Friday, February 23, 2007

The New Puritanism

I have been replacing incandescent bulbs in my house with these new curly flourescent things. I have done it because I do in fact believe it is good to reduce my carbon emission footprint.

I do believe it is very likely that humans are affecting the climate. On the general assumption that change is at least disruptive, I can see a case for trying to control that impact. So the bulbs seem a decent idea.

Except that they are utterly awful - they are sold with a claim of equivalence to a certain wattage of incandescent bulb and it is totally off. I am not sure why they have it so wrong. So I am still trying to find the right bulb balance. It totally pisses me off.

But I am at the same time amazed there are jurisdictions in which it will become impossible to get light bulbs that actually work! Or so I understand. I have heard that California and Australia will BAN incandescent bulbs.

This bothers me greatly. Surely the thing to do is allow all technologies to compete and punish the ones that cost a lot in terms of energy through making people pay for that energy use. BANNING incandescent bulbs has the result of shutting down research that might one day produce such bulbs FAR more efficient that the totally user-unfriendly pieces of crap that we call environmentally friendly flourescent bulbs.

This is in the end the problem with regulation. It entrenches today's inadequate problem solutions. The only way for people to get back to the right solutions will be black market incandescent trading ("Hey buddy, you got a light I can read to?"), and smuggling, and the like. One would have thought that at least decades of experience in these areas would spare us these totally stupid proposals, but it is clear our foolishness, at least as applied to public policy, just cannot give up.

In the end the regulators are driven less by logic than by their puritanism, and the sad fact it gives them pleasure to deny us decent light!


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