It’s over, done, kaput. The old-fashioned incandescent lightbulb has finally succumbed to the new green world order and is headed for extinction. This battle against the magical bulb that lit up homes and businesses for more than a century has been a long and winding road. But Thomas Edison’s* brilliant –and many say beautiful – light has lost not only the battle, but the war as well. One can’t help but wonder if we are all the poorer for it.
Feeling a bit Blue? Or is it Green?
On Tuesday, April 26, the Biden administration approved two new rules that will phase out the sale of almost all incandescent lightbulbs and force the marketplace to offer the light emitting diode (LED) in its place. The reasoning behind this is the efficiency of the LED, which cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Department of Energy, under the leadership of Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm, insists these new standards will “collectively save $3 billion a year” on utility bills and “cut emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide by an estimated 222 million metric tons over the next 30 years,” according to The New York Times.
Making the incandescent lightbulb illegal has long been a goal of the left. The effort to outlaw Edison’s invention was stalled a bit under President Donald Trump, but the argument was reignited under the Democratic administration of Joe Biden. “It’s a good case study on the ratchet of regulation, how it undermines democracy and trust in the media, and how it causes clever corporations to undermine their own enterprise,” opined the Washington Examiner.
Despite the push for consumers to use LEDs, an estimated 30% of all lightbulbs sold in the US in 2020 were still incandescent. At issue is the lighting method; the incandescent uses a heat-producing filament that tends to pop or burn out over time, whereas LEDs can last up to ten times longer. Instead of allowing consumers a choice, the Department of Energy has simply outlawed the old-fashioned bulb. In other words, you will be forced to go green whether you like it or not.
Manufacturers have been on both sides of this issue but appear to have gotten burned by their waffling since the profit margin for the incandescent is higher than that of the light emitting diode. Low-income consumers will be the ones hurt the most since the old style costs less to buy.
Others feel the hand of Big Brother lurking and don’t like it. “Why, exactly, do we have to have a government mandate on this? The clumsy hand of government regulations rarely (if ever) yields a good market outcome. USSR here we come,” complained Jason McDonald in the comment section for a story in The New York Times. But Susan from Los Angeles may have put her finger on the real issue regarding the incandescent/LED war: “I dislike LED light bulbs – they give off ugly light.” This argument was illuminated by another commenter who wrote, “I have yet to find a decent LED that doesn’t emit a cringe-inducing bright white color. Sure, the box may say ‘warm’, ‘yellow’, ‘soft’ and/or ‘low temperature spectrum’, but they invariably make me feel like I’m in an interrogation room in a 1950’s noir.”
Therein lies the rub. Lightbulbs are not merely energy devices. As any interior designer will tell you, they set the mood of a room. As well psychological studies have shown how lighting affects one’s emotions. Could living in a world of only LEDs foster a harsher – perhaps even angrier – population?
While the climate changers worship at the altar of energy use, one can’t help but wonder about the full spectrum of negative consequences that this new edict will bring forth. As for the death of the lovely incandescent, there may be only two words left that apply to it: stock up!
*Some claim the lightbulb was developed by British inventor Sir Humphry Davy.
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