Saturday, March 26, 2011

Let there be Light!

Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has outlawed the single most important invention of the last 200 years.

No other invention has brought so much benefit to mankind at so little cost.   Yes, the incandescent light bulb, the source of light for billions of people, has been outlawed by congress.

For the vast majority of human history, we have lived in darkness.  And not just metaphorical darkness.  Actual darkness.  Light was a rare and expensive luxury.  People worshipped the sun and had great festivals to mark the longest and the shortest days of the year.  Many hours were spent in the darkness, huddled against the monsters of the long, dark night.  The only sources of useful light were candles or oil lamps, and both were luxury items that the masses could not afford.

Candles and oil lamps are also incredibly dangerous.  Fire was an ever present threat that killed many people.

The light bulb changes all of that. Now, we hardly notice the amount of light in the outside world, for we have the safe and trusty light bulb to banish the darkness. 

The light bulb has transformed human society.  People are freed from the shackles of sunlight, and can work or play around the clock.  This has led to a great leap in human productivity.  When we say that we are burning the midnight oil, what we really mean is that we are using a light bulb to vanquish the darkness.

This arrangement has worked incredibly well for a long time, with a few minor issues.  You see, it seems that the light bulb is not efficient.

Much of the energy consumed is wasted in the form of heat.  And the amount of power used to create light is much higher than in some of the alternative sources of light, like the big, bulky fluorescent bulbs. 

With the introduction of compact fluorescent bulbs, there came predictions that the reign of the incandescent bulb was over, and that we would all switch to these new, energy saving devices.  The second coming of light, so to speak.

But the switch over never came, and the CFL bulbs never captured a material share of the market.  People did not like them.  They were expensive, did not produce very good light, and a poor investment, costing ten times a regular light bulb. .

This lack of free market adoption is not good enough for the nanny staters and enviro-nazis.   They want to save the planet, and see the incandescent bulb as a threat to the environment.  So it must go, no matter the consequences.

So they gave up waiting for the masses to see the light on CFL's, and demanded that people be forced to buy them.  They argued that CFL's work just as well, last many times longer, and save large amounts of energy.

Incredibly, congress agreed, and banished the incandescent bulbs to the darkness.  Effective next year, we will no longer be able to purchase the good old light bulb.  Only CFL's are allowed.

Now there are some problems with CFL's. Namely, they suck.

They don't work: one of the great uses of light bulbs is instant light.  You walk into a room, flip a switch, and presto, you can see.  CFL's don't work that way.  Not only do they emit a harsh light, but it takes some 15 minutes for the bulb to reach full brightness.  This is a bad solution for bulbs in places like storage closets, garages, and any place where the light is not left on for a long time.

The Return on investment is bad:  The CFL's cost more.  A lot more.  Like 10 times as much as an incandescent bulb.  But they are supposed to last for years longer.  Except that they do not.  Breakage aside, the CFL's are not lasting as long as was promised. They tend to burn out faster in situations where they are turned on and off a lot.  All of which means you never get back the 10x cost for bulb.

They are a toxic waste hazard:  The CFL's contain mercury.  This is REALLY DANGEROUS chemical.  Unlike Alar and every other faux chemical scare the left has inflicted upon us over the past decade, this stuff is deadly.  The EPA published guidelines on how to clean up after a broken CFL bulb.  3 pages of instructions including opening doors and windows and turning off the heat. . So if your kids are horsing around in the bedroom and break a bulb, you have to cool off the entire house to the outside temperature in order to keep poisonous gases from spreading throughout your home.   How much energy am I saving when I open all my windows in January? 

See the Federal guidelines here:

How much are we saving here, exactly?

But none of this matters.  We must bow to the environmental gods and use these crappy bulbs to light our lives. 

And all of this data was available before the law was passed, so none of this is a surprise.

So it seems like this was deliberate.  The green movement has been accused of trying to move us back to the stone age.  In this case, however, they are merely regressing civilization to the Dark Agees.

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