Sunday, November 06, 2011

What a good idea!

This really makes me angry. You should be angry too...

Every time I shop at a home improvement store these days I make sure to buy incandescent light bulbs. Oh, yeah, and I make sure they are Sylvania brand too. The days of finding these on store shelves in America are numbered.

The ordinary light bulb symbolizes the human race coming out of the dark ages, literally. The light bulb is birth of modernity. Just as the light bulb symbolizes mankind coming out of the darkness the U.S. epitomizes the modern technological world. Soon, the ordinary incandescent light bulb will be banned in the U.S. - a dark day indeed.

What this all means is a huge boost to China and the American firms that will complete the Chinese takeover of this industry. All this is happening with the blessing AND the help of the U.S Treasury Department. Perennial light bulb maker GE is already in China making bulbs after having closed it's last U.S. plant in 2010 and laid off many American workers. It's a shocker, I know. In the name of a greener world other major U.S. firms are bankrolling the Chinese lighting industry. And here we thought President Obama's chief  go-forward strategy was fostering a green everything industry.

To be fair to the President the seeds of this were sown long before his time in the White House, but he certainly was a part of the Democratically controlled Congress in 2007 when the Federal law was passed to ban the incandescent bulb. Regardless of the timing it is the notion that there is a concerted effort to build this industry in China with Federal government and United Nations backing. Enter the gigantic investment house Goldman Sachs and networking powerhouse Cisco Systems and a juggernaut is born.

The altruistic underpinnings of this project like all "green" efforts isn't helpful when American and other western workers are thrown out of their jobs. Here the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), which invests in projects that can produce global environmental benefits is spearheading this project. Yes, the U.S. Treasury is a major funder for the GEF. This is being done as an environmental benefit by reducing China's carbon dioxide emissions and thereby benefiting the whole planet. So, I guess the ends justify the means and the means is destroying yet another domestic industry.

This new project backed by the aforementioned investors builds on a previous, $26 million GEF/UNDP pilot project, known as the China Green Lights project. That project was a roaring success for the environment and for China. The claim that it saves 15.78 billion kilowatt hours of energy, worth about $986 million to consumers, and, using dubious calculating methods is supposed to have kept 6.8 million tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. All is well. Nevermind that it threw thousands of Americans out of work and shuttered numerous factories.

The fact that the incandescent bulb is being replaced by an inferior and possible dangerous product - the compact fluorescent bulb  - is the just one part of this story that gets the dander up.That they are made primarily in China is the kicker. Perhaps the inevitability of the end of the lowly incandescent bulb was to be expected, but the destruction of an industry in order to force us to buy inferior foreign products is just wrong.

The LED light bulb is making a move.Currently they are expensive, but they are far more efficient, safer and at least for now they are being made in America where they are exported to China. Small victories I guess.



Peter T said...

RE light bulb regulations,

apart from product choice and safety issues,
the actual savings are not that great anyway =

less than 1% of overall energy use, and 1-2% grid electricity is saved
from banning the bulbs, as shown by USA Dept of Energy and other official
with alternative and meaningful ways to save energy in generation, distribution or consumption

Regulation informatio­n links, and updates on repeal ban bills in 7 US
states (legislate­d Texas)