If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

More on those damn bulbs ...

Further to the Greenpeace item below, it seems that events have overtaken me while I was distracted with something else. The import and manufacture of incandescent lightbulbs is illegal from today. There's something very shady going on here, ho ho. Charlotte Gore has a good article on it here and, rather than rehash it, I commend it to you.


  1. Isn't it only 100W bulbs taht are banned from today, with all others to follow shortly?

    Not a bad strategy: compared to a 60W bulb, some of the low energy ones almost give reasonable light. Almost. But the main reason uptake of them so far has been extremely low is because they are, by and large, offensively and expensively rubbish at what they do. Obviously, under those circumstances, the right thing to do is to ban all alternatives so you have to buy them.

    What really gets under my skin about the green agenda is that it invariably bites the poor suckers at the end of the chain. Heaven forbid that manufacturers should be prevented from using several layers of packaging on everything for their convenience - force the consumer into a labyrinth of recycling law instead. No need to produce a better, greener lightbulb - legislate the alternatives out of existence. Invent a whole new money-making economy based on carbon credits, keep the profits and then add insult to injury by slapping green taxes on users of positive carbon footprint devices.

    I'm not even particularly convinced by the carbon footprint argument, nor that - if it happened to be true - any thumb-in-the-dike activities we as individuals are forced to take can possibly be effective.

    Still, it's unlikely the extent of impending danger would be exaggerated to allow unpopular legislation to be passed, taxes to be raised and multinational profits to be safely banked. Or to keep any number of quangos in full-time jobs. And, obviously, scientific models of the world and predictions of doom are wholly accurate and pertinent. Kinda makes you wonder why they're busy cloning glow-in-the-dark pigs instead of working on carbon removal techniques, if global warming is the Armageddon it's supposed to be.

    Unless the pigs are going to be the new generation of both lightbulbs and recycling bins...

  2. Your comment is, as usual, spot on.

    I was just thinking, as the rain lashes down outside my office here, about the 'barbecue summer' that the Met Office promised us. Now, I am not unreasonable on this - predicting the weather is a very difficult thing to do, and the further ahead you try to forecast the more those chaotic variables come into play and turn your serious predictions into wild guesses.

    So when they predict that the world's temperatures will increase by half a degree in the next fifty years (or whatever the latest one is), I am inclined not to take it too seriously.

    You are right, by the way. It is only 100W bulbs for the moment. But once we have accepted that, who knows?

  3. Thanks for the compliment!

    It is absolutely true: if the Met Office can't get a five-day forecast correct, where is the confidence in a 100-year prediction? Especially since there appears to be considerable doubt as to the underlying principles governing the systematic changes. There is evidence to show, for example, that carbon dioxide levels actually trail climatic change as an effect rather than a cause. This is, of course, all based on micro-analysis of geographic strata dating back to a time where there is no direct evidence of the state of the climate. There is no control sample, and no proof that the samples are either uncontaminated or representative of worldwide conditions. In other words, a guess - at best, an educated one.

    There are also a number of inconvenient exceptions: the lack of temperature increases during the Industrial Revolution, for example, or the average temperature drop over the past few years.

    It is often said that "doing nothing is not an option", or that "even if it's wrong, it can't hurt". I would tend to refer the reader to any number of engineered disasters caused by mankind tinkering proactively with Mother Nature. It is simply too holistic a subject to try and isolate single elements and manipulate them to our advantage. We don't understand the potential consequences, or even in which areas those consequences may fall. Actually, I would say doing nothing is a perfectly viable option: nature stands a pretty good chance of reaching its' own equilibrium entirely unaided by the desires of big business. That equilibrium may not be entirely beneficial to individual humans, but it will be a valid one in terms of the bigger picture.

    Where do people see this ending anyway? In an infinitely sustainable, infinitely expanding population that somehow requires zero net resource to fund the expansion? Face it, kids, every ecosystem is finite and therefore will trigger a limiting factor one way or the other. Every one we try and suppress: war, plague, famine, just ups the ante for the next one. Suppress all of them, if you really think you can, and it's going to be a mighty crowded and miserable planet...

    Not strictly weather, but I saw a fascinating documentary once about an oil rig. It was built in Norway (I think - somewhere around there, anyway) and then towed to the North Sea. To work out how to get it to its' destination, they either designed or borrowed a computer system to model some of the wave systems that would need to be negotiated in estuaries and around bridges. Obviously, dragging the superstructure through too much turbulence risked it breaking up. Anyway, fantastically powerful as the computing technology was, it struggled to work out the variables of tidal current in a bay swirling around the supports of a bridge. Bearing in mind how much bigger and more complicated "the weather" is...well, suffice it to say a general local prediction might be possible, with some accuracy. Beyond that, I'm not convinced.

    All incandescent bulbs are scheduled to go, by the way, it's just the dimmer ones have an extension for a few months. Possibly because there are no low-energy equivalents for a lot of smaller light fittings - and it's bad enough forcing people to adopt the technology without breaking the news they've also got to replace all their chandeliers, side-lights, dimmers, etc. I'd guess that's one announcement Gordon will be happy to leave to his successor...

  4. Testing testing. This comments comes from a technologically baffled person who wishes to dispense pearls of wisdom on the subjekt of light bulbs.

  5. Hello, Mr Anonymous! Please dispense said pearls in the same manner in which you posted the above. I'm sure you will find success.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

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