Monday, April 23, 2007

Lightbulbs, McGuinty and the Nanny State

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, Red Tory's got hisself a good boog story all about Ginty's idea to make compact fluorescent lightbulbs mandatory like they do in Australia an' some other places. Red's bringin' up the bit where the anti-Earthers are bitchin' that Ginty's makin' Ontariariario more of a nanny state an' they want the right to use whatever dang lightbulbs they please.

I ain't a bigass proponent of the nanny state but we got all sortsa rules an' regulations an' if we wanna save ol' Mother Earth, we're gonna need to get a little bit tuff. We got things like speed limits on the highway, laws that say you can't dump garbage anywhere you please, laws that say I gotta pick up dog shit behind ol' Spot, laws that say I gotta pay taxes so's Steve Harper can hire a primper, laws that say cars gotta meet certain standards and a blujillion other laws.

Laws are mostly there to protect society in general from anti-social elements, like wanton polluters an' mass murderers. Without some rules an' regulations, we wouldn't have a society like we do. We'd be livin' in Mad Max world.

Nannies are there to protect dumbass kids from hurtin' themselves an' to make sure they get the necessities of life an' maybe a stroller ride in the park. Some fellers an' gals probbly figger they're responsible enough an' don't need Ginty tellin' 'em what to screw in their sockets. Troublem is, from what some of 'em are sayin', it seems they are too stoopid fer their own good an' are talkin' down the CFB's themselves along with the nanny. "Aw, Mom! I don't need a babysitter anymore." Anybuddy who's had kids, knows that line an' knows it usually means that they DO need a babysitter.

This whole thing reminds me of when we switched to unleaded gasoline. Yeow! The selfsame sorta hew an' cry went up. Lo an' behold, 20 years later, we're doin' fine as far as the no-lead aspect of gasoline is concerned. How many are grumblin' about the nanny state takin' poison lead outta the gas every time they fill up the chugmobile?

Some of the drawbacks to CFB's Red Tory was on about were relevent with early CFB's but have been largely overcome. The dimmer issue is one such problem. CFB's are available that do work properly with dimmers an' 3-way switches. These bulbs, admittedly so far, are more expensive an' more difficult to find.

A commenter over t' Red's site brought up the fluorescent flickerin' causes migraines issue, this is something I don't see in the CFB's. I'm sensitive to flickerin' but it don't gimme migraines an' I ain't seen any scientific studies but... the flicker that we all seen in them commonly used 4-foot fluorescent tubes ain't happenin' with the CFB's. Leastwise, not so's it's apparent to my eye.

As far as the colour spectrum of the light itself, there were originally only "cool white" CF bulbs available. Now, the light comin' from the warmer version is pretty much identical to the spectrum emitted from conventional bulbs.

Like the anti-Earthers complain, CFB's take a little time to reach full brightness. So does my LCD monitor. So what? From my experience, I'd estimate they reach 70% brightness within 2 seconds and, except in cold outdoor conditions, they reach full brightness within a minute. Not much of a drawback considerin' they use less than one quarter the energy of regular bulbs.

Red talked about the fact that up-front costs are high with the CFB's. It's true but they last anywhere's from 5 to 7 years an' they pay fer themselves, on average, within the first year with reduced energy costs. Economy of scale will play an important part in reducing the up-front costs. When CFB's account for the bulk of lightbulb use, manufacturing and distribution will become more efficient.

Red brought up the mercury issue, it is true that CFB's do contain mercury and should be disposed of properly -- just like old paint, fuel, thinners, industrial chemicals, medical waste, batteries and a plethora of other commonly used items. We do it for those other things and we can do it for CFB's. It ain't like CFB's is spent nuclear fuel rods.

Still on the mercury issue, the increased energy demand of incandescants requires electrical generators to provide electricity that they would not need to produce if CFB's were used. Coal-burning generators emit mercury from their smokestacks. Trace amounts, just like what's in the CFB's. The difference is that while the coal-burning generators spew the mercury into the air, CFB's contain the contaminant and can be disposed of without releasing it into the air.

I ain't a hunnert percent sure that legislation is the way to go. I ain't fightin' it on accounta I believe that switchin' over to CFB's is gonna save electricity an' help save ol' Mother Earth. I reckon the gummint could probbly be just as effective if it'd lead by example.

My idea would be for the Ontario gummint to embark on a program to immediately replace its own incandescant bulbs with CFB's in each and every gummint building. I'm talkin' Queen's Park, every driver's license outlet, every courthouse, every maintenance garage, storage facility and every school and university in the province.

When they're doin' that, they should mount a bigass PR campaign explainin' how much energy their savin' an' how, even in the medium term, they're gonna save the taxpayer megatonnes of money. Ontariariarians ain't stoopid. If we see our gummint savin' money an' doin' the right thing at the same time, we'll mostly wanna get in on the benefits.


(P.S. Most o' this here boog story was originally posted as a comment over t' Red Tory's fine boog.)

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