The EU have recently decreed that we've all got to stop buying ordinary incandescent light-bulbs and use expensive energy-saving ones instead. The Germans will gleefully explain to the rest of us why this is a good thing and they're right and we're wrong, the French will quietly ignore it, and the British government will just do what Brussels says as usual and in meticulous, nit-picking exhaustive detail with swingeing fines and prison sentences for any pensioners who forget or don't understand.
Those who are gullible and weak-minded enough to believe the preaching of the eco-Nazis about the imminent heat-death of the universe might like to think about this little story …
Brandy Bridges of Ellsworth, Maine, USA, bought one of these planet-saving environmentally friendly compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) for her daughter's bedroom. It cost $4.28.
Unfortunately while trying to screw it in she dropped it on the floor and it broke. Being a good little green lady she knew that CFLs contain potentially hazardous substances, and phoned her local Home Depot (American equivalent to B+Q, we think) for advice. The store told her that the CFL contained mercury and that she should call the Poison Control hotline, which in turn directed her to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The DEP sent a specialist to Bridges' house to test for mercury contamination. The specialist found mercury levels in the bedroom in excess of six times the state's "safe" level for mercury contamination and recommended that Bridges call an environmental cleanup firm, which gave her an estimate of $2,000 to clean up the room. The room was sealed off with plastic and work began.
Unfortunately, Brandy's insurance company wouldn't cover the cleanup costs because mercury is a pollutant, so she's got to find $2,004.28 herself. For one light bulb.
It's quite odd that environmentalists have embraced the CFL, which cannot now and will not in the foreseeable future be made without mercury. Usually, environmentalists want hazardous materials out of our homes, not in them. They don't even trust us to handle creosote for painting the fence. These are the same people who go berserk at the thought of mercury being emitted from power plants and the presence of mercury in seafood. Environmentalists have whipped up so much fear of mercury among the public that many local governments have even launched mercury thermometer exchange programs, and in the EU the barometer industry is in difficulty and barometer repairers are going out of business because of restrictions on mercury use.
One activist group, Environmental Defense, urges us to buy CFLs but elsewhere on its website defines mercury as a "highly toxic heavy metal that can cause brain damage and learning disabilities in foetuses and children" and "one of the most poisonous forms of pollution". Greenpeace also recommends CFLs while simultaneously bemoaning contamination caused by a mercury-thermometer factory in India. CFLs are made in India and China. Apparently it doesn't matter how many Indians and Chinese are exposed to noxious chemicals, so long as we in the West can hold our heads high in the knowledge that we're doing our bit to save the planet.
Not only are CFLs much more expensive than incandescent bulbs and emit light that many regard as inferior to incandescent bulbs, they pose a nightmare if they break and require special disposal procedures. And even if they don't break, how the hell are you supposed to get rid of them when they fail? I'll bet you any money the local council waste disposal site won't touch 'em!
No, there's only one answer. Follow Mrs.GOS's example and start stockpiling proper incandescent light bulbs now. The cupboard under our stairs is half full already.
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