Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wisdom - Conventional or Divine, part 1

"Conventional wisdom is a term used to describe ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public or by experts in a field. The term implies that the ideas or explanations, though widely held, are unexamined and, hence, may be reevaluated upon further examination or as events unfold." (Wikipedia definition)

There are many ideas in our society that have recently become part of conventional wisdom. In the next few posts, I will examine some of these to find if these ideas are the wisdom of God or just human foolishness. I think that we will find is that the opinion of so-called experts and other well-meaning people may not be wise at all. Now I understand that not all will agree with my conclusions, but I hope that they will realize that conventional wisdom is often mere opinion and that there is more than one side to every issue. Let's keep an open mind as we examine some of these things.

The first idea that I want to examine is the notion that it is better for the environment and our wallets if homeowners replace their incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. We are told that they use 75% less electricity and last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. So, even though fluorescent bulbs cost a lot more, it will save the homeowner money and help the environment by using less energy. Sounds like a win-win situation. And we are assured that there is no down side to this.

But there is a down side. I know about fluorescent bulbs because I used them in my business. I had a bakery and a deli operation. The Health Department required me to put shields over my fluorescent bulbs. The reason: fluorescent bulbs contain mercury and if they are broken they release that mercury in the air. Everyone knows that that is a serious hazard, especially in a place where food is kept.

On the same website where the federal government recommends the use of these bulbs, there is a link containing information about what to do if a fluorescent bulb breaks. Let me summarize: First, clear the room for 15 minutes, especially removing delicate things like children and pets. Turn off central heat or a/c. If the mess is on a hard surface, DO NOT vacuum up. Use sticky tape to clean and then damp rags. Put all cleaning stuff and broken light bulb pieces in a sealed plastic bag and put outside in the trash. If it is carpeting that needs cleaning, then do vacuum but immediately replace the vacuum bag by putting it in a sealed plastic bag. If any stuff gets onto clothing, DO NOT put the clothing in a washing machine because the mercury will get into the washer and contaminate what is washed in it later. And I hope that you remember to wear a mask and gloves to do all this. Shall I go on?

Here's more. While these bulbs are efficient, they actually flicker 60 times per second. Most people cannot see this consciously, but it is not good for your eyes and some people get headaches from it. What is worse is that most autistic people do see the flickering and it is really bad for them.

Will it save money and the environment (outside the home)? That is actually uncertain. There is a lot of evidence that fluorescents do not last any longer that regular bulbs. People do not seem to be experiencing longer usage. They seem to burn out like any other bulb. Also, there is anecdotal evidence that most people do not see a drop in their electric bills. So it is uncertain that the benefits which are touted by the 'experts' really pan out.

No doubt you have guessed my conclusion. Fluorescent bulbs are not a good idea for a home environment. I have no plans to use them even if they would save me money. I consider them an unacceptable risk. I will pay a few more dollars a month to get lighting that is much more safe and easier on the eyes.

I have no objection if someone decides to use these bulbs. But I think that we need to be fully informed and weigh the risks and benefits in a rational way instead of pushing it as if it is necessary to 'save the earth'.

It is important that we carefully examine conventional wisdom to find whether it is wisdom from God or just someone's bad idea. It is too easy to be taken in by so-called experts who are pushing something out of some ideology like what we get in our current environmental movement.

No comments:

Post a Comment