Dropped Like A Hot Light Bulb
What a hot topic the incandescent light bulb ban became in the run-up to the last election. It was held up as a key exhibit in the case against the Labour government with many people complaining that Labour’s intention to phase-out out incandescent bulbs typified their so-called ‘nanny state’ approach.
The Government promptly repealed the ban when they came into office. On the subject, Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee said the Government had “real concerns about telling people they have to move to energy-efficient light bulbs by decree…this Government believes it is a matter of consumer choice.” What? Governments have decreed things incessantly since the beginning of time, that’s what they exist for. The current Government would have no compunction about limiting choice if it suited their agenda so saying it is a matter of consumer choice is disingenuous. It also sends the signal that it’s individual choice for people to despoil the environment or not.
Many people don’t like being told what to do even when it’s good for them. Most of these people are teenagers! There seems to be plenty of others, though, who never grew up. Do these same people also rail against wearing seat belts, schooling their children, building safe houses and licensing firearms? Or is it just compact fluorescent light bulbs?
Consumer choice is ruining this planet.
Choice is not a right, especially if it opposes the greater good. Part of the role of any Government is to balance the sometimes-competing demands of individual rights and of the common good; thousands of regulations and laws exist to protect both. This balancing act is most difficult in cases where there are equal claims on both sides – there are plenty of cases like that but CFL use is not one.
CFLS are a ‘no-brainer’. Good CFLs use one-fifth the energy of an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light. This means their running cost is one fifth and their CO2 emissions are one fifth. They might cost several times more to purchase but they last several times longer. CFLs are now available in a wide variety of shapes (including globes), hues and brightness. Some models can be dimmed. They do contain mercury, which is a hazard, but this can be safely recycled. They will continue to get cheaper and better.
As well as making no sense on any level the Government’s about-turn on this initiative puts us that much more out of step with the rest of the world. Australia is planning to ban sales of incandescent light bulbs from next year and the UK is to start phasing them out too. In fact, the choice to buy incandescent bulbs is going to be reduced soon because China, which produces 70% of the world’s supply, is also planning to ban their use domestically.
We don’t need random leadership, we need strong leadership based on sustainability – namely looking after the needs of all of the people of today as well as the people of the future.