Monday, August 31, 2009

The rush to dim our lights

Howard M. Brandston, a lighting designer and artist, has a sensible, easy proposal for a test to use before we rush head long into dimming our lights with The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 which will effectively phase out incandescent light bulbs by 2012-2014 in favor of compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs.
    "Here's my modest proposal to determine whether the legislation actually serves people. Satisfy the proposed power limits in all public buildings, from museums, houses of worship and hospitals to the White House and the homes of all elected officials. Of course, this will include replacing all incandescents with CFLs. At the end of 18 months, we would check to be certain that the former lighting had not been reinstalled, and survey all users to determine satisfaction with the resulting lighting.

    Based on the data collected, the Energy Independence and Security Act and energy legislation still in Congress would be amended to conform to the results of the test. Or better yet, scrapped in favor of a thoughtful process that could yield a set of recommendations that better serve our nation's needs by maximizing both human satisfaction and energy efficiency." Full article
Ah yes, the old, "let's see if elected officials can comply with their hair-brained ideas" plan. They won't buy this very sensible plan of course, because they are usually exempt from the cost and pain of their own hasty and ill conceived plans--some of which like HR 3200 and the equally bulky cap and trade or TARP, never are even read before voting on them. HR 6 is worth reading in its entirety--your Senator probably didn't.

Here's an acronym you'll definitely need to watch: ESPC, energy savings performance contracts: "CBO estimates that H.R. 6 will increase direct spending by $582 million over the 2008-2012 period and reduce it by $85 million over the 2008-2017 period. Those effects result primarily from provisions that increase mandates related to the use of renewable motor fuels, require federal agencies to meet new goals related to the efficiency of energy and water use, extend and expand federal agencies’ authority to enter into energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs)." That phrase is definitely like giving a credit card to your ex-girlfriend for a shopping spree.

As I was looking through the CBO cost estimates in the agriculture sector, I wondered if these biomass requirements are what caused the starvation and food riots in developing countries in 2008 (see Green Body Count). Even liberal, pro-green editorials noted the problem. Oh well, what's a few million starving brown or black children in less developed countries? It's always "all about us" isn't it? We have no idea what the CFLs will do to the quality of life here or in China where they use dirty coal to produce them or to the environment, but we rush head first into the dark tunnel anyway, thanks to Congress. (Except for his very limited time in the Senate, this one can't be laid at Obama's feet.)

1 comment:

Marfis said...

On 8/31, you ask:"...what's a few million starving brown or black children in less developed countries?"
On 9/2, you want to deny the Mexican mother needed dialysis.

How do you reconcile these two apparently conflicting attitudes?