Harry Reid is happy. Congress has decided to ban the ordinary light bulb.
Actually, despite the fact that flourescent lights cost a lot more here than ordinary bulbs, we have switched to them here in the Philippines.
I’m not convinced they are cheaper in the long run: They are supposed to last forever, but the dirty little secret is that fluorescent lights hate power surges, and we have frequent brown outs with power surges.

To make things worse, we’ve had a couple stolen from our fence lamps (a hazard here). Thieves don’t bother to steal the ordinary 30 peso bulbs, but it is profitable to resell the fluorescent 75 peso ones to make money.

But the new religion is stopping greenhouse gases, and we try to do our part, so never mind the methane from our organically grown rice paddies, let’s change light bulbs.

The BBC notes that an Australian Government minister claimed:

The environment minister said the move could cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4 million tonnes by 2012…”If the whole world switches to these bulbs today, we would reduce our consumption of electricity by an amount equal to five times Australia’s annual consumption of electricity,” he said.

Yes, but did you ever see what you look like under the glare of a newfangled flourescent light bulb? Any woman can tell you: We look hideous, with every zit and wrinkle showing…and even makeup doesn’t help: with these lights, it just lets you see how the flakes of your facepowder fill your wrinkles to make them more hideous.
But maybe if everyone uses the bulbs, we can still use our SUV?

Not if the PC can help it. They’d like to ban them too…never mind that we have a fuel efficient small car for trips, but mainly use our diesel pickup truck, because if we travel to Manila, we end up delivering supplies, buying supplies, and carrying at least five people.

When we shop locally, we walk or take a “tricycle”. This is a motorcycle with a one passenger side car that here in the Philippines holds two to three people in the side car, twenty pounds of groceries on the top and tied to the back, and a spare person sitting behind the driver.

The eco types would like to ban the tricycles too, or replace them with more fuel efficient (read expensive) engines. That’s sure to help bankrupt the poor guys who drive the tricycles, but never mind.

Being green means either high tech expensive solutions for the rich and living like your ancestors for everyone else.
When shopping, one of the nice things about modern life is that everything now can be carried in nice plastic bags with handles that you can tie to keep stuff from falling out, instead of paper bags that hold a lot more weight and tend to be dropped or have things fall out the open top. This is especially nice when the groceries are on the top of a speeding tricycle.
Paper or plastic? Doesn’t matter. The PC want you to carry your own canvas bag for groceries. How self righteous.

“Paper or plastic?” has become as commonplace and casual as “Have a nice day.” But there’s nothing casual about the use of plastic bags and paper bags for groceries in America. According to Worldwatch Institute, factories around the world manufactured 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags per year. Although many of these bags are recyclable, each year Americans return only 0.6 percent of the 100 billion plastic bags they use and toss the rest. Are paper bags better? Let’s compare paper and plastic. Plastic bag production requires 40 percent less energy, results in 80 percent less solid and 94 percent less waterborne wastes, and generates 70 percent less air pollution than the manufacture of paper bags.

The solution? Eco friendly Canvas tote bags…
Let’s buy one. Ah, here’s one I like: LLBean has some nice hefty ones that will hold two gallons of milk without breaking the strap. Thirty dollars. No problem.
Or, if I really want to diss my neighors and be fashionable too, try this Nieman Marcus butterfly design tote bag: only $225 each, plus tax.

In Oklahoma, we averaged eight bags of groceries on our weekly trip to Walmart. That’s a lot of tote bags.

But of course, here in the Philippines, canvas tote bags would be either imported from China and fall apart in two months, or we’d have to buy canvas in Manila and then have our local seamstress sew a couple.

It would be easy to use tote bags here. Unlike in Oklahoma, where I worked full time and had to do all my grocery shopping on my day off,  here we have a full time cook and she shops every day. A couple of years ago, she still used a basket to shop, but now gets her groceries in small plastic bags.
But here fish and chicken are sold in open air markets, unwrapped and naked except for the flies. So that means we’d have to wash the bag every day, using electricity for our water pump and paying a girl to do the laundry. And that’s assuming that our dog BadBrad won’t find the smelly bag first and eat it.

Yum! chicken blood soaked tote bag!
All of these ideas are nice, but for the consumer, the total price ends up higher in the long run.
Take Low Flow toilets. Please take them. To this day, I swear that Al Gore lost the 2000 election because he promoted them back in the 1990’s…The real problem with “low flow” toilets is that you had to flush them three times to remove waste. This problem of course resulted in a lucrative toilet smuggling business, and a lot of money selling the newfangled (and more expensive) dual flush toilets.

Yes, we are green. We use the dual flush type. But the dirty little secret of this area of the Philippines is that if you aren’t rich enough for your own water pump, the water pressure isn’t high enough to fill the tank anyway, and so you “flush” with a bucket of water into an ancient hole in the ground that drains into the open air mosquito friendly ditches that drains into the local river or irrigation canal.
Living in a world half modern and half eco friendly (aka poor) it gives one a different point of view on all this newfangled enthusiasm for low carbon lifestyles.
My take on the American ban on light bulbs?

This is good news for smugglers, since once Huckabee becomes president and everyone in the US gets religion and stops smoking pot, the smugglers along the border can just turn to smuggling light bulbs along with freon and High Flow toilets to stay in business.

As for us, since most of the light bulbs being sold in the Palenke are now fluorescent types, it shouldn’t be a problem…at least until all those discarded light bulbs in our garbage disposal landfill contaminates the water supply with mercury…but that’s another story ….


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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