Friday, October 17, 2008
Easy Start, Surprising Result
It's so simple to effect a meaningful change in the use of energy, that it's hard to understand why it could present as a difficulty to encourage people to take the step to do just that. As simple as changing a light-bulb. Mind, there are more than enough jokes going the rounds about the difficulty of changing light bulbs, for those for whom the bulb just doesn't light.
In any event, it's little surprise that there are so many in the developed world who have assuaged their consciences by doing that; changing lightbulbs. From traditional incandescent to compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Which are so astoundingly more efficient that it makes the difference between night and day. Which lightbulbs are wont to do.
The Worldwatch Institute, located in Washington, D.C., estimates a worldwide carbon dioxide saving of 16.6 billion tonnes in two decades with the use of fluorescent lamps. Which represents double the amount of dioxides released in the United States alone, in 2006. Far less pollution entering the atmosphere and in the process, saving energy.
Hard to believe, but according to Worldwatch, lighting generates over 1,500 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, using in total about 19% of energy usage from the power grid. No one would willingly return to the days of candlelight, but reducing usage to that extent through the simple medium of replacing a light bulb does turn back the clock on energy wastage.
There are those who bemoan the passing of incandescent lightbulbs, claiming that the cold light of CFLs is a poor replacement, hard on the eyes and unbeautiful to behold. But then that too is in the eyes of the beholder; I've never found them to be anything less than useful and practical; the light they throw is great, in fact.
There's the little drawback of their containing a minuscule amount of mercury, so they have to be disposed accordingly, as toxic waste. But they last infinitely longer than the traditional incandescent bulb. Mind, in northern climes, some complain that the old incandescents, in their wasteful energy use, also offered warmth, which the compact fluorescents don't, but that's a quibble.
CFLs utilize roughly 75% less energy, and still produce the same amount of light as incandescent bulbs. They're more expensive initially, but since they last incredibly long, and they save money/energy, they more than make up for the differential, and quickly.
Canada is the second country - Australia the first - to outright ban the sale of most incandescent bulbs, although the ban won't begin until the year 2012, giving everyone the opportunity to catch up to practicality and reality. The European Union too now plans to phase out incandescents.
And now worldwide, about forty countries have joined the measure to save energy. We're getting there