How many environmentalists does it take to change a light bulb?

Ethel C. Fenig
How many pretentious, earth hating, fear mongering Al Gore acolytes does it take to screw in an expensive, difficult to use, harsh, erratic and often dangerous light bulb?  So many that the ever shrinking New York Times wasted valuable earth insensitive ink and destroyed trees for paper to print two articles last Friday discussing the issue.  They also conveniently placed them online. 
 
One article seriously asked  "Do New Bulbs Save Energy If They Don't Work?"  Duh!!  Ok, wise New York Times readers, the answer is no--and they also waste money because frustrated users will resort to candles, thereby depleting oxygen and increasing the danger of fire.  However, in all fairness, the paper felt compelled to ask the question because
 
 a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don'ts.  (snip) Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.
 
Yes, indeed, in these complicated times no more simply buying a light bulb, screwing it in and turning on the switch.  Now, in the ultimate how many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb joke, today's bulbs require a college graduate reading ability to interpret the warnings and instructions that accompany each bulb; the extensive written material often requires more elaborate packing with more earth unfriendly--according to environmentalists--plastic and cardboard.  And so, in a second article, helpfully titled "Tips for Using Compact Fluorescent Bulbs," the NY Times distills the collected compact fluorescent bulb wisdom from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, Consumer Reports, and the government (your) tax supported Energy Star program and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Yep, all these institutions--and more--are needed to teach the average citizen how to use the new energy saving bulbs.
 
One handy tip:  These so called environmentally friendly light bulbs can be extremely damaging to your health ; they contain mercury, a dangerous substance for humans.
 
If you break a bulb, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends precautions to avoid mercury exposure: Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape, and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything into a sealed plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash, but the E.P.A. recommends checking local rules.
 
So keep those nasty plastic bags handy.  Or stock up and use regular incandescent bulbs.  In the long run they just might be cheaper.  And safer.  And more environmentally friendly. 

 


How many pretentious, earth hating, fear mongering Al Gore acolytes does it take to screw in an expensive, difficult to use, harsh, erratic and often dangerous light bulb?  So many that the ever shrinking New York Times wasted valuable earth insensitive ink and destroyed trees for paper to print two articles last Friday discussing the issue.  They also conveniently placed them online. 
 
One article seriously asked  "Do New Bulbs Save Energy If They Don't Work?"  Duh!!  Ok, wise New York Times readers, the answer is no--and they also waste money because frustrated users will resort to candles, thereby depleting oxygen and increasing the danger of fire.  However, in all fairness, the paper felt compelled to ask the question because
 
 a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don'ts.  (snip) Consumers are posting vociferous complaints on the Internet after trying the bulbs and finding them lacking.
 
Yes, indeed, in these complicated times no more simply buying a light bulb, screwing it in and turning on the switch.  Now, in the ultimate how many (fill in the blank) does it take to screw in a light bulb joke, today's bulbs require a college graduate reading ability to interpret the warnings and instructions that accompany each bulb; the extensive written material often requires more elaborate packing with more earth unfriendly--according to environmentalists--plastic and cardboard.  And so, in a second article, helpfully titled "Tips for Using Compact Fluorescent Bulbs," the NY Times distills the collected compact fluorescent bulb wisdom from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, Consumer Reports, and the government (your) tax supported Energy Star program and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Yep, all these institutions--and more--are needed to teach the average citizen how to use the new energy saving bulbs.
 
One handy tip:  These so called environmentally friendly light bulbs can be extremely damaging to your health ; they contain mercury, a dangerous substance for humans.
 
If you break a bulb, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends precautions to avoid mercury exposure: Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape, and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything into a sealed plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash, but the E.P.A. recommends checking local rules.
 
So keep those nasty plastic bags handy.  Or stock up and use regular incandescent bulbs.  In the long run they just might be cheaper.  And safer.  And more environmentally friendly.