Straight Talk
BRIAN LILLEY - Turn out the lights: Government should walk away from ban on incandescent bulbs

Credits: QMI AGENCY

BRIAN LILLEY | QMI AGENCY

 

The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, but apparently they have all kinds of business in every other room in our house.

If you are not aware, you have just one year left to buy real light bulbs before it becomes illegal to trade in Thomas Edison’s greatest-ever invention.

Starting next January, 75- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will become black market items, and by the end of 2014 the same will happen to 40- and 60-watt versions.

It’s all for the environment, though, so I’m sure it is a good thing.

The change was announced in 2007 by then-environment minister John Baird.

“Greenhouse gases are rising. The climate is changing. Winter is disappearing as we know it,” Baird said at the time.

Funny thing, as I write this, there is about four feet of snow atop my Ottawa roof and the temperature outside this morning was -25 C. Winter is not disappearing, scientists are increasingly questioning the official story on climate change and what exactly should be done and Canada has withdrawn from Kyoto. But Baird’s bulb ban remains.

The government claims the bulb ban is technology neutral, but the net effect is the light bulbs we have used for generations and once produced here in Canada, or in the United States, will now be replaced with compact fluorescents and LEDs from China.

Forget for a moment the “carbon footprint” caused by shipping all of our light bulbs in from China and consider whether this really is the best move. First there are the concerns about how the light looks.

As a man, this was never something that I thought of — light is light — but shortly after this ban was announced, I started hearing from women who will swear that fluorescents and LEDs produce a colder light, a less flattering light.

“I don’t like reading by the cadaver light or looking like a lizard in bed,” a friend e-mailed me recently.

The environmentalists would dismiss that as a vanity concern and nothing we should endanger the planet over, but what about our health concerns? I’ve had several CFL bulbs break in my house, including one that melted in the socket in my children’s playroom.

Have you seen the instructions on how they must be cleaned? Here are some of the steps recommended by Health Canada:

* Remove people and pets from the room and keep them out of the room during the cleanup process.

* Ventilate the room for at least 15 minutes prior to starting cleanup by opening windows and doors to the outdoors.

* Do not use a vacuum to clean up the initial breakage, as it will spread the mercury vapour and dust throughout the area and may contaminate the vacuum.

* Place the broken glass and cleanup materials in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid to further minimize the release of mercury vapour.

Ventilate for 15 minutes? Don’t vacuum? Seal materials? It’s a wonder they don’t tell us to call in a HazMat team with their white suits!

The decision to ban incandescent bulbs was a political attempt to make it look like the Harper government was acting to fulfil our Kyoto commitments. We walked away from Kyoto and we should walk away from the ban as well.

Of course, that would have environmentalists screaming blue murder but then again, they dismissed the move as insignificant when Baird announced it six years ago.

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