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This is a page from the original version of Pagan Vigil. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at

Hidden costs in the popular environmental movement

I find this one symbolic of most of the current environmental movement. Emphasis added.

There's an old joke about the number of people it takes to change a light bulb. But because the newer energy-efficient kinds contain tiny amounts of mercury, the hard part is getting rid of them when they burn out.

Mercury is poisonous, but it's also a necessary part of most compact fluorescent bulbs,
the kind that environmentalists and some governments are pushing as a way to cut energy use.

With an estimated 150 million CFLs sold in the United States in 2006 and with Wal-Mart alone hoping to sell 100 million this year, some scientists and environmentalists are worried that most are ending up in garbage dumps.

Engineering is about tradeoffs. It's possible to make a car that gets a hundred miles to the gallon, but it will have no mass to protect the driver and won't be able to do the start-and-stop driving that most need. You could bury your home under fifteen feet of dirt and maintain it's temperature year round, but good luck getting natural light. You can make the desert bloom, but the water has to come from somewhere.

It's all about tradeoffs.

And no, I am not talking about carbon offsets.

Demand that the U.S. reduce it's carbon emissions to pre-1990 levels and there will be economic consequences, especially if not all nations have to reduce. Dump agricultural waste in a handy river and people downstream can't use the water. Raise the price of gasoline and one of the first things that suffers is shipments of fresh vegetables and fruit.

So now people realize that the bulbs that use less energy cost more to manufacture and discard. When the emphasis is on "saving energy," the other expenses are overlooked.

What tradeoffs are you willing to make?

Posted: Thu - March 29, 2007 at 12:52 PM 

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