I blame all of our woes on Thomas Edison.  If he hadn’t insisted on creating the first practical incandescent light bulb, why, we all would still be living in a Luddite paradise, albeit a dark one.  We could still burn oil lamps — er, no, that throws off carbon, too.  How about candles?  Better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness, after all.  And that’s true, as long as it’s a single candle, and not a bunch of them, or your carbon footprint might equal that of Godzilla, or Al Gore, whichever is bigger.

Nick Gillespie at Reason takes a critical look at the abolitionist movement aiming at Edison’s world-changing invention, and the poor replacement that bureaucrats will leave us:

In September, the European Union banned the sale of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, with lawbreakers facing up to $70,000 in fines. Over the next few years, bans on lower-wattage bulbs kick in. In the United States, similar legislation comes into play in 2012. The idea is to kickstart the market for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), which use less energy than conventional incandescents. Although CFLs present any number of problems (even beyond a much higher initial cost), governments all over the globe are determined to make them the new standard.

Invented in its modern form by Thomas Edison in 1879, the light bulb became synonymous with a brilliant idea. Now, it seems, it’s just one more symbol of a nanny state that increasingly dictates more choices in our public and private lives.

Two years ago, I began replacing my incandescents with CFLs, mostly to help save energy and replacement costs. Reason correctly states that CFLs give off an inferior level and quality of light and do not work with dimmers, which actually helps reduce the energy costs of incandescents. But the biggest problem with CFLs is not the noticeably poorer quality of the light, but the clean-up they require when they break, as I wrote a year and a half ago:

What happens when an incandescent bulb hits the floor? Simple: sweep it up, and try not to step on a shard of glass with bare feet. Here’s how people need to handle a broken CFL:

1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
2. Shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system, if you have one.
3. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with metal lid (such as a canning jar) or in a sealed plastic bag.
4. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder.
5. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and place them in the glass jar or plastic bag.
6. Do not use a vacuum or broom to clean up the broken bulb on hard surfaces.
7. Immediately place all cleanup materials outside the building in a trash container or outdoor protected area for the next normal trash.
8. Wash your hands after disposing of the jars or plastic bags containing cleanup materials.
9. Check with your local or state government about disposal requirements in your specific area. Some states prohibit such trash disposal and require that broken and unbroken lamps be taken to a recycling center.
10. For at least the next few times you vacuum, shut off the central forced-air heating/air conditioning system and open a window prior to vacuuming.
11. Keep the central heating/air conditioning system shut off and the window open for at least 15 minutes after vacuuming is completed.

In other words, we’re saving a few pennies at best on energy costs with CFLs over incandescents — and in return, making our homes potential toxic-waste areas and polluting landfills with mercury. It’s an insane policy that can only be justified by radical environmentalist lunatics.

Update: While on the subject of environmental lunacy, watch what happens when a journalist tries to ask a few tough questions of activists:

The Age Of Stupid preaches the doomsday scenario of human extinction by 2055 and says humans will be to blame for their own demise because they fly too much. But Franny Armstong, director of The Age of Stupid, and many of the people at the movie’s premiere flew to New York for the party. Phelim [McAleer] put them on the spot for flying while trying to deny that travel right to others.

His pointed questions didn’t sit well with the organizers of the event or the environmentalists who attended. The film makers and their security team ejected Phelim despite the fact that he had journalistic credentials to cover the event and had done exactly what journalists are supposed to do — ask probing questions.

As Phelim tried to continue his reporting from the sidelines, the security team repeatedly blocked his camera and his view of the environmentalists headed into the premiere.

The Age of Stupid, indeed.

Tags: New York