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How many politicans does
it take to change a light bulb?

Following the ecoalarmist lead of Australia and the Canadian province of Ontario, Lloyd Levine, the California assemblyman who heads the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce Committee wants California to outlaw the sale and use of incandescent light bulbs. Thomas Edison should be doing cartwheels in his grave. Levine, like a whole parcel of other extremist environmentalists, thinks he can help solve global warming by banning the incandescent light bulb. The rhetoric is good for green votes from extremist ecoalarmists—but not much else. What Levine really thinks is that, in one of the greenest States in the country, his extremist views might land him in the governor's mansion in Sacramento.

On April 23 of this year, the Utilities and Commerce Committee voted 7 to 2 to bring to the floor of the California Assembly a measure than would ban the sale, distribution or use of incandescent light bulbs in the State—under the guise of combating global warming. According to Levine, the radical environmentalists and the lobbyists for the fluorescent lighting industry who are pushing for a global ban, by eliminating incandescent light bulbs, the country will reduce energy consumption by some $18 billion per year. And, they claim, it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10 billion tons a year. And, the move will theoretically save homeowners between $80 and $180 per year on their electric bills. In reality, The downside is the alternative being pushed by the environmentalists and the lobby for the fluorescent lighting industry.

If ecoalarmists like Al Gore, Jr. had their way, the electric light would already be banned and the human race would be using candlelight, coal oil or kerosene lamp luminance since the alternative, fluorescent lighting, is far more dangerous and unhealthy that any other form of lighting known to man. However, their lobbyists are doing a much better job of convincing the politicians that since fluorescent lighting is cheaper—and cooler—than any form of artificial lighting, it should replace the incandescent light bulb worldwide. Levine's political adversaries in the Utilities and Commerce Committee have criticized Levine and the Democrats for attempting to enact a law that will pose an environmental risk to every Californian for what will be, at best, a symbolic gesture to combat greenhouse gases and reduce oil consumption to benefit the fanatical oil conservation penchant of the Seven Sisters.

Eleven days before the Utilities and Commerce Committee of the California Assembly voted to push a very bad bill to a floor vote, an article in the Ellsworth (Maine) American should have been a caution flag for Levine—and for politicians in the nation's capital. On April 12 the newspaper reported that an Ellsworth housewife, Brandy Bridges, dropped and shattered a fluorescent tube-bulb on the carpeted floor in her daughter's bedroom. Aware that compact fluorescent light bulbs [CFL) (like those shown on left) are potentially hazardous, Bridges called the local Home Depot store to ask for advise. Home Depot told her that the CFL contained mercury and advised her to call the Poison Control hotline.

The hotline had her contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP sent Andrew Smith, a toxicologist, to her home. He sealed the room with plastic and told Bridges it would cost about $2,000 to clean up the mess from the one toxic CFL devise that broke on her floor. The levels of mercury toxicity in the downstairs living area were safely under 300 ng/m3. However, the mercury levels spiked to 1,939 ng/m3 in Shayley Bridges bedroom. Bridges daughter could not sleep there because of the toxicity levels were too great. Bridges, a single mom with an overcrowded house and limited financial means, filed a claim with her homeowner's policy. The insurance company denied the claim because mercury is a pollutant that wasn't covered in her homeowner's policy. Smith said he believed the contamination was localized at the spot where the bulb broke, adding that mercury is dangerous to anyone who has experienced long term exposure.

Fluorescent lighting, which gives off minute particles of x-ray and other electromagnetic pollutants including mercury, poses health risks that have never been adequately researched or quantified. Researchers the world over have determined that fluorescent lamps pose a danger. In addition to headaches and eye strain, fluorescent lighting has been linked to anxiety, attention deficit disorders, depression, sleep disorders and skin cancer. None of the potential threats are inherent with incandescent lighting.

The University of Sydney's (Australia) Melanoma Clinic has determined that those who work indoors under fluorescent light are twice as likely to get skin cancer—much more than those who frequently sunbathe on the beach. Quoting statistics from the Sydney study, the University of Connecticut Health Center wrote in the Dec. 2005 issue of National Institutes of Health News that "...if the link between light exposure and cancer risk can be confirmed, it could have an immediate impact on the production and use of artificial lighting in this country."

Sadly, I don't think so. I don't think so because the bureaucracts in the US Dept. of Energy have estimated—on their "magic computers"—that switching from incandescent light bulbs to CFLs will eliminate the need for 80 coal-fired electric power plants in the United States, and reduce fossil fuel emissions by 159 million tons per year. This is, of course, the same type of ecological mumble-jumble that Al Gore used in putting together his Inconvenient Truth. Lots of speculation and not much truth. Environmentalists build worse case scenarios based not on fact but on what would necessarily have to occur in order for the conditions they perceive will exist if radical change is not implemented by the time they estimate the latest ecological disaster will happen. (By the way, none of the ecological disasters the radical environmentalists predicted over the last 100 years have happened. The batting average of the ecoalarmists are "zero.")

And, even though Thomas Edison might be convulsing in his grave over the planned demise of the incandescent light bulb he invented, America's largest lamp manufacturers aren't. General Electric, Osram-Sylvania, and Philips have invested millions in the development of CFLs. Now, with "green" hitting fever pitch in the United States since the passage of Public Law 109-058, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on Aug. 8, 2005, the left-leaning US Senate recently passed The Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficient Act of 2007 that includes a host of of green incentives pushed by the environmental lobbyists who are funded by the Seven Sister and their globalist friends who understand that in every manufactured environmental crises are profits.

The outlawing of the incandescent light bulb and the forced conversion of mankind to harmful fluorescent lighting will provide a trillion dollar windfall to General Electric, Osram-Sylvania, and Philips during the first year. The cost to consumers will be between fourfold to tenfold. You can buy four 100W GE or Sylvania light bulbs at your neighborhood supermarket or Lowes or Home Depot for $1 to $3 dollars. One fluorescent light bulb costs anywhere from $3 to $25. If you are using fluorescent tube-bulbs, four "bulbs" can cost up to $100. The fluorescent bulbs (on the left) retail from $3 to $6 each. Four of them will cost the consumer from $12 to $24. The manufacturers argue that because the fluorescent bulbs last so much longer and cost 75% less to operate, the cost differences are a wash. (Home Depot, the home building chain that last year began running their radio help wanted ads in Spanish to attract illegal alien job-seekers announced, in April of this year, that they would no longer sell incandescent light bulbs by 2011.)

The Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficient Act of 2007 which was recently passed by the US Senate—if it is passed by the House and signed into law by the president—will include new lighting efficiency standards and will effectively phase out the general use of 100W and 75W incandescent light bulbs. Initially 25W, 40W and 60W light bulbs will not be phased out since most of the smaller watt bulbs are decorator items and there is no economical replacement.

The manufacturing industry is alarmed by what they see happening. General Electric spokeswoman Kim Freeman of the company's lighting division argued than banning any technology will stifle innovation. She argued that a free enterprise system is better served by establishing minimum performance standards that would force manufacturers to make existing products meet the new standards—as the government has done several times with the auto industry.. Despite efforts by the lighting industry to reach an accord with Congress, the government is determined to outlaw 100W and 75W light bulbs even though industry executives have assured Congress they can create an incandescent light bulb that will rival the fluorescent bulbs for energy savings.

Several parallel pieces of legislation are floating around in the House. One of those bills has made it through the House Energy & Commerce Committee and is awaiting debate in the full House. Both the House and Senate versions of this legislation contain a provision that declares that the federal law will supersede all State versions to make sure there are not multiple "standards" that the lighting industry must contend with. So while California is debating the "green" lighting situation and will likely become the first State to outlaw Edison's light bulb, whatever law they enact will be superseded by the federal version that lobbyists for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the Lighting Efficiency Coalition, the EPA, and a dozen or so environmental groups have fought hard to craft.

While many of the critics of the CFL are concerned only about the cosmetics of compact fluorescent lighting—the color hue of fluorescent compared to incandescent light, environmental critics have raised concern about the trace amounts of mercury in each CFL light bulb—about 5 mg—of a substance that is very toxic. Proponents of the CFL argue that the coal-fired power plants release mercury vapors when they burn coal, and that a coal-fired plant powering an average compact fluorescent lamp will release 3.3 mg of mercury into the atmosphere compared to releasing 13.6 mg of mercury the same period that an incandescent lamp burns. This is pure smoke and mirrors since the mercury emitted from electric power plants into the atmosphere—about 48 tons per year—is not considered directly harmful as the mercury in a compact fluorescent lamp. Break one and you have the problem experienced by Brandy Bridges. Osram-Sylvania said all of the major light bulb manufacturers are committed to reducing the amount of mercury contained in CFLs. In the meantime, they said, they have partnered with the environmental services company, Veolia Environment and with FedEx to safely dispose of the burned out CFLs in your home. If you recall, there has never been a need for light bulb manufacturers to partner with an environmental company to provide special packaging to safely dispose of an incandescent light bulb. When it burns out, you throw it in the trash can. When you are dealing with the bureaucracy and with unscrupulous environmentalists who lie more often than they tell the truth, it worries me when they tell me CFLs are safer than traditional light bulbs.

When you look at the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website you will find a question: "What if I accidentally break a fluorescent bulb in my home?" The website advises you not to try to vacuum it up because a household vacuum cleaner will spread mercury vapors throughout the house—and contaminate the vacuum cleaner. The website advises the homeowner to [a] ventilate the room, [b] lower the temperature [c] and wear a dust mask, goggles and coveralls when you clean up the broken CFL. With a standard light bulb? A broom and dust pan is sufficient. Like you, I am eagerly awaiting the mandated transition from Tom Edison's light bulb to Al Gore's ecoalarmist nightmare.

In February of this year Australia became the first nation to mandate the transition from the light bulb to CFLs in a three year phase-out that will result in an outright ban of the traditional light bulb by 2012—in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian Minister of the Environment, Dr. David Kemp said the transition could cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tons by 2012 (based on theoretically cutting the need for "X" amount of electricity—although everyone knows that the demand for more electricity by industry worldwide is increasing, not decreasing. Coal-fired electric plants will be dramatically increasing their output of electricity to meet the demands of a modernizing third world. Like everything else the barons of industry and the merchant princes do, the industrialized nations will be expected to foot the bill.

Canada has also announced it will ban the sale of what Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn described as "ineffective light bulbs" by 2012 as well. The Guardian newspaper in London said England is moving in the same direction and will also ban incandescent light bulbs. The Euroepan Union has notified its 27-member States that they have two years to convert to energy-efficient lighting. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who chaired an energy summit in July, told the media that "...we're not saying people should throw out all the light bulbs in their house today, but people should start looking at what's in the shops." it was clear, when she spoke, that Merkel is not a fan of energy-efficient lighting when she said: "Most of the light bulbs in my flat are energy-saving bulbs. They're not quite bright enough. When I'm looking for something I've dropped on the carpet, I have a bit of a problem."

So, just how many politicians does it take to change a light bulb? A simple majority. Sadly, banning the light bulb in favor of a world luminated by compact fluorescent lighting is a politiccally-correct effort in futility. At best, the impact CFLs will have on the environment will be so scientifically minimal that the only way it will ever be measured will be in the scoring of political points.

In the final analysis, not only is the quality of light emitted from compact Fluorescent lighting poor, it can't match the light spectrum of incandescent light. Over the next couple of decades, expect to see more Americans with vision problems. In addition, the health risks caused by fluorescent lighting are very real. A decade or two into a world of fluorscence, skin cancers and radiation-related illnesses will become more prevalent and the medical community at the end of this century—if we escape universal healthcare—will be advocating the return to the safe incandescent lamps of the past, with the lobbyists for the oil industry still be moaning the impracticality of Tom Edison's light bulb.

Well, once again, you have my two cents worth on this subject.



Just Say No
Copyright © 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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