Thursday, January 17, 2008

Let's Shed a Little Light on the Subject

The dim bulbs are at it again.

A few weeks ago I was disturbed to read that there is a proposal in Congress to ban the incandescent light bulb in favor of the energy-saving fluorescent bulb. This is an attempt to force conservation of electricity.

Some thoughts off the top of my pointy little head:

(1) What will be the energy costs to convert old lighting factories to accomodate the construction of fluorescent bulbs? Similarly, what will be the energy costs for replacing fixtures which currently use incandescent bulbs but may not be able to use fluorescents?

(2) Fluorescent bulbs have been around for many decades and have found only imited use in the home environment for a reason. If the technology advances to solve the problems that people find with them( flickering, slow warmups, and harsh illumination), people will make their own decisions and the problem, if one exists at all, will be solved.

(3) The constant humming, and flickering of the fluorescent bulb, is discomforting to some, and downright worrisome to others. (See the clip below from Web MD.)

(4) Shouldn't the public be allowed to choose which bulbs they prefer? Is there so little trust in the free market system? Is it not true that the efficiencies and benefits of fluorescent bulbs would be self-evident? People would be able to see any benefits that might appeal to them (financial, comfort, illumination) and choose to make the switch on their own. After all, at the turn of the previous century, people had no trouble switching from horse and buggy to the horseless carriage. No one had to use the force of the government to usher in that new technology.

This is similar to the California idea to have all home thermostats controlled by power companies (and the state) to automatically set thermostats at a designated temperature and prevent any raising or lowering by indivuals. In other words, in a power emergency (who gets to define that?) one may not be able to maintain a desired comfort level.

I suppose water is next.

Each year the government, local, state and federal, become more and more involved in our daily lives. All the warnings of a few decades ago of the slippery slope have come true. Liberals laughed at those warnings, but it is obvious that it is all too easy to strip away one freedom after another. Soon we could all become little automatons, chugging away in our governmentally controlled environments, sweating or shivering as the State demands, living in our allotted square feet, in our assigned apartment, drinking our allotment of water with our vegetarian meals. This ever expanding nanny state scares me.

Oh! I forgot! It's all for the children.

From WebMD, Jan. 17, 2007

Have you started replacing your old incandescent lightbulbs with those expensive, energy-saving compact fluorescent lamps? They're supposed to save energy, reduce environmental carbon dioxide, and pay for themselves within a year (unless you are clumsy like me and you drop one!)

The British government has mandated elimination of conventional lightbulbs by 2011. Wait a minute! Critics claim health concerns related to these new lamps are being overlooked. Specifically, one advocacy group representing migraine sufferers suggests that the new eco-bulbs actually trigger migraine attacks. They are unclear regarding the proposed mechanism: erratic flickering of the bulbs, toxic (visible) wavelengths, or perhaps some combination of effects.

For decades we have known that some folks are physically uncomfortable in environments with exposed fluorescent tube lighting but controlled studies comparing the rates of acute migraine among age-matched population groups have never been performed.

The UK Migraine Action Association has plenty of anecdotal stories from migraine sufferers that link more frequent migraine headaches with use of these high-efficiency lightbulbs.

It makes little sense to debunk whether or not visible light emitted from a fluorescent lamp causes migraine when we know the same thing can happen to some people who smell pumpkin pie!

No comments: