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Wise or Not: The U.N. Suggesting Rapid Replacement Of Incandescent Bulbs With CFLs


I had heard that the European Union wants to prohibit the production of incandescent lighting bulbs, but I never thought that would be possible in a short time. Frankly, on the one hand I’d be glad for the huge carbon savings this measure would give, but on the other the CFLs are not yet widely accepted by the eye, their light being much colder and giving your home an office-like feeling.

This was one of the matters discussed at the COP16, kept in Cancun this year. 40 countries already have their own programs to switch, as reported by the UNEP (U.N. Environment Program). Calculations show that the shift would cut electricity demand for lighting by 2 percent.

These are the amounts of money and the carbon dioxide saved by the various countries yearly, as cited by the UN:

  • Indonesia, $1 bln/8 mln tons
  • Brazil, $2 bln
  • Mexico, $900 million
  • Ukraine, $210 million
  • South Africa, $280 million

“Similar findings come from other country assessments,” said Achim Steiner, head of UNEP.

Wolfgang Gregor, from Osram, one of the most important bulb and CFL manufacturers, said that the decision of phasing out incandescent bulbs would reduce the number of deaths due to indoor air pollution, which produces about 1.8 million victims yearly worldwide.

The main issue with successfully and environmentally implementing the decision is the fact that most CFLs contain mercury. A possible solution would be their safe collection, disposal and recycling. As far as I know from the facts, people will not always recycle their bulbs because not everybody is aware of the dangers or what they contain.

I don’t know if forcefully imposing CFLs worldwide would truly be a solution to the energy and carbon crisis. I truly doubt its effectiveness because usually when such solutions are imposed in a hurry, there will be some other factor that will compensate the good part of their replacement.

Although I am optimistic about technology advances in general, I have to be a little realistic about this one… we’d better wait for LEDs to have their word in the equation…

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  1. I don’t like it. I believe everything has its place and time in the grand scheme of things. The wide desimination of a known toxin that will be eventually in everything as the CFLs are made mandantory sounds like an underlying conspiracy to curb global population growth. I foresee no immediate effects but down the road…… My suggestion is to have the disposal and reuse and recapture systems inplace for the mercury prior to any mass shift away from standard incondesant bulbs. Money would be better spent of setting up renewable energy plants such as solar, wind, geothermal and barametric. These will do a better job of off setting carbon emmisions.


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