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Environmental Impact

The bulb in my favorite lamp burned out over the weekend and I need to replace it. The dead one is a standard incandescent bulb and I have a compact florescent one to replace it with, cause I'm trying to "reduce my carbon fopotprint" and all that jazz, like I'm supposed to do.

I have no problem with buying a different (more expensive) lighbulb if it means leaving a better world behind for my kids and their kids, but it did get me to thinking. I've seen the websites and whatever that say replacing standard bulbs with a CFL does this:

"f every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars."

So I was wondering... how does it do that?  I don't think GE is changing their manufacturing levels based on my not buying one box of lightbulbs.  I don't think they're changing their manufacturing levels based on a million people not buying lightbulbs.  I'm just trying to figure out the trickle-down implications of what the great light bulb switch does.  So let's say a million of us stop buying standard lightbulbs and switch to CFLs, which last much much longer.  GE continues to produce bulbs at their current rate, except for some reason, sales have dropped so stores don't have to order replacement inventory as frequently.  Warehouses start to have huge stockpiles of these lightbulbs that most people don't want to use anymore. 

The particular factory in Small Town, USA, where these lightbulbs are made has a drop in production and people end up getting laid off. 


And anyway, where are the CFL people getting these numbers?  Are they for real?  Are we all really saving THAT MUCH energy by replacing one lightbulb?  How does that work?



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:13 pm (UTC)
i would love to ask this question on the babywearer forum, where everyone is "crunchier than thou." it would probably be fairly civil, though i could see it starting a debate. though i suspected that when i asked about organic milk (and whether its actually better for kids than non-organic milk) and that stayed amazingly civil.

unrelated: i might need your help writing a new dating profile for myself. gotta figure out if i want to go there now or wait til the summer.
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
I could see this turning into a formula v. breast feeding type argument among that type of crowd...

Let me know if if/when you want to work on your profile. I'm also usually logged into AIM as redfalconsjersey.
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
It is basically the fact that a CFL bulb lasts much longer, but is individually much more toxic and expensive than a incandescent. But you have to buy more of the latter, so the former really is a better buy.

You might want to look up where the bulbs are actually created. Most of that's automated anyway, and outsourced, where the fumes can get inhaled by non-Americans who work cheaply, but in general, you're right. Efficiency often costs people jobs. So it's rough.

But you have to weigh it. If we have a labor-heavy resource that spews a ton of ash and CO2 into the air, is it better to have a cleaner world and a bump in unemployment for a while? It's not an easy answer, but the thing is that even without getting environmentally friendly, we have still outsourced jobs, closed down the coal mines, lost the steelworks. So fixing the labor problem shouldn't come at the cost of poisoning our atmosphere, I think. Or rather, I should say that keeping our air and water dirty won't save enough jobs to matter. They're separate issues.
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
keeping our air and water dirty won't save enough jobs to matter

This is so true, I see it in Sim City all the time.
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I buy the CFLs... I'd rather not have to replace bulbs as frequently.

I just really want to kn ow how they came up with these numbers and if they're really accurate.

I'd love to put solar panels on the roof and get off the electric grid entirely but it's still pretty expensive. Someday, someday...
Mar. 19th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
I can't sum it too well, but have you read the Wiki?
Mar. 19th, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Don't know, Juli. I've wondered the same. I have heard/read also that the new bulbs can cause migraines (I think?). My eyes HATE them. I beg Bruce not to put them in (in the high places, I don't like ladders). He doesn't listen.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )