Friday, March 19, 2010

Just Keep Talking

David Suzuki is proof that you don't have to be right. You just have to keep saying the same things over and over again.

As a thirty-something individual, I remember occasionally watching The Nature of Things as a kid. (Obviously that was a long time ago.) And even then, at what was possibly the height of my love for sciences and the animal kingdom, I seldom enjoyed his program. Now that I'm a bit older, I think perhaps I understand why.

A couple of years ago I became curious about the lifespan of Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs). I primarily wondered because of manufacturing costs. It's quite simple. Take an ordinary incandescent bulb and look at its construction. Glass, a bit of metal, an inert gas, insulating material, a couple of other minor materials. Now look at a CFL. It's almost (kinda) the same thing, multiplied by three or four times the amounts. Plus, we have the addition of mercury - always used when Mr. Suzuki first began his crusade - a circuit board, and electronics.

Before I continue, yes, I know. We're trying to conserve electricity. But have you asked Why? Hmmm. "You think that's air you're breathing?"

The individuals attempting to sell you nuclear power as a good alternative (e.g., Mr. Short-Term Thinking himself, Dalton) have erroneously omitted one or two key details. First, nuclear is hideously, mind-bogglingly expensive. Especially when you have the likes of Hydro One and their Union Masters running the show.

Rabbit Trail:
If ever there was a crown corporation which should be cleaned out and rebuilt from the bottom up, it's Hydro One. I understand that they are deeply entrenched in society with multiple layers of "I'll scratch your back if...", but that doesn't absolve inexcusably pathetic resource management. (No privatisation, please. It's a cop-out of financial obligations. Isn't it, Mr. McGuinty?)

Back to costs. I've heard bits and pieces about restructuring nuclear as a means of employing laid-off workers and the like. From where? Well, let's see. Primary nuclear power in Ontario is based near .... General Motors. So, who's going to be employed, assuming they are "skilled"? Oh, that's right. Union workers with a deeply entrenched "The world owes me a fat paycheque because I breath its air" mentality. Certainly just coincidence, one of the many fascinating pieces to the puzzle.

And that brings us nicely to the burning question of population. Even with an issue this contentious, a valid question is raised. If the world's population - outside of Western Caucasians who have reached a sufficient level of comfort to stop having children - continues to rise and emigrate, we are facing an electricity shortage based on current lifestyle and infrastructure.

So, what's a government to do? The population has abdicated responsibility for anything not directly related to cheeseburgers and/or gossip. Plus, we can't resort to the only source of clean, fiscally-responsible electricity available, hydro-electric, because it requires rivers that three people have seen in the last 50 years, and this angers the environmentalists who aren't ever going to see the river. No, it's far safer, politically, to just keep the numbers, and the issue of where to hide nuclear waste, as quiet as possible while kissing babies, shaking hands, and promising to squeeze sunshine out of your ass.

Against this backdrop of complexity and our futile arguments, David Suzuki began to push hard for CFL usage, among other responsible, mis-researched behaviours. Incidentally, I'm not here to dispute his right to exist. The man has a cause and he's found a platform - just don't disagree with him. Besides, incandescent bulbs do waste the greater part of their supplied electricity: let's find a better alternative. But it's intriguing to me that he started to push when and how he did.

My internal questioning on the manufacturing process of CFL vs. Incandescent got to the point where I started researching. Lo and behold, I found an independent university study on the very matter. To make a long story short, the study concluded that in optimal circumstances, the lifespan of CFLs was long enough to overcome the greatly increased cost and resource-consumption. I.E. it's worth buying CFLs. But, what are optimal circumstances? At the time of this study, because improvements are ongoing, a CFL which was turned on and left on for less than 15 minutes at a time began to dramatically shorten its lifespan. So much so, that a CFL in a hallway or bathroom would barely outlast a general-use incandescent. That's not good, not good at all. Especially when we are constantly being reprimanded for leaving the lights on. But who's going to keep track of 15 minutes? It's easier to just say, "Turn the lights off," than it is to explain reality or balance. Perhaps balance would dictate using a mixture of old and new while developments continue, but that seems so disappointingly mundane in comparison to trumpeting a "prophetic" message of profound earth-saving.

Balance and using your brain are boring and difficult in comparison to vegging in front of The Nature of Things.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, it's pretty sharp and even harsh, I know. But, if a person can't disagree strongly, then how boring would life become?


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