More Heat Than Light…

2014-02-08_11-13-20There are two ways to look at the great debate over light bulbs.

One is that government regulations meant to save energy by filling the nation’s roughly 4 billion light sockets with vastly more efficient light bulbs are an outrageous offense to personal freedom.

The other is summed up by a funny Internet spot last year for Cree’s super efficient light emitting diode (LED) bulbs: “The light bulbs in your house were invented by Thomas Edison in 1879. Now think about that with your 2013 brain. Do you still do your wash down at the creek while your eldest son stands lookout for wolves?” S

SOURCE: Light bulb attack sheds more heat than light: Our view.

I know that for some when the government does anything they will come out in opposition to it. For them “if the government wants it then it must be wrong”. I like to think that at least in this issue those folks are in a distinct minority.  I am perhaps at the other end of the spectrum. To me one of the primary purposes of government is to establish rules for the overall good of its populace.

While, as it should be, personal freedoms is an important part of our democracy it is not the only and maybe not even the  primary purpose of government. In order to maintain our 21st century advances means that we continue gobble up more and more energy. Where we get that energy is paramount to our existence but how we use it is of equal importance. Edison’s lightbulb of 1880 has served us well but it is widely known that it actually creates more heat than light and therefore is a very inefficient means of creating luminance.  Like many things we need for our own good to be told to move on to more efficient things so that we postpone, at least for the little while, destroying our earth in search of more energy.

I know that this general topic is very much a conservative vs. progressive thing. When a Republican president was in office for most of the first decade of the twenty-first century. He did little to accomplish anything in the energy conservation area.  The technology was there to make a much more fuel-efficient engines for our cars but that progress had to wait until a Democrat mandated that it happen. Just in the last four years our energy consumption has dramatically improved in that area and will continue to improve in the coming years.

Sometimes it just requires collective action to spur us into where we need to go and that almost always is done by our government.

5 comments

  1. Doesn’t it have more to do with technology and cost? . Sure, the government is now willing to put loads of money into Tesla’s hands- but the vehicle still costs well beyond the average wealthy person’s ability to pay.
    We used to put the same money into university hands and let the published results be for everyone.

    I am not sure fracking is so great for the environment. Simply permitting oil companies charge whatever hits their fancy does not seem to help the government or normal people.

    Are those Democrat problems because they are happening under a Democratic watch- or are they the problem of greed?

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    • Janette, I think/hope we are talking on different planes here. You seem to be saying that somehow requiring people to use energy conserving things is some sort of government conspiracy to put more money in the hands of big business. I think this is very much a part of what our government is supposed to do. In the same way that government regulated acid rain and polluting our rivers/water source was something that needed to be done 40 years ago, reducing our carbon footprint is absolutely needed today.

      As far as costs go, sure the energy efficient bulbs cost more up front than the century old technology but over the bulb’s life it is returned several times over. Now that it is being regulated and therefore selling more the cost of this technology will go down significantly. When I bought my first flat screen tv about ten years ago it cost about ten times more than it does today. That is the normal cycle of tech stuff.

      I’m not sure fracking is good for us either and am a little disappointed that it seems to be going forward with not enough regulation and oversight.

      I think we need to get away from the mentality of things like this being a Democrat or Republican problem and instead treat it as a problem for humanity. There is a huge amount of evidence that we are contributing to severe changes in our environment due to our exponentially increasing dependence of carbon based energy. When we reach the tipping point, if we haven’t already done so, there will be no going back to the good old days of predictable weather and such. Doing something now is for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is not a political problem but yes I do agree that it’s solution is very political right now and it certainly shouldn’t be.

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  2. Janette, I missed your reference to Telsa on the last comment. First of all the Telsa money was not a grant but a loan guarantee and even that was repaid ten years ahead of schedule last May. Here is the source for that info: http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/22/autos/tesla-loan-repayment/index.html

    The federal government in its most recent data gave universities over $40 billion in grants for R&D. That Telsa guarantee were to about 1% of that value. So your concern that the government is now giving grants to private business to the detriment of universities is without fact. Don’t believe all the political rhetoric you hear on this topic…

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    • You don’t want these to be a Democrat or a Republican problem when under a Democratic watch, but your posts are over and over slamming the Republicans? “When a Republican was in charge” seems to start almost every negative comment. Well that or- the military or Christians 😉
      Anyway.
      Tesla was a gamble like Solyndra. One paid off and the other failed. Both were about themselves- they were never about sharing technology. That Tesla put together a $70,000 car- with a $10,000 rebate- is not about the good of the people. Of course, like nuclear rods, we have no idea what to do with these batteries when they are put on the side of the road. I actually trust nuclear more (disclaimer- my son is a nuclear physicist).

      The money was given/ loaned at the time that money was being cut to universities and NIH. It was loaned at a time when loans were dry in so many places. We seem to disagree that public money should be used for public good in this case.
      Actually, I think Solyndra was actually the better technology- but had poor leadership follow through. We let the Chinese mess us up on that one.

      I think that the advancement to LED lighting is huge. They produce wonderful light at a good cost with little downside. Unfortunately, most light bulbs that people are putting in their houses are compact fluorescent. Hazardous waste in our houses, but they are cost efficient. And do leave a smaller CARBON footprint.
      Thanks for the brain exercise! Back to watching House of Cards. Have a great night.

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  3. The facts are the facts Janette. President Obama did more for energy conservation in his first month than President Bush did in eight years.
    Isn’t all grant money a gamble. R&D (which I was directly associated with for 30 years) is a gamble. You don’t necessary know what will come of it until you do it. I stick by the fact that Telsa and Solyndra were a very small portion of the money given for R&D during those years. The vast majority went to universities as has always happened in the past.

    Enough said, except to tell you that I don’t hate all Republicans and love all Democrats. Nor do I hate Christians or the military. You seem to think that if you criticize something you must hate it. But maybe your basic worldview is that these orgs can do nothing but good and therefore don’t need improvement or certainly not criticism? My worldview is the opposite of that.

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