Dim bulbs: Consequential failure

Here is an editorial from today’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The fate of Americans making conventional incandescent light bulbs shows the “green” future touted as U.S. manufacturing’s salvation is yet another faulty government premise.

Congress effectively outlawed incandescent bulbs as of 2014 (the measure was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008). The Obama administration portrays their leading “green” replacements — spiral-shaped compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which American engineers developed in the 1970s — as a bonanza for U.S. manufacturers.

Yet The Washington Post reports that when General Electric this month closes its last U.S. incandescent bulb factory in Virginia, that plant’s 200 workers won’t go on to make CFLs for GE. No, they’ll simply be jobless. GE can’t compete with Chinese makers of labor-intensive CFLs.

Compact flourescents indeed use less energy than incandescents. But their “green” benefits are as dubious as their benefits for U.S. manufacturers. The mercury they contain makes routine disposal a pain and a broken CFL practically a hazmat incident — hardly eco-friendly characteristics. They’re also vulnerable to temperature extremes and don’t emit light instantaneously.

Producing unintended negative consequences while failing to deliver promised economic and ecological advantages, compact fluorescent bulbs exemplify yet again just how off-target government “green” policies are.

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One response to “Dim bulbs: Consequential failure

  1. Hi again
    Glad to see Joe Barton and other congress members beginning to react to the ban..
    I have redone my site and it’s also focused more on light bulbs and the USA now
    http://ceolas.net

    I wrote a new conclusion recently:

    When it comes to energy politics, as with all politics, the actual issues should be dealt with, and the interest of ordinary citizens should be put first – not last:
    Not behind the employment interest of bureaucrat cronies,
    not behind the profit interest of lobbying industrialists,
    and not behind the legislative desire of politicians themselves,
    the itchy urge to bang down the gavel,
    to legislate just for the sake of legislation because of having a role as a legislator.

    Most politicians seem to prefer small meaningless decisions ahead of big effective decisions, which is perhaps not surprising if there is an easier way to “be seen to be doing something”:
    What is more visible than turning lights on and off?

    Waving a light bulb around = Fun Politics
    Meaningfully dealing with the issues = No Fun Politics

    There is also the broader question of living in Free Societies, or Regulated Societies:
    Regulation is clearly needed for safety and security reasons, but in this case, it’s about telling people how they can or can’t use the electricity they pay for, despite there being no electricity shortage, including future and low emission electricity, and despite the alternative and direct ways of actually dealing with energy and emission issues if such a need was perceived.
    Where there is a Problem: Deal with the Problem.

    On a deeper level, it’s about celebrating Creativity – not Destruction.

    Celebrating creativity is about recognizing the advantages that different products have.
    That is why they exist for people to choose.

    President Obama, State of the Union Address 25 January 2011:
    “What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people.
    We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices,
    the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers”

    Yes Mr President, Creative America, the nation of Edison:
    Would you not have allowed him to create his popular light bulb?

    And so it came to pass, in the autumn of 1879, after tireless effort working with different materials, Thomas Edison finally arrived at the ingenious invention we still see today, the Edison light bulb, the world’s single most popular electrical appliance and the oldest electrical invention in widespread common use:
    A beautifully simple, safe, cheap, bright light delivering construction.

    Maybe the time will come when, like its cousin the gleaming radio tube, it gradually fades away, the passing of old technology.

    But let it be a democratic passing by the will of the people,
    not a passing by committee dictats and decrees.

    How many American, European or other officials should it take to change a light bulb?
    None.
    How many citizens should be allowed to choose?
    Everyone.

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