Sunday, February 12, 2012

Did I cry "wolf" on the incandescent light bulb ban?

I may need to do a mea culpa here.

For most of last year, many Republicans, myself included, were screaming "Murder!" (not "Bloody murder," because bloodiness is not a requirement for murder) over the pending "ban" on incandescent light bulbs that began its phase-in on January 1, 2012, with the popular 100-watt bulb the first target.  It was never to be a legal prohibition per se but a requirement that incandescent bulbs meet certain energy efficiency standards.  Our belief -- well, the belief in certain conservative circles, that I parroted -- was that it was impossible for incandescent bulbs to meet these new standards.  There was a definite resentment on our part at forcing us to give up a simple, safe and cheap product and instead use the less effective, less pleasant, more expensive and far more dangerous compact fluorescent bulbs, all in the name of the Green Nazis.

Or so we were told.  And so we believed, including me.

So, January 1, 2012 has come and gone.  The old 100-watt incandescent bulbs are off the shelves.

But if the new standards were indeed a de facto ban on incandescents, if it was indeed impossible for incandescents to meet the new standards, please explain my last visit to Target, in which I saw a shelf full of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs -- in 4-packs, no less -- that flat-out advertise they meet the new energy standards.  They were a bit more expensive than the old ones, but not by much.

One of the problems Republicans have with environmental issues is their history of opposing just about every environmental standard, both unreasonable and otherwise.  They scream that any new environmental regulations will be prohibitively expensive, or impossible to meet, or will destroy the economy, or all of the above.  (As if the alternative of living with air so dirty it peels the paint off cars -- which it used to do in Pennsylvania -- is somehow acceptable.)

This does not mean the Green Nazis, as I like to call them, are right on everything or even most things.  You can't have any knowledge of ancient history and still believe in the theory of anthropogenic global warming; that whole "Medieval Warming Period" gets in the way.  You can't have some knowledge of astronomy and believe in it, either; hard to argue that the alleged melting of the polar ice caps on Earth are due to humans when the ice caps on Mars are melting as well.  And I am sick of their complete refusal to accept that we need energy, that energy is by its very nature polluting, that we must live with a certain amount of pollution for the time being, or that there are some factors that just might be more important than energy efficiency.

But Republicans need to understand that they have no credibility on this issue.  Just as the Green Nazis argue that unless we adopt every single environmental regulation catastrophe will result, conservatives already consistently argued that catastrophe will result if we do in fact adopt those same regulations -- and, so far, no catastrophe has resulted. 

Eventually, the GOP's cries of "Wolf!" will come with serious consequences, as the Green Nazis will demand too much in the way of environmental regulations, as I think they already have (Keystone XL, for instance, or the new mercury standards for power plants), but their opponents will have no legs to stand on because none of their predictions in the past have been true.

So, I must admit that, with the "ban" on incandescent bulbs, it looks like conservatives, myself included, have again cried "Wolf!"  My apologies.  It is just a reminder that neither side in any debate has a complete monopoly on the truth. 

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jeff
    Certainly there is much confusion about the ban.
    You may have misunderstood the regulations.
    The ban is bases on brightness rather than wattage.
    So dim (sub 1490 lumen) 100W bulbs allowed, brighter ones banned.
    Moreover, rough service and other types not banned, though their sales are monitored
    This makes it all clear:

    The ban is wrong on many levels - including in only saving a fraction of 1% of US energy usage
    on US Dept of Energy and EU stats and surveys, referenced
    also describing more relevant electricity generation, grid and home consumption savings.

    A token switch of lighting to show politicians are "doing something"
    ....doing something for grateful lobbying light bulb manufacturers who welcomed the ban on unprofitable cheap bulbs:
    Why welcome being told what you can or can't make? ;-)
    They already achieved a 1000 hr lifespan limit, and now achieve a profitable price increase (on limited lifespan improvement in actual use)
    Documented and referenced:

    All about the deception behind banning light bulbs:
    Freedom Light Bulb