The Force Phasing Out of the Traditional Lightbulb

When compact fluorescent bulbs first came out we were promised, first that the price would go down, that they would last much longer than traditional bulbs.I have found neither to be true. At least here in Spain, a decent compact fluorescent bulb is normally a minimum of about six euros (some even sell for €20), and the price is not going down. As to the vaunted lifespan of compact fluorescent bulbs, I have found them generally to last less long than traditional bulbs. First of all they are extraordinarily fragile. One of ours broke simply by screwing it in. In total I think I broke five of them. I can’t ever remember breaking a traditional bulb. One of my compact fluorescent bulbs (costing €12) lasted a grand total of two hours. Generally I find the bulbs last about a year, which is very poor for something that costs nine dollars, especially when traditional bulbs usually cost less than a dollar. The final problem with compact fluorescence is that they also are toxic when they break, and we have to be careful with the cleanup and disposal when they break, as they so often do.

In the beginning I thought the compact fluorescencents represented a great way to save electricity. But now I see that I have been lied to, and that they really don’t represent a good alternative. I am hoping that LEDs will soon come in and will be viable. But, I’m not holding my breath until that happens. In my lifetime I have seen how, again and again, a wonderful new technology was apparently just around the corner, and then years later we don’t have it, or it doesn’t turn out to be as promised. Considering the cost and problems with compact fluorescent bulbs, I think that we should leave it to consumers to decide, at least until we have a solid alternative. Too many times people, especially on the left, just believe that things will magically work out. Anyway, read the article below.

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“We’re about to lose our light bulbs.

Among the many foolish things the political class in Washington has foisted on an unsuspecting public in recent years was the mandated phase-out of one of the most successful inventions in human history, the incandescent light bulb.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, passed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by President Bush, set in motion a scheme to phase out the incandescent light bulb, replacing it with what the public was told were “more efficient” and “climate friendly” alternatives. Those who questioned the wisdom of the move were assured that emerging technologies, specifically the Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL), would more than fill our lighting needs.

It hasn’t worked out that way. CFLs are more expensive than traditional light bulbs, less reliable as an instant and consistent source of light, and they contain potentially dangerous mercury. Dropping an incandescent light bulb on the floor is a matter of sweeping up broken glass. Break a CFL and you risk contaminating your home and clothes with mercury. Furthermore, the Washington Post recently reported that GE is closing its last remaining incandescent light bulb factory, located in Winchester, Virginia. CFLs can be produced cheaper in China than they can in the U.S., and that’s where the new green jobs are expected to go.

Some members of Congress are finally waking up to the folly their colleagues committed three years ago. Representatives Joe Barton (R-Texas), Michael Burgess (R-Texas), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced a bill – the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB) — in early September that would repeal the section of the 2007 energy bill that mandates the use of more energy-efficient bulbs. “I’m not opposed to the energy saving bulbs at all,” Barton told the Daily Caller (Sept. 17). “But I say let the consumers make the choice, instead of mandating.”

Our misadventure with light bulbs touted to be more energy efficient is another example of what is known as “technology forcing.” Washington mandates the use of a technology under the assumption that when the mandate goes into effect, the technology will be ready. But if the technology isn’t ready for prime time – and CFLs are not – then consumers suffer. The exercise is all the more absurd when the phase out of a proven product by an unproven one is done in the name of fighting global warming, climate change, climate disruption, or whatever label is used to justify government interference in our lives.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) is popularly credited with “inventing” the incandescent light bulb. Actually, Edison improved on work others had been performing for three-quarters of a century. But his light bulb, with its carbon filament, made the product commercially viable and so transformed people’s lives forever. Out went the gas light or candle of old, and in came the incandescent light bulb, powered by colorless, smokeless, weightless energy. Edison immediately grasped the importance of his innovation. Shortly before he filed for a patent for his incandescent light bulb in 1879, he said: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will buy candles.”

Compare this with the words of presidential candidate Barack Obama in January 2008. He told the San Francisco Chronicle in an interview: “Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

The 19th century inventor wanted to make electricity accessible to ordinary people. The 21st century environmental elitist wants to impede that access.

The difference between the two men is well worth pondering.”

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One Response to The Force Phasing Out of the Traditional Lightbulb

  1. greenlantern says:

    Phasing out traditional light bulbs is step in right direction. They really waste energy.

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