Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mandated Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Bulbs Are Environmentally Unsafe & Unsound

I’m passing along this email warning about CFL light bulbs that can start burning and spread the fire to your home. It should be noted that the ballast in these bulbs (what triggers the light bulb when you flip the switch) contains mercury, a toxic “heavy metal”. Any broken bulb or any burning of ballast releases mercury into the environment-your home. Disposal of used CFL bulbs cannot be with regular trash disposal, but they must be recycled and processed as a “hazardous material”. To date, there is no uniform protocol established for the safe handling and disposal of CFL bulbs.

Because CFL bulbs are slightly more efficient at producing light (they produce more light and less heat per unit of electricity) a nearly worldwide environmental movement is driving lawmakers to mandate conversion of home and business lighting from incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs. However, despite all the hype about the theoretical benefits of promoting CFL bulbs, such conversion can lead to either cost savings and environmental benefits or to increased expense and pollution, depending on the particular circumstances.

Home or business lighting with incandescent bulbs provides significantly greater contribution to heating needs than CFL lighting. In a cool climate with hydroelectric power and fossil fuel heating, exchanging incandescent lighting for CFL lighting would shift a portion of energy consumption from clean and cheaper hydroelectric power, to the increased expense and pollution associated with burning fossil fuels.

Despite these and other confounding factors, the average energy consumer is likely to experience a small decrease in electricity consumption and a lower electricity bill which may or may not be noticeable to the homeowner. In addition, the manufacturing and handling of CFL bulbs requires more energy consumption than that of incandescent bulbs. The higher cost and energy usage in manufacturing and handling associated with CFL bulbs may offset or exceed any theoretical cost/energy savings from their use. Because of the false belief that CFL bulbs are good for the environment and conservation, incandescent light bulbs have been outlawed in the U.S. and in many other Western Countries and they will soon be unavailable for purchase here or anywhere.

Unfortunately, this is another misguided effort to control the people, from those who claim to want to do the right thing for the environment and who believe religiously in Global Warming and want to stave off its man-made effects. Typically, these people neglect to calculate the collateral effects and cost of action they propose, endorse and enforce on the rest of us. In this case, the Environmental Lobby and lawmakers subject to their influence, have irresponsibly neglected the full balance of negative effects on the world.

Obvious negatives include higher prices for CFL bulbs. Some have claimed that General Electric (GE) stands to benefit greatly from the sale of their CFL bulbs, and that the outlawing of incandescent bulbs was done mainly to help GE make money. While it is clear that with Cap & Trade, the Obama administration and the Democrats are colluding to enrich GE in return for GE support (see Crony Capitalism), GE recently closed their massive incandescent light bulb manufacturing plant in Virginia adding to high regional unemployment, and China is now the largest producer of CFL bulbs for the world. Outlawing incandescent bulbs has thus added to the steady loss of American manufacturing and jobs to overseas interests.

The increased cost of CFL bulbs is not just due to markup or to increased costs associated with materials and manufacturing, but is also due to the cost of necessary, proper hazardous waste handling from the collection of materials, to manufacturing, and through disposal. Disposal of hazardous waste is often contracted for and shipped to third world countries for storage.

Other negative effects include those on the environment of spreading mercury throughout our communities with potential human exposure, causing brain and other nervous system damage, and then ending up in hazardous waste landfills poisoning the earth. CFL bulbs also expose humans to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF), Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) energy, and low levels of UV light, which may have adverse effects on the human body. Additionally, CFL bulb light quality is inferior to that of the incandescent bulb, making all visual inspection, from that of patients by their doctors for signs of disease, to that of the subject of the visual arts and design, to that of products for defects by manufacturers, more difficult and less revealing. There are also a number of reports suggesting that CFL lighting can adversely affect health, mood, psychological well-being, and those with pain syndromes and certain skin conditions.

If you believe that the outlawing of incandescent bulbs should be repealed, please contact your government representatives and let them know your feelings on this issue. Howard M. Brandston, a lighting engineer who has done a great deal of research and referencing in regard to these issues, makes his efforts available on his website for the public. In addition, a group opposed to outlawing incandescent light bulbs, “Free Our Light”, has set up a website and Facebook page where you’ll find information about this issue and you can sign a petition and communicate with like-minded people.

Forwarded Email Warning

Below is a picture of a CFL light bulb from my bathroom. I turned it on the other day and then smelled smoke after a few minutes. Four inch flames were spewing out of the side of the ballast like a blow torch! I immediately turned off the lights. But I'm sure it would have caused a fire if I was not right there. Imagine if the kids had left the lights on as usual when they were not in the room. I took the bulb to the Fire Department to report the incident. The Fireman wasn't at all surprised and said that it was not an uncommon occurrence. Apparently, sometimes when the bulb burns out there is a chance that the ballast can start a fire. He told me that the Fire Marshall had issued reports about the dangers of these bulbs.

Upon doing some Internet research, it seems that bulbs made by “Globe” in China seem to have the lion’s share of problems. Lots of fires have been blamed on misuse of CFL bulbs, like using them in recessed lighting, pot lights, dimmers or in track lighting. Mine was installed in a normal light socket. I bought these at Wal-Mart. I will be removing all the Globe bulbs from my house. CFL bulbs are a great energy saver but make sure you buy a name brand like Sylvania, Phillips or GE and not the ones from China.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Is the Tea Party Ducking Social Conservative Issues?

There is broad agreement among Tea Partiers on issues of the economy, jobs, fiscal responsibility, Obamacare and adherence to the Constitution, especially in regard to cutting government spending. However, rifts in this coalition become apparent when the major cause of current government overspending and future insolvency, entitlement spending (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid), is considered for modifications that would produce real savings and sustainable entitlements.

Similarly, there does not appear to be as wide-spread support among Tea Partiers for a good number of constitutional issues that don’t involve commerce, fiscal matters, and smaller government, including many so-called conservative “social issues”. A good number of Tea Partiers believe that other priorities must take precedence at this time when our nation is in an extreme economic/fiscal crisis and the fact that our judicial system and leaders in Washington are moving the country away from our traditional constitutional republic towards a totalitarian and redistributionist “nanny” state.

Many, even members of the Tea Party movement, have been critical of other Tea Partiers expressing their belief that social issues should also be addressed. While I may not agree with all that’s said on social issues, I do commend anyone who stands up for freedom, the Constitution and other Tea Party values, and I stand fully behind their right to speak their mind as dictated by their conscience. Any honest person understands that no one person or group speaks for the entirety of the Tea Party movement. It is the Left that seeks to silence any opposition voice. There is no place in the Tea Party, or for that matter, among any people believing in freedom, for suppression of differing or opposing ideas.

“Social issues” can indeed be controversial and divisive, as many of the primary principles espoused by the Tea Party movement can be; but being controversial or divisive does not make them any less valid. In addition, these issues are not foreign to rights expressed as God-given in the Declaration of Independence and confirmed in the Constitution. The Declaration of Independence speaks of the innate right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The Constitution puts into law the right to life, liberty and property, and that these rights cannot be limited in any way except by “due process”. Due process in consideration of the right to life is exemplified by the lengthy court process involved in the eventual execution of a person sentenced to death under the law. This kind of consideration, which we provide to the most evil of criminals, is entirely lacking in abortion, where the life of the innocent unborn is terminated without a hint of due process.

No one educated in the field of biology rejects the fact that, at fertilization, life begins with a full complement of genetic material that identifies the life as human. It is clear that at some point after fertilization and during gestation, this life becomes a living, breathing, self-aware and feeling person. Controversy surrounds the question of exactly when a human life becomes a person. Traditionally, life was thought to begin at “quickening” when the baby’s movements inside the womb are first felt by the mother, and personhood was thought to begin at birth.

Today, we know that life begins at fertilization, and that the fetus develops, in utero, qualities that confer personhood. With modern ultrasound we can see the fetus startle in response to a loud noise, some will be sucking their thumb, and during abortions the fetus is seen to grimace, scream, and recoil with physiologic pain responses to the operator’s probe. In addition, it is apparent that even the tiniest of premature infants in Newborn Intensive Care, are born with their own personalities and clear cut likes and dislikes, respond to parent’s faces and voices, and respond to positive and negative stimuli in an organized fashion.

The dialogue about abortion has been co-opted by those in favor of abortion by expressing the two predominant viewpoints as either “Pro-Life” or “Pro-Choice”. Since the choice they are talking about involves the willful termination of a life, the correct term for those who want to be able to choose abortion is “Pro-Death”. Abortion takes the life of a human being based solely on the interests of a second party, the pregnant woman, without any regard for the baby’s rights. The aborted baby is denied his right to life, his right to enjoy liberty, inheritance rights he may have had to property, and his right to pursue his own happiness, all without due process. Both Pro-Life and Pro-Death sentiments continue to run hotly among the American people, and controversy surrounding abortion is unlikely to diminish over time. Abortion is very much a constitutional issue that involves the freedoms of everyone and cannot be ignored.

Gay activists insist on special rights and recognition that are contrary to many peoples’ religious views. These activists want to change the definition of marriage, force full fellowship with organizations that are opposed to the gay lifestyle, and silence “hate speech”, which includes reading scripture or preaching in church against the destructive gay lifestyle. Gay activists want to be able to “marry” the same-sex partner they love, and that gay “family” to be recognized and appreciated the same as traditional marriage between and man and a woman with a real family. These activists claim that all they want is equal rights, when they already have equal rights and what they are asking for is special or “more-equal rights”.

In conformance with the Constitution and most state laws, all citizens have the freedom to marry someone of the opposite sex, while no one has the freedom to “marry” someone of the same sex. There is no inequality inherent in these laws. There are many established cultural norms (often founded on religious beliefs) written into law, that few responsible adults would question.

For example, adults do not have the right to marry or have sex with a child, even if they love each other and the child or family give their consent. Adults do not have the right to marry a sibling or parent. Adults do not have the right to marry or have sex with animals. This fully conforms with the “equal protection clause” of the Constitution, with Natural Law upon which the Constitution is based, and with thousands of years of multi-cultural tradition that has worked successfully to preserve and sustain society and culture.

Another example is adoption agencies that hold religious beliefs that oppose gay adoption and raising children in that environment, being forced to allow gay adoption or cease doing adoptions. This is a violation of the constitutional rights of free association, free speech and the freedom to practice one’s religion without government interference. The Left also seeks to nullify or restrict the constitutional right to free speech by suppressing any views that oppose the current administration, the right to “keep and bear arms” (where keep means possess and store and bear means carry, display and use), and the right to work free of union control if so chosen by the workers with a secret ballot and without intimidation. While these anti-Constitution attacks do not deal directly with the economy, jobs or fiscal responsibility, the persistent assault on liberty cannot be ignored and must be countered.

Once the country is back on the path to restoration of economic/fiscal and governmental constitutional practices and principles, these social issues will need to be addressed with some urgency. Basic human inalienable rights can be put on the back burner only so long and at great risk to freedom. True freedom and our Constitution cannot exist if some in the country are more free than others and where any constitutionally guaranteed rights are abridged.