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Inefficient Isn't Always Evil

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  critique environment ethics health policy

5 min read | 1463 words | 519 views | 0 comments

There's no shortage of articles about the messed-up things happening in today's world. Here's the headline of an article of an article from last month:

California's light bulb ban

According to the article, "The California Energy Commission voted on November 13, 2019 to ban the sale of inefficient light bulbs starting January 1, 2020."

OK, interesting enough. Even if the national government hadn't already done something similar, incandescent bulbs are certainly hard enough to find in some places, which is why, for good reason, a lot of people have or are stockpiling them.

What is annoying here is not the ban in and of itself. Although environmental legislation is usually a good thing, sometimes it goes too far. Case in point: the black market for toilets. In the U.S., it's illegal to sell toilets that flush more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Unfortunately, for the sake of "water conservation", this means more frequently clogged toilets. Many people look to demolition companies to get vintage toilets, or cross the border and buy their toilets in Canada. If this sounds bizarre, consider that pre-1982 toilets typically are 5-7 gallons per flush (GPF), and even those manufactured between 1982 and 1990 have a decent 3.5 GPF. Sure, high-efficiency toilets may not be a problem all the time, but when they are, it's a real PITA (somewhat literally). I'm not entirely against high-efficiency toilets — those who want them should be able to acquire them — but making them mandatory leaves a sour taste in many people's mouths, mine included.

Like with toilets, lighting is another area where "high-efficiency" tends to mean "to be avoided". Like high-efficiency toilets, high-efficiency lighter is of drastically lower quality and while high-efficiency toilets may not be worse for your health (unless you're bending over with a plunger so much you have back problems), high-efficiency lighting certainly is. CFL and LED lighting poses many known and well-documented health hazards. As with health effects from wireless, this tends to be denied and covered up as if it were some kind of conspiracy by those who profit from the technology. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), it's not conspiracy: it's plain science.

I said the ban in and of itself is not what's most annoying here. Those of us who want "real" toilets already buy them on the black market, because our government screwed up in 1994. Congress apparently didn't realize that clogged toilets at the expense of water conservation is one of those drastic environmental measures that sounds like a good idea in theory but isn't in practice. Likewise, a ban on inefficient lighting sounds like a good idea (at least to a naive person) until you realize that CFL lighting contains mercury, emits RF radiation (not to mention UV radiation), the color is simply appalling, and LED lighting has been documented to flicker, cause seizures, and also emit RF radiation. Both create dirty electricity and both are a poor conscious for health-conscious individuals. Not to mention incandescent lighting emits beneficial infrared radiation. Using incandescent lighting, like avoiding wireless, is simply common-sense holistic living. There's a reason why health-conscious individuals swear by incandescent lighting. (Actually, lots of reasons.)

LED lamps are a form of digital non-thermal lighting whereas incandescent light bulbs and halogens are analog thermal light sources. — Mercola

Hey, the sun is a thermal and inefficient light source, too! Maybe we should ban it you know, for efficiency's sake?

Inefficient doesn't mean bad. At least, not always. Inefficient is bad when there are better alternatives that don't compromise on things as basic as usability and human health. High-efficiency toilets impede usability and high-efficiency lighting impairs health. Incandescent bulbs are the highest-quality bulbs there are. Purely because of their low efficiency, some legislators with a feel-good ego would rather have us all lighting with significant health consequences and terrible light quality. What they don't realize is that not everyone is a blind, mindless robot that follows the law. Some people prefer to think for themselves, and some of us will insist on the highest-quality products — even if they're inefficient, even if they have to be gotten on the black market. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Efficiency legislation in industry sometimes makes sense. But enforcing efficiency standards in the basic things consumers buy sometimes doesn't, and this is one of those times. Instead of us artificially, and with no sound reason, forcing people attempting to force people to use inferior products, why not actually create better ones and let supply and demand create a naturally more efficient lighting market? Why not invest in R&D for creating a more efficient incandescent light bulb? After all, that's where the halogen bulb came from. Unfortunately, halogen bulbs have their own drawbacks. Great — let's keep researching for a better one, then. That's what Americans do. They don't throw in the towel and settle for some inferior, unusable piece of crap, even if it's "efficient".

To be clear, if you don't value your health and couldn't care less if your toilet gets clogged or your light bulbs pollutes your wiring with dirty electricity or if your lighting flickers — use efficient toilets and efficient lighting — more power to you. I suspect that's probably most people, since most people use wireless devices, which are even more toxic than energy-efficient lighting. But not all of us are willing to compromise in that manner.

Finally, what really is most annoying here is that the California Energy Commission does meaningless things like ban incandescent bulbs, even though incandescent bulbs are actually the "good guys". They're the victims, not the problem. And while the California Energy Commission bans energy-efficient lighting so they look good in the newspaper and get reelected by ignorant citizens, the FCC and other three-letter agencies refuse to do essentially anything about the world's most significant health crisis: low-frequency, non-ionizing radiation from wireless devices, like mobiles, Wi-Fi, and cell towers. And let's put aside the health consequences for a moment and focus on energy: wireless is incredibly inefficient. Wi-Fi users more energy than regular, wired connections, and cellular connections use a lot more: "3G traffic uses 15 times more energy than Wi-Fi, while 4G consumes 23 times more". That's not even factoring in the enormous amounts of energy used in the manufacturing process of compact electronics that consumers indulge in today and quickly become obsolete. If you want to go green, use paper.

Inefficiency isn't evil when there are better alternatives. And for wireless, there are! Landlines offer superior call quality, reliability, more features*, and better security compared to mobiles, while Ethernet connections provide faster, more secure, and more reliable network connections and Internet connectivity. Go figure. The world would be worse off without incandescent bulbs and better off with no mobiles. Give 'em the axe, and we save energy (and people's lives, too!).

*I'm not talking about the ability to send emojis or download porn, I'm referring to actual phone related features. What a concept!

And now, while California is insulting light bulbs, the FCC is pushing 5G, which will result in even more energy-inefficiency and devastating health consequences. 5G is probably the most stupid and idiotic anything the government has ever promoted: while other countries are banning it, the U.S. is acting like nothing's wrong and going full speed ahead. (Gotta love American denial.) Along with the UK, Canada, and Australia, we're usually the last country in the world to acknowledge health consequences from just about anything. It's not surprising (though still concerning) that it's no different with 5G.

What's most frustrating is that while the California Energy Commission tackles relatively minor issues in a meaningless and harmful way, the government is doing absolutely nothing about monster and killer technologies like cell phones, Wi-Fi, cell towers. Rather than, say, banning cellular technology, governments choose to ban quality light bulbs instead. Rather than banning 5G, like wiser European countries are doing, or banning cell phones in schools, like wiser European countries are doing, or banning Wi-Fi in classrooms, like wiser European countries are doing, the government choose to be in bed with the wireless industry, and allows build-out of 5G technology to go out unimpeded, making it, once again, the job of environmental activists to put all other things aside and rush to stop the government from decimating us and the environment. Thanks, Uncle Sam. I really knew you could do your job!

The article says "the decision could potentially still be reversed. Two lighting association filed a lawsuit over California's ban and also filed a petition to stop the restrictions from taking effect on January 1, 2020." Unfortunately, the article was published December 4th, 2019, so who knows what's really become of that. Perhaps those in California who value having pure, clean, and "natural" lighting may just have to join the incandescent black market. If that's you, I'll see you there.

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