Friday, April 22, 2011

More carrots, less sticks

Today is Earth Day. In honor of the occasion, I'm going to throw out (er, compost?) an environmental topic that I've been hoarding for later use.

Everyone's hopping on the ban wagon these days. They seem to be obsessed with "banning" environmentally unfriendly products like single-use plastic bags, bottled water, and incandescent light bulbs.

Energy efficiency seems good, but banning energy inefficiency is the wrong approach!

People don't like to be oppressed. Wouldn't it be a lot more sensible to hype the incentives of using eco-friendly stuff, but still make the ucky stuff available for those who really want them? Energy efficient lighting should be something that everyone should want! If they don't want it, it's probably because they aren't fully aware of the benefits.

Or they actually have a legitimate use for the old inefficient technology. What about heat lamps, whose sole function is to waste energy through heat loss? What about sunrise alarm clocks, which rely on the dimmability of incandescent bulbs to wake their users up in the morning? (I've heard they make dimmable CFL's but they work like crap.) Although the US didn't outright ban incandescent lights as some countries have done, they have instituted stringent energy requirements that today's bulbs can't meet.

In my opinion, governments should spend less effort banning things that are supposedly "bad" and spend more effort educating people about why "good" things are good.

Until our lawmakers come to their senses, though (or until light bulb manufacturers make an energy efficient bulb with light output proportional to power input), I'm just going to have to build up a stockpile of incandescent bulbs before 2012 rolls around.


Tariq said...

I couldn't agree with you more; bans are totally the wrong approach to almost every problem. It reminds me of a quote:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes be satiated: but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis