Happy New Year to you, loyal RWN readers. Today I’d like to talk about Conservatism, and, more specifically, the lack thereof demonstrated by our own “Conservative” Federal Government as of late, especially when it comes to the appeasement of small-interest eco-extremists. But first, let me start with a joke.
Q: How many Conservatives does it take to screw up a light bulb? A: I don’t see any Conservatives here at all…drum roll…curtains fall.
Conservatism, basically, is defined as “a political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes” 1, or, more cogently put, “a set of beliefs which, in general, tend to support (1) free enterprise capitalism, (2) continuation of traditions, (3) minimal government intervention in economy, (4) strict law and order enforcement, and (5) gradual change as opposed to radical reform”. 2 In other words, true Conservatism is opposed to impulsive sweeping change, especially in relation to a free enterprise or the economy.
Which brings us to Jan. 1, 2014. The Canadian Government followed through on the April 25, 2007 promise to phase out, of all things, the traditional incandescent light bulb. The Federal Government actively decided to meddle not only with free enterprise, but also with tradition, bringing about a radical change to a modern cornerstone. An invention that has served mankind since the late 1800’s, the filament bulb is now, allegedly, a nefarious environmental villain. Yes, Edison’s seminal invention will be joining other, once brilliant, innovations on the scrap heap. Like, to name a few, the full 13 Litre tank flush-toilet (a ban proposed in Ontario) or the “very progressive” twist doorknob building code ban in Vancouver, 3 (implemented November 2013 to enable the elderly). The light bulb is now destined to be replaced with newer innovations, much like the eco-toilets that refuse to flush solids and the door handles that snag belt loops and coat pockets.
In a desperate attempt to save face and to disguise the foolishness of this very un-Conservative move, the Canadian Government “decided to allow consumers, as well as the lighting industry, [time] to prepare for the new standards, and introduced a phase-out rather than an all-out ban”. 4 The phase out demanded the discontinuation of 75 and 100 watt bulbs, and by the year end promises to conclude with the elimination of 40 and 60 watt bulbs. How considerate and thoughtful of our handlers! In everyone’s best interests the Nanny State is now guiding the public at large towards consumer virtue, it seems. And what planning genius, this gradual implementation of the ban! Remindful of the frog being slowly boiled to death rather than suddenly exposed to high heat, the citizens of Canada will similarly take no action until the change is complete.
To understand the rationale behind the sudden move, we must think back to the now defunct Kyoto Protocol. The Protocol was “an international treaty that set binding obligations on industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases … [with] the goal of preventing dangerous anthropogenic (i.e., human-induced) interference of the climate system”. 5
In other words, Kyoto sought to reign in greenhouse gas emissions through a series of gradual constraints, proposed targets and reinforcing penalties.
A rather costly venture, the Kyoto Protocol was a bureaucratic nightmare never fully adhered to by any nation involved (as if that were even possible). After committing to the Protocol (Canada signed the accord in 1998 and ratified it in 2002), it quickly became apparent that a drastic mistake had been made. Consistently unable to meet targets, the Canadian Government accrued an estimated $14 billion in penalties; a sum that would have cost every Canadian family approximately $1800 (¿?!) 5b To the Conservative Governments’ credit, In December 2011 the plug was pulled on Kyoto. It was decided that Canada would no longer “attempt to reach its Kyoto targets because it was impossible to reach them”. 6
And yet, as impossible as the mission was, the means are still being pursued to the present day. Like some somnambulist in a gonzo German Expressionist film, the Canadian Government is still staggering forward with tactics designed to appease the now extinct Kyoto Governing Body (UNFCCC). In case you’re wondering, the light bulb played a strategic role in Canada’s agenda to meet the Kyoto targets. “Facing immense pressure to get on board with the Kyoto Protocol and reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, [John] Baird and company looked for an easy fix that would earn them some green street cred”. 7 The light bulb ‘phase out’ seemed a simple solution with proven results in places like Cuba, where the collapsing electrical grid was faltering beneath the most basic requirements of the populace. Because imitating a defunct communist dystopia is the highest form of flattery apparently.
Most people, when asked about the matter, seem unconcerned by the implementation of the ‘phase out’ (indeed, most seem not to have heard about it at all). Many, when made aware that the development is underway, are initially shocked, but then quickly take it ‘in stride’ and move on. “What’s the big deal?” most say, “there are still plenty of options out there… it’s not like they’ve banned all light bulbs”. The vast majority seem to think that there must surely be adequate justification behind it all, that it’s probably good for the environment and therefore it must have been somehow warranted. A recent poll discovered “Only four in 10 consumers are aware that the most popular light bulbs in [North America] will be phased out next year as production of the products ends on Jan. 1, 2014”. 8
What the four out of 10 likely don’t know, and what makes the ‘phase out’ truly absurd, is the fact that the alternatives to the common bulb are in many cases far worse for the environment than the original device’s alleged inefficiency. Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFL’s) contain, on average, 4 to 5 milligrams (mg) of mercury—enough to cover the tip of a ballpoint pen. Should you break a CFL, here are a few of the EPA’s recommendations:
- Don’t touch the CFL contents without protective gloves.
- Escort all children, pregnant women, and pets out of the room. Next, open doors and windows for 5-10 minutes to air out the room. Turn off the heating or AC system and leave off, if possible, for several hours.
- Collect the residue using stiff paper, sticky tape, and damp towels. Seal all in a glass jar with metal lid or in a sealable plastic bag. Do not vacuum up the residue, as it may spread the mercury-containing powder into the air.
- Clothes you are wearing should not be washed, but double-bagged for disposal.
- Store the broken pieces and residue in an outdoor trash container until “the materials can be disposed of properly.”
According to the EPA, the only proper method of disposal for broken CFLs is to take them to a hazardous waste facility. 9 The irony of replacing the light bulb for reasons of ‘environmental preservation’ with a new bulb requiring hazardous waste treatment should not be lost upon anyone.
CFL’s are costly, are proven to exacerbate migraine headaches 10, and emit harmful ultraviolet radiation (it is not recommended that these bulbs be used in close proximity to skin, having been proven to cause cellular damage). “Ultraviolet radiation can leak through cracks in the phosphor coating of compact fluorescent light bulbs and, in turn, potentially damage otherwise healthy human skin cells” 11.
LED lighting, while safer (they contain no seriously harmful chemicals and have no evacuation procedure accompanying their breakage), is also problematic. LED lights have no capability for dimming (for lamps that employ a dimmer switch), suffer from “efficiency drooping” (become progressively less bright during their lifespan), and are incredibly costly (approximately three times the cost of an ordinary incandescent bulb). LED lights are also often criticized for their color quality, which relies highly on the purity of their phosphor content and CRI (colour rendering index) of the bulb; the higher the purity, the higher the cost.
So here’s the upshot: the whole incandescent initiative is replete with baloney and the light bulb ‘phase out’ is a sham. Once more the Canadian Government is pandering to the lowest common denominator — Liberal activists and green agitators. Once more these groups will be unimpressed and critical of the Conservatives’ efforts. Always on the wrong side of every argument, these Liberals appetite for complaining cannot be sated. Once they have fought and won a certain concession, they simply move on and start demonstrating for a new, equally inane cause.
But the real reason I find this movement troubling, and the reason I cannot simply dismiss it (as many others appear to have) is that Big Government really has no business banning any product, much less the common light bulb. Once the precedent has been set, and a seemingly commonplace ban is put into effect without so much as a whimper from the masses, the slippery slope is set underfoot. Next we will be seeing bans on certain appliances, on vehicles, on travel destinations and distances. Anything can be targeted in the name of conserving energy. Once it becomes the duty of the nanny state to decide what can and cannot be purchased, the free market will falter and capitalism will be eroded. When free citizens are stripped of their independence and ability to make rational decisions, choice is gradually eliminated. On and on it will go until one day our liberty is eradicated and we will find ourselves wearing drab ‘Vinalon’ uniforms 12.
I myself intend to resist the ban and plan to buy at least 20 years of bulbs before the ‘phase out’ is complete. I much prefer ‘old-fashioned’ incandescent light and refuse to be controlled. I have signed the petition to eliminate the ban and suggest that every Canadian Patriot opposed to creeping tyranny consider signing it forthwith also: