other plants that have been shuttered.

Yes, some jobs will be created, thanks to the ban. Unfortunately, those jobs won’t be here in the U.S. -- they’ll be in China, where CFLs can be made cheaper. [...]

Perhaps what President Obama means by “green jobs” is that we’ll be moving lots of American greenbacks overseas to create jobs elsewhere. But at least we’ll be saving energy, right? Not according to a recent study sponsored by Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. It found that energy use under newer “efficient” lighting will actually go up rather than down.

Read the rest here, especially if, like me, you are prone to migraine headaches and find the whole thought of having to move to CFLs depressing beyond belief.

I've written about this before, but if anything shows just how far from the original notion of certain sane limits on federal power we've come in our day, it's the very idea that it is the job of Congress to regulate and ban the sale and purchase of the incandescent light bulb, a product that has been symbolic of American ingenuity and invention since Thomas Edison's first successful bulb dispelled the darkness with its illuminating fire. The question as to whether incandescents themselves could be made a bit more energy-efficient was apparently not even asked; the decision to ban them in favor of foreign-made, potentially hazardous mercury-containing bulbs was offered up on the Green Altar to appease the angry deities of environmentalism, with our unenlightened Congressmen and women bowing down in mock-worship of whatever they think will get them elected this time around, in a hypocritical liturgical prostration fitting for a godless age.

The truth is that it doesn't even matter to our Congresspeople if CFLs end up being less energy efficient (as they likely will), once they are made in China and shipped to the U.S. and disposed of improperly so that their mercury leaches out into the environment, or disposed of properly on pain of fines and at great public expense. It only matters that our dull public servants expect to gull the public into thinking that they have Done Something about the Climate Change that we used to call Global Warming that they take for granted Humans are Causing--but not huge wasteful corporations, of course, or dim public servants jetting all over the world on "fact-finding" tours; just small homes where ordinary families bring about Global Catastrophe by insisting on lighting the way for their unfortunate planet-wasting progeny by use of Mr. Edison's clever gizmo.

And so it becomes imperative to take the incandescent light bulb away from the populace, who has been measured and found wanting in the Green scales--because if they truly understood their proper place in the environment, the populace would quit breeding, and leave the planet for the two to three billion (or fewer) elect who in virtue of their superior meekness deem themselves worthy of inheriting the earth.

Of course, when you think that human beings are a plague on the planet who ought to be encouraged to stop breeding, it's pretty stupid to replace good light bulbs with poor ones--because the natural tendency of lots of people is going to be to turn the lights off earlier at night and go to bed earlier and...eventually have enough children to grow up and become voters and to change, dramatically, the course of this nation back toward something resembling common sense.

But then, the darkness never has comprehended the light. The darkness doesn't even comprehend the dark.


Ellyn said...

I've read that Europeans are already hoarding incandescent bulbs - I'm considering that myself. I really wanted to like the CFLs but the light is so strange - either sickly yellowish or a strange brightness that made turning on the hall light for a midnight bathroom visit like being on stage. And since I've never made it a practice to read the packaging on light bulbs, I only recently found out that they should not be tossed in the garbage and I should schlep dead bulbs back to WalMart. Right.

scotch meg said...

Oh yeah, and don't forget that those CFL's contain mercury, a neurotoxin. Which will be released in your home if a bulb breaks. Or into your water supply...

OOPS, I forgot. The government will be providing the drugs that take the "bounce" out of your sons, so they won't accidentally hit the light bulb while fencing. And they will be inspecting all your trash so that no one inadvertently brings a CFL to the dump.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

This does seem like a rather unnecessary law, given that in a few more years, the mercury-tainted CFL bulbs will be replaced by LED bulbs that can be engineered for any color we want (including the soft orange glow of the traditional bulb), using less than 5% of the electricity, and lasting 20 years, with the high price tag galling as economies of scale kick in.

I'd rather see the government sponsor the accelerated research, then let us buy it when it makes sense.

Liz said...

So now is the time for all smart women to start buying incandescent bulbs in quantity???

eulogos said...

I broke one of those twisty bulbs the other day. It broke into about a hundred tiny pieces. I swept them up, being careful not to touch any and then swept again, and put them in a wastebasket, from which I will put them out for the garbage. I am supposed to keep the pieces around and carry them around in a car, and then carry them into Walmart and wait in line at the customer service counter and present them to the woman there-Here, I brought you something.... If they have mercury they have mercury. We used to break thermometers and have fun rolling the little ball of mercury around on our hands when I was a kid. Somehow I have still lived until the age of 60.

What I don't like about the damn things is the hesitation when you first turn them on. When I flip that switch, let there be light-instantly! Every time my brain goes through, Oh no, the bulb's burned out, in the several seconds before the light goes on.

Also they don't make heat. And I use the heat from light bulbs for raising chicks. The big heat lamp bulbs make too much heat for some types of brooders at all, and for others after the first couple of weeks. A 100 watt light bulb is just right. I keep meaning to hoard them and buying a couple of packages...and then I wind up using them.

But what, am I supposed to store a thousand packages of light bulbs? How many to last me for the rest of my life? Or is it just until some more sensible Republicans get back into power? Who is running on the light bulb ticket?

Susan Peterson

Anonymous said...

They don't make heat?!? What about all our Easy Bake Ovens?!?

OK, now I'm pissed....

Appalachian Prof said...

Can't we do something? And by "we", I mean somebody else. I'm not very good at starting movements, but it seems that the incandescent light bulb is worth saving.

There's a Facebook page: "Save the incandescent Light Bulb."!/group.php?gid=8854696690&v=info&ref=search

Maybe we should join it.

LarryD said...

There is a bill in Congress to repeal the law - which, incidentally, doesn't outright ban the incandescent bulb - it only sets efficiency standards that the incandescent bulbs are unable to reach, or force the industry to invest way too much capital in order to reach those standards. To-ma-to, to-mah-to.

Still - I'll be hoarding the incandescent bulbs, and like Siarlys, wait patiently for the LEDs.

MightyMighty said...

One small thing you can do to make the new bulbs less garish is to use warm-colored lamp shades. I don't like the lights in our overheads, and there isn't much I can do about it, but with our living room lamps the yellow shades help A LOT.

I am going to stock up on the bulbs and keep one lit in my front window, as a tribute to American freedom.

Amy R said...

Great phrase: the darkness doesn't even comprehend the dark.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I too am waiting for some sensible Republicans. I know there must be some, besides my mother I mean, but none of them are running for office. That leaves me voting for Democrats until something better comes along. I prefer neurotic to psychotic, which is what most of the choices come down to this year. I will enthusiastically vote to re-elect Senator Feingold, even though I disagree with his rather irrelevant comments on gay marriage. I know of a libertarian in Mississippi who would vote for him for president, even though the man in Mississippi has pro-life views which trump his libertarian principles.