Wednesday, February 23, 2005
The problem...Light bulbs and energy efficiency
The waste of energy associated with using incandescent light bulbs costs money, causes unnecessary pollution and risks harmful climate change.
Although energy saving light bulbs have been available for over 30 years they have struggled to gain widespread acceptance and use - despite considerable improvements in their design and performance.
Ban The Bulb feels that compact fluorescent lamps have not become widely used because:
(i) energy saving light bulbs cost more to buy than incandescents,
(ii) they are not as readily available in shops as they might be,
(iii) consumers don't realise how much energy and/or money they could be saving,
(iv) governments have become reluctant to edit consumer choices (ban things!),
(v) the major manufacturers have refused to invest in new lighting technologies until they know that there is going to be a large market for new products,
(vi) energy efficiency has been overlooked as a way of meeting future energy demand,
(vii) Most of the discussion has focused on the building of new energy supplies which are comparatively expensive and time consuming.
This campaign believes that the case for dramatically increasing the use of energy efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescent lamps, needs to be made and that light bulbs offer a good place to start...
Light bulbs are positively associated with bright ideas and change, familiar to everyone and symbolic of the problems facing many other energy efficient technologies.
Tackling the barriers to transforming the light bulb market should also help to initiate conversations about reducing the demand for energy (not just arguing about which types of energy supply to build) and help to demonstrate how markets could be obliged and incentivised to achieve desired outcomes.
The large-scale burning of fossil fuels to make energy has resulted in a build up of greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. This is leading to a warming in average global temperatures and altering the behaviour of the world's climate.
Since the beginning of the industrial revolution, human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases are thought to have resulted in average global temperatures increasing by 0.7 degrees centigrade.
The UK government's chief scientist has warned that climate change is one the greatest threats to humanity, and there are already many anecdotal reports of unusual changes in the weather - in most regions of the world.
Based on the views of over 1000 climate scientists and complex climate models, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that global temperatures will increase by between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade by 2100.
The 1.4 degree change is predicted to occur if we do all in our power to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, whilst the 5.8 degree change is anticipated if we continue to behave in the way that we have previously.
Business-as-usual is not an option, and changes in lifestyles and consumption patterns are going to be necessary.
Although technologies which permit humans to produce and use energy more efficiently already exist many have not been adopted. Most societies have instead preferred to put off change, to blame someone else for their problems or to fight wars which appear to guarantee continued access to "cheap" fossil fuels.
They have also imagined that the problem of climate change will go away, affect future generations or that thousands of climate scientists must be wrong...
For understandable reasons humans tend to resist change, to purchase the cheapest solutions to their problems, to lack an awareness of the threat posed by climate change and to condemn governments which address long-term problems.
Individuals can also feel that there is little they can do to address such epic problems.
Posted 3:51 PM by Matt Prescott