RUSHTON: Give us reasons, not laws, to cut energy use

Sometimes it doesn’t take much to send people over the edge. While things here are not quite as crazy as they are in Egypt, the furor over compact fluorescent light bulbs, and the banning of incandescents, is getting close.

As I’ve related in previous columns, I switched many lights to CFLs a few years ago, and certainly noticed a reduction in my electricity bill. I’ve never found them to be slow lighting up, their brightness (at least in my workshop) is within reasonable parameters and they seem to last.

I am aware however, that they don’t like the cold … the fluorescent tubes that light my barn on warm days don’t when it’s really cold. And since 90 per cent of our province and virtually all the rest of Canada is, from October to about March, often akin to a deep freeze, people living north and east of Hope will be in the dark, at least as far as their porch light is concerned.

Do I think CFLs have a place in our homes? My hydro bill proved they work. Do they last as long as claimed? Most seem to. Do they provide as much light as an incandescent? I think so. Should they be legislated into law, and incandescent light bulbs banned? Absolutely not.

This is not a nanny state, and we as citizens of what I consider the greatest country on Earth should make it clear that we don’t need to be told, and required, what to do.

Governments should make a case for the use of more energy-efficient lighting systems, but they should not make it a requirement. Nor for that matter should they be banning many other activities or things – books, lifestyle, thoughts, religions, guns or anything else we choose to do or use that does not harm or affect others.

We have a charter of rights and freedoms, and any time ‘government’ chooses to ban something, it is infringing on those rights.

While I may be in the minority, I also think it wrong that we are slapped with a carbon tax. Yes, I drive an emissions-spewing vehicle, but I also recycle and live a relatively pollution-free lifestyle. My consumption of products other than fuel creates little in the way of carbon emissions. Granted, some of those products do come from China, which has a less than sterling reputation, but do you really think their factories, and those in any nation other than Canada for that matter, will truly buy into a cap and trade program that is primarily promulgated by stock brokers believing they can make a fortune selling irrelevancies?

Let’s be honest, why would anyone pay money to someone else to salve their corporate conscience while they continue to pollute – unless it increases their bottom line?

Yes, we have to do something to reduce pollution but does planting a few trees really justify someone else, who supposedly pays for those trees, to continue to poison the air?

Fuel, whether it comes from the tar sands, oil and gas wells, coal deposits or nuclear sources, will always be required to supply the endless demand for more and better. So there truly is a need to develop an environmentally friendly source.

Regardless, life is not infinite, and I have to believe that neither is the capacity of the Earth to sustain us.

One day it will all end, just as a light bulb – CFL or incandescent – will eventually and inevitably burn out.

In the meantime, governments should refrain from trying to mandate ‘what’s best’ for us, and instead concentrate on minimizing their role in our lives.

As for the CFLs in my house, they’ve mostly been replaced with halogens because no matter how great their energy-efficiency, they are, if one breaks, toxic.