My home office where I write these words is lit by a somewhat worthless antique of the new millennium – the Compact Fluorescent Lamp, or CFL. They were installed before I entered the building.
More than a decade ago, we all bought CFL’s and in they went when our old incandescent bulbs burned out. The giants of industry, like General Electric, managed to persuade much of the world that by converting to CFL’s we would be helping to save the planet. They required substantially less electricity, and they lasted a lot longer. Yes, they were more expensive, but we would all be saving money in the long run.
We were told to ‘get with the program’ because the old incandescents would soon not be made. Indeed they might be outlawed. Did I mention that most CFL’s were made in China? That should maybe have been our first clue that we had been sold the equivalent of the infamous left-handed monkey wrench. It turned out that many of the claims that were made about CFL’s were rather exaggerated, and in some cases just not true.
On Groundhog Day a year ago, General Electric announced rather quietly that compact fluorescent bulbs would no longer be made. One of the problems was the danger of mercury being spilled in CFL’s that were broken, but so far no one has suggested how we might dispose of the millions of them that were sold.
Meanwhile, the old incandescents are still available, but the hucksters of the lighting world are now promoting LED’s – which stands for light-emitting diodes. They are supposed to deliver everything that the CFL’s promised and more, but given recent experience, some of us are a bit skeptical.
Now, who’s going to start that much-needed museum for obsolete products that seemed like a good idea at the time? Let’s see, besides the CFL, it would house the Betamax, the VCR, the 8-track tape player, and perhaps the overly eager environmental capitalist.
I’m Roger Currie