But the European Union has already institutionalized the changeover from incandescent bulbs--still very similar to the one Thomas Edison perfected more than 100 years ago--to CFLs, and in the US, the clock is ticking towards a 2014 deadline.
There are many reasons to dislike CFLs, but my initial--and therefore to me, most important--reason for hating these government-imposed light bulbs is because they do not give off enough light.
Is this some massive plot to blind me?
"Will some energy be saved? Probably. The problem is this benefit will be more than offset by rampant dissatisfaction with lighting," writes Howard Brandston, lighting consultant, in The Wall Street Journal. "We are not talking about giving up a small luxury for the greater good. We are talking about compromising light. Light is fundamental. And light is obviously for people, not buildings. The primary objective in the design of any space is to make it comfortable and habitable. This is most critical in homes, where this law will impact our lives the most. And yet while energy conservation, a worthy cause, has strong advocacy in public policy, good lighting has very little."
Why couldn't have Uncle Sam made the law that only lights in public places needed the new bulbs--that citizens could still install the lights they prefer? Of course, tax or energy incentives could be made to encourage consumer purchases of CFLs, and legislation could (would?) of course increase taxation on incandescent bulbs to push the agenda--but it would still be a consumer's choice.
The light bulb replacement mandate also strikes me as a stunt of sorts--in that it's a very public, if not ostentatious display that something is being done. But is it really accomplishing what it claims?
"Such legislation imposes substantial costs on both consumers and the economy, but hides them so that legislators avoid blame," writes Martin Hutchinson, in Fortune.
The new light bulb rules could also be regarded--by those of you more conspiracy-minded readers--as a distraction:
By forcing everyone to bend to the will of Our Protectors, one thing is done right: it makes the public mad, and even more annoyed at "green" programs and their often inexplicable restrictions and/or requirements.
When a poll is taken on the public's approval ratings of the incandescent-for-CFLs scheme, the marks will be low.
By the way, by using mercury vapor to provide its so-called illumination, CFLs also prove to be a disposal hazard--pop quiz: how do you dispose of household mercury?
As most of the readers of ICIS know, it is not the easiest of cleanup processes....
Then there's this: According to Walt McGinnis at the In These New Times website, "CFLs are energy hogs to produce, operate and dispose of."
McGinnis asks, "What is the real energy cost of a CFL? What does it cost to mine, manufacture, package, ship, sell, operate [and] dispose of CFLs on the environment? These are questions ignored by CFL promoters."
He says that CFLs should be thought of as "toxic technology."
My eyes certainly think so.