In a bid to counter claims that Americans are the stupidest people on the planet the UK’s Daily Mail has been running a series of articles on Britain’s switch from conventional light bulbs to CFL’s. Yesterday, the paper, the UK’s second in terms of circulation after Rupert Murdoch’s, The Sun, ran a front-page story with the headline:
Yes, that’s right, Britain has now been plunged into total darkness as a result of the voluntary removal of 100 watt incandescent light bulbs from the shelves of grocery and home improvement stores. Too terrified to turn on the new CFL’s for fear of an outbreak of the Black Death and other dread diseases, including congenital silliness, the island’s inhabitants now sit trembling, huddled in their homes waiting for the sun that never used to set upon them, to rise again to restore a bit of light to their world. Reports are growing of violent gangs roaming the streets using flashlights (torches in the local vernacular) with incandescent bulbs to stun and pillage an unarmed, defenseless populace. Remember, when incandescent bulbs are outlawed only outlaws will have incandescent bulbs.
Today The Mail followed up with this doozy
Revolt!! Revolution!! What else could one possibly expect from the land of Magna Carta, John Stewart Mill and Adam Smith when the Crown’s subjects are robbed of their rights to freely release greenhouse gases into the commons?
So, are the streets flowing with blood as freedom-lovng Brits build barricades in a final last gasp effort to preserve their liberties in a world threatened by eco-totalitarianism? Well, no, this is actually more like a George-Bush sort of revolt where one expresses one’s undying commitment to liberty by going shopping and hoarding as many of the Climaticide-causing little buggers as one can fit in the pantry.
Here are some actual quotes from the Daily Mail stories (although the headlines quoted above are the best):
The voluntary withdrawal – part of a Government campaign to force people into buying low-energy fluorescent bulbs – follows the scrapping of the 150w bulb last year.
The move has angered medical charities who say the low-energy alternatives can trigger a host of ailments, including migraines, epilepsy and skin rashes.
Ah, yes, the weighty opinions of the authoritative but unnamed “medical charities”.
However, critics complain that compact fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, making them dangerous to dispose of, and give off a harsh light more suited to offices than living rooms.
What, people don’t get migraines, epilepsy and skin rashes in offices?
They can also take up to a minute to reach full brightness and do not work with dimmer switches. Some do not even fit conventional lightbulb sockets.
Wait, when were these articles written? It says January 2009 but it sounds as if the author wrote it two or three years ago and just left it lying around in a drawer until deciding to publish it now. Maybe it was one of his New Year’s resolutions to clear all the crap out of his desk. I have CFL’s throughout my house. The older ones can be slow to reach full strength but the newer ones do it in a few seconds. And, I’ve never seen a CFL that didn’t fit a convention socket, although, once again, some of the older one’s were a bit too large to fit comfortably in some lamps.
There is also concern because the fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, which makes them dangerous to get rid of.
The bulbs do need to be disposed of properly, but there are facilities for that purpose, just as their are for televisions and computer monitors, which also contain mercury and other toxic substances. (Recyclers of those items do need to be subject to better government oversight to keep them from ending up in Chinese recycling sweat shops where they poision the workers.)
But concerns about the poor quality light of low energy bulbs – and the fact that most don’t work with dimmer switches – has led to tens of thousands of people stockpiling supplies.
To be fair, all of the Daily Mail nonsense has been debunked by other news sources including this piece from BusinessGreen.com:
Lighting experts slam Mail energy efficient bulb scare story
Despite all the diseases and shoppers’ popular uprisings it appears that Britain will come through the Great-Light-Bulb Transition with only minor scrapes and bruises. As to the Daily Mail, one can only wonder what sort of nostalgia-waxing it will indulge in once British anti-coal activists succeed in closing down Britain’s coal-fired power plants. Ah, CO2 we hardle knew ye. (I know, I know, it’s an Irish saying, but what can you expect from a stupid American…?)