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If you're like me, you've changed all the light bulbs in your house to compact fluorescents in order to conserve electricity.    Recently though, I came downstairs to our family office and much to my immediate horror, I found my wife working (she works in a home office) with a desk lamp, with (gasp) an old fashioned incandescent bulb.

Immediately I drove to the local supermarket - I could have walked, since unlike Amory Lovins, I live in a walkable community, but damn it was cold - to buy a CFL to put in my wife's lamp.    I have measured the gas mileage on the car I used - a 1996 Honda Civic - at 33 mpg, meaning that the round trip of about 1 mile, using a rough approximation of 8 kg of carbon dioxide released for each gallon of the dangerous fossil fuel product gasoline that is burned, injected 250 grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide, into earth's atmosphere to get the lightbulb.   But, of course, were I a good conservationist, I would have thought things out so that I had combined trips in such a way that I not only got a lifetime supply of CFL's, but a two month supply of bananas and tomatoes as well.   So it would be silly to argue that the car trip has anything at all to do with the carbon output of CFL bulbs.

For cars, the greenhouse gas cost is not limited to the fuel, of course.   The manufacture of the car incurred a greenhouse cost as well.   But since the car is more than 10 years old, we may consider this cost amortized, which brings me to an important enviromental point:   An environmentalist is not a person who insists on "all new stuff," everytime something new and sexy comes along.   An environmentalist tries to make the existing stuff, especially when one considers durable goods, last as long as possible.   No matter how much money we have, we have no intention of buying a cool new Prius.

I've been using CFL bulbs since the days they cost close to ten bucks each.   In fact, I've been using them so long, that I have managed to burn a few of them out - they do last a long time - presenting myself with a moral problem of how to throw them away, since I know they contain mercury.  

I called my township to find out if we had a flourescent recycling program.   I could hear the clerk rolling her eyes over the phone.   "No," she said, "we recommend you put the light bulbs in the regular trash."   That's what I did.   I hope the trash collecter didn't break the bulb, and if he did, I hope I didn't track mercury home to his kids.

Having bought a number of CFL bulbs, I have to say, this one is the best yet.   Frankly, they get better and better, more compact and - subjectively at least - much better at putting out intense light.   This particular bulb which was said to be the equivalent of a "100 watt" bulb (incandescent) cost me, with tax, close to 4 bucks, but everybody in town knows that the particular supermarket where I bought my bulb rapes you on things like light bulbs, although occassionally they have a competitive price on bananas and tomatoes.      You can get much cheaper CFL bulbs if you drive your fat ass car to Home Depot.   Where I live, Home Depot is about 5 kg of dangerous fossil fuel waste away (round trip, 1996 Honda Civic based dangerous fossil fuel waste calculation).  

(As it happens, we still happen to have a local hardware store to which one can walk in this town, but damned if anyone can tell how it stays in business, even though I have calculated that one will actually save money by paying the walkable guy an extra three bucks for a screwdriver.)

According to the manufacturer, the light bulb consumes "only" 25 watts even though it's "100 watt-like."   This is a convenient number in my imagination, because I recently calculated that is the average power consumed by the average Cambodian for all purposes, cooking, eating, flushing the toilet and keeping up with the latest episode of "Oprah" is about 25 watts.

Anyway.   I put the light bulb in the lamp, feeling perfectly well satisfied that my wife would be perfectly well satisfied with how "environmental" I am when she saw it.

My wife, who has lived through the agony of seeing me try to figure out the ethical way of trying to discard a light bulb, had this to say when she saw her new light bulb:  "What happened to my light bulb?"

If you are tired of hearing my tiresome lectures on climate change, consider that it could be worse.   You could have married it.

After (patiently hearing me out) my wife protested, "But it keeps me warm!"

The central heating unit in my house is a high efficiency furnace fueled by the dangerous fossil fuel natural gas.   When I moved in, I was determined to be very "environmental" in my house and one of the ways I satisfied myself on that score was by buying a new high efficiency furnace.   (The car culture suburb in which I live is walkable, but not exceptionally so.)   The guy who sold the furnance to me, who turned out at the end of the day to be a Christian fundie - as opposed to an anti-nuke fundie - told me that the new furnace was 93% efficient.  

Now, as it happens, the fundie heating guy was kind of scummy about business ethics.  My "extended" warranty didn't include in writing the clause about huddling around the fireplace for 5 days when he found the time to honor it (and it could be honored only if I happened to have the receipt handy).  Two years after exercising that unwritten clause about the 5 days huddled around the fireplace, he had the nerve to call to tell me that my warranty depended on him giving me a "discount" service call - which I declined, having already recognized that the warranty was worthless.   (I have a contract now with my dangerous fossil fuel company, and they fix your furnace right away if there's a problem.)  

But for the other part of his salesmanship, the part about the "efficiency," of my furnace, though, I believe it.   Irrespective of the other stuff the fundie furnace saleman/installer did or didn't do, he didn't make the furnace.   The furnace was made by Trane, which manufactured the heater, I think, right near here in Trenton, New Jersey.   (That will stop soon though.   Trane was just sold to Ingersoll Rand.   Hello Chinese manufacturing plant.)   At the time I had a furnace that used the dangerous fossil fuel oil - and after installation of the new gas furnace, my heating bills were cut by more than half.

Another reason I believe that the furnace is 93% efficient is that there is a little water pump attached to the furnace, and if it fails - as it has - my crawlspace begins to fill with water.   This is because when you burn the dangerous fossil fuel natural gas, there are several products, the famous dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide (as well as tiny amounts of carbon monoxide, methanol, formaldehyde and formic acid) and water.   If the latter, water is transformed from the gas phase in which it forms to a liquid, this means that the exhaust has pretty much reached room temperature, and thus the furnace is efficient.

However efficient the furnace is, for structural reasons involving the duct work and the physical layout of my split level house, the furnace isn't very good at heating our downstairs office space.   I think to solve the problem we'd need all new duct work and a bunch of other stuff, including insulation.   Where I live, from a risk perspective, it's sort of a mixed bag, insulation, at least in that particular space, the lowest level in our home.  All of western New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvannia sits on a geological formation called the "Reading Pronge."   The Reading Pronge is a huge natural uranium formation deep underground.   Many underground wells around here are thus contaminated with radon gas, and so are many basements, including, at times, mine.  

Radon gas is the third largest cause of lung cancer in the world, after smoking (#1) and the form of dangerous fossil fuel waste represented by particulate matter (#2).   From 80 to 90% of the cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking, and dangerous fossil fuel waste causes the bulk of the remainder, but a small fraction is known to be the result of radon accumulation in basements.   By the way, the dangerous fossil fuel waste that causes most of the lung cancer that is not caused by smoking is not carbon dioxide, even though carbon dioxide represents the bulk, in mass, of dangerous fossil fuel waste.   The dangerous fossil fuel waste that causes cancer is the dangerous particulate matter generally formed by diesel engines and dangerous coal combustion.  Dangerous coal combustion causes oodles of particulate pollution about which they couldn't care less in the anti-nuke fundementalist religion.

Anyway, about our light bulb.      

We solve the problem of the cold office by heating the office electrically, but my wife doesn't like to run the electric heater too long, because, she says, it's expensive.   The lightbulb, she says, takes the edge off the cold and otherwise she makes like Jimmy Carter and dresses warmly in the downstairs office.

The decomposition of radon gas in our basement does not provide significant heat by the way.

My wife's attachment to the heat from the lightbulb got me to thinking about the matter of efficiency, and it immediately occurred to me that inefficient electric appliances running in cold rooms requiring heaters - in the Northern Hemisphere in most places from October until April - might not actually lose energy.   So called "wasted" energy is only waste when it is not used.    Arguably, for six months roughly, the lightbulb is merely an electric heater.   Since there is a larger electric heater in the room, there is no environmental or financial penalty for using the incandescent lamp as opposed to a compact flourescent.

But suppose that the basement were efficiently heated by natural gas?  Would the light bulb still be better than the dangerous fossil fueled furnace?

New Jersey generates more than half of its electricity using the world's largest, by far, form of greenhouse gas free energy, nuclear power.    Thus, I reasoned, electric heaters, including light bulbs when they are indoors - and by the way my CFL is not perfectly efficient - when I touch it, it is hot, and it is, therefore, also something of an electric heater - might actually be better for the environment than efficient gas furnaces.   But was I right about this?  After all, my furnace is high efficiency and, in fact, I am aware that New Jersey burns two dangerous fossil fuels, natural gas and a little coal, to generate electricity.  I know something - I think about it all the time in fact - about whence my electricity comes.   And no, the answer is not "the wall socket."   What about electricity comes from the burning of dangerous fossil fuels and the indiscriminate dumping of dangerous fossil fuel waste into the air and water and unto the land.

I decided to do some calculations.

First let's look at the electricity profile of New Jersey:

Table 5.  Electric Power Industry Generation by Primary Energy Source, 1990 Through 2006 (Megawatthours)

We see as of 2006, New Jersey generated 53.7% of its electricity using nuclear power, 25.8% of its electricity using the same dangerous fossil fuel that fuels my furnace, 17.9% of its electricity using the filthy fuel coal, and 1.5% of its electricity using "other renewables."   In EIA talk, "other renewables" includes wind, solar, biomass burning and municipal waste burning.

Without a doubt, the municipal waste portion is a huge portion of "other renewables" in New Jersey - even though a large portion of municpal waste in fact comes from petroleum in the form of waste plastic - but for the rest of this calculation I am going to pretend that "other renewables" comes from wind power, for argument's sake.   Therefore I'm going to make almost like a Greenpeace fundie and pretend that the external cost of renewables is next to non-existent.

The figures I am going to use for the carbon dioxide impact of electrical energy will come from Environ. Sci. Technol. 2005, 39, 1903-1911, an article by Paul Denholm, wind advocate, and references therein.  I will assume that the external cost represented by greenhouse gases is represented by the upper limits given by Denholm.     Thus I will indicate that coal releases 1100 grams of dangerous carbon dioxide per kw-hr of energy produced and that natural gas releases 500 grams of dangerous fossil fuel per kw-hr of energy. (Note that Denholm assumes that 100% of the natural gas plants are combined cycle plants - not justifiable really, but let's go with it for argument's sake.)   Denholm assigns to nuclear power (again upper limit) an external carbon dioxide cost of 25 grams per kw-hr.    This is equivalent to the cost he assigns to wind power, also 25 grams per kw-hr without energy storage.   With the energy storage that would truly make wind a competitor of wind, CAES, the external carbon dioxide cost as calculated by Denholm is 4 times larger than nuclear, or 100 grams of dangerous carbon dioxide per kw-hr of energy produced.

Now let's look at New Jersey's electricity and the incandescent lightbulb/heater and how it compares to the dangerous natural gas furnace.

If 17.9% of New Jersey's electricity is obtained from the dangerous fossil fuel coal, then the weighted carbon dioxide cost of coal generated electricity per kw-hr of electricity in New Jersey can be shown to be 196 grams, at 1100 grams/kwh for coal, of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide.

If 25.8% of New Jersey's electricity comes from plants fueled by dangerous natural gas, then the weighted carbon dioxide impact of a kw-hr of electricity, at 500 grams per kw-hr, in New Jersey is 129 grams of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide.

If nuclear power produces 53.7% of the electricity in New Jersey - and it will continue to do so until nuclear infrastructure is destroyed by dopey fundie anti-nukes with defective educations - the weighted carbon dioxide impact of nuclear energy accounts, at 25 grams per kw-hr of electrical energy, for 13 grams of the dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide per kw-hr.

Finally, if we assume that all of the "other renewables" in New Jersey are wind plants - they're not, but let's play pretend - then if "other renewables" portion of the electrical energy in New Jersey at 1.5% and 25 grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste per kw-hr, "other renewables" in New Jersey represent 0.38 grams of carbon dioxide.

Let's turn to the light bulb.

Summing these figures, we see that in New Jersey, the carbon dioxide impact of electricity is about 340 grams of dangerous carbon dioxide per kw-hr.   Since a kw-hr is 3,600,000 Joules, and a 100 watt light bulb running over a workshift of 10 hours burns exactly a kw-hr, it follows that the incandescent light bulb is responsible for the release of 340 grams of the dangerous fossil fuel waste carbon dioxide.

A CFL light bulb that actually uses 25 watts of power to produce as much light - and let's not bother with the somewhat problematic issue of lumens and the "perceptual" intensity at light at 555 nm - would release in New Jersey about 85 grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste in 10 hours.

Now let's turn to the dangerous fossil fuel fueled furnace in my house.

The amount of dangerous fossil fuel waste released by dangerous natural gas is given here.

We see that each TJ of dangerous natural gas contains 14.4 metric tons of carbon.   Thus, it is easy to show that 1 kwh of thermal energy contained in the dangerous fossil fuel furnace in my house, at 93% thermal efficiency, contains about 55.7 grams of carbon.   The molecular weight of carbon dioxide is roughly 44, and the atomic weight of carbon is 12 roughly.   Thus it follows that the release of carbon dioxide by the furnace to produce an amount of energy equivalent to the light bulb is about 205 grams, carrying one insignificant figure.   Since the incandescent lightbulb "wastes" 3/4 of its energy as heat, compared to the CFL, the heat from the light bulb costs, in carbon dioxide terms, 255 grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste.

Thus the savings to the environment - in New Jersey for the owner of a high efficiency furnace - is about 50 grams of carbon dioxide over a ten hour period.    Thus, it takes about 50 hours of light bulb operation in winter, for the owner of a high efficiency gas furnace, to recover the cost of driving one mile to buy the bulb at the local supermarket.   If one drives the same distance that I have to drive to get the light bulb at Home Depot, it takes 1000 hours of winter operation to recover the greenhouse gas loss.

Now let's consider Vermont, where 72 percent of the power comes from nuclear energy - the efforts of dumb fundie anti-nukes to destroy the nuclear infrastructure there notwithstanding - 21% comes from hydropower and 6% comes from "other renewables."  

The electricity profile of Vermont

The matter of how much greenhouse gas hydroelectricity produces is somewhat controversial - an anti-hydro group contends that it is as dangerous as dangerous natural gas in Brazil.   But I don't think that what applies in Brazil necessarily applies in Vermont.   It is hardly surprising that the greenhouse gas cost of dams in Syria are different than the greenhouse gas cost of dams in India, different than the greenhouse gas cost of a high alpine hydroelectric station in Italy.   In any case, once the organic matter under the dam - be it pristine rain forest or the wood in inundated towns - has rotted, the rate of release of greenhouse gases changes.

Out of respect for the more than 200,000 dead at Banqiao, we'll pretend that Chinese dams don't exist, much as fundamentalist anti-nukes, who couldn't care less about the subject anyway, pretend that coal doesn't exist.

For the purposes of calculation, we'll assume that in Vermont, the greenhouse gas cost of hydroelectric dams is at least as good as nuclear power.   If, in fact, it is better than nuclear in Vermont it will have no effect on determining the effect on the relative benefits of electrical conservation in Vermont - it will serve only to make electricity an even better form of heating.   If it is worse, it actually won't matter.  Unless they are either demolished or unless they collapse, the greenhouse gas cost of dams is constant.   It matters not a whit if the turbines are running or not in general.

Thus let's assume that the greenhouse gas cost of Vermont dams is 25 grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste, carbon dioxide, per kwh.

Six percent of Vermont's electricity comes from "other renewables" and I will play pretend and assume that this form of energy is all wind power and thus is at least as good as nuclear:   Twenty-five grams of dangerous fossil fuel waste per kw-hr.

Doing a weighted average as before, as I did with New Jersey, we see that the carbon dioxide cost of running a kwh of electricity in Vermont has a greenhouse gas cost of about 25 grams, and thus the portion of "waste" heat from a lightbulb is 18 grams of carbon dioxide.   This means that in Vermont, even if one has a high efficiency dangerous gas heater like mine, the greenhouse gas cost of replacing a light bulb with a CFL is higher than having an incandescent.

It is very, very, very, very important to note that this calculation applies only in winter when the heater is operating.   An incandescent light bulb running where air conditioning is also operating is ridiculous and wasteful.

Of course, dopey anti-nuke fundies are running around trying to destroy Vermont's nuclear infrastructure, so it may not prove true that the electricity in Vermont will remain clean and safe for very much longer, but for now, the reality is what it is.

I would like to return to the situation in New Jersey for a minute.   Of the three largest sources of primary energy for electrical generation in New Jersey, the smallest of them, coal, generates the bulk of the dangerous fossil fuel waste.

By contrast, the largest form of primary energy for electrical generation in New Jersey, nuclear energy, generates the least dangerous fossil fuel waste.

Note that in calculating the dangerous fossil fuel waste generated by my car when I went to buy the CFL bulb at the local supermarket, I did not count any dangerous fossil fuel waste generated by the manufacture of the car.   There is justification for this:   The car is more than 10 years old.   Since the car's external costs from manufacture are more than a decade old, it is fair to say that the external cost from manufacture is fully amortized, since the manufacturing related dangerous fossil fuel waste generated can no longer be recovered.  (On the other hand, the maintenance external cost is significant and it is not justifiable to ignore it.)    The situation would be very different if I ordered a new car.   Of course the new car might be sexy - a Prius is considered sexy by some - but the external cost of manufacturing would be an additional strain on the environment.

This brings up an important point:   In many cases, the "all new stuff" conceit that floats around in many circles is less environmental than advertised.   In general, it is environmentally wise to use stuff for as long as possible, discarding it only when it is completely worthless.   A new car is not sexy, no matter what they tell you in the ridiculous car ads that permeate the ridiculous car culture.

Ridiculous anti-nuke fundies are trying to destroy one of the nation's oldest nuclear plants, the Oyster Creek reactor, because they cannot think clearly.   In fact, almost all of the external cost in carbon dioxide terms associated with that reactor come from its construction, which was finished in 1969.   The reactor functions perfectly well and if it is shut by anti-nuke fundies, it will be replaced for certain by dangerous fossil fuel plants, just as every single nuclear plant that has been shut around the world by public ignorance has been so replaced.

(With these facts in mind, I regard the entire class of anti-nuke fundies who are trying to destroy my state's nuclear infrastructure as people who are attempting to do physical damage to my children.   As such, I hold them in contempt.)

My state is a coastal state.   This means that we have access to cooling water that is not dependent on river flows, such flows being under threat everywhere on the planet as the environment collapses.   This makes New Jersey an ideal place to build new nuclear reactors.   I personally would have no objection whatsoever if one were literally built effectively in my back yard, although as it happens, I live close to a river and not close to the coast.

My electrical service area is the PJM interconnect which services New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware.    As of today the minimum power - the baseload as seen in the graph - in early January is about 75,000 megawatts, which would represent the output of about 50 nuclear plants - and thus eliminating all the coal burned in New Jersey - and the bulk of its dangerous fossil fuel waste, striking almost 200 grams of carbon dioxide from each kw-hr generated.   Note:  Coal is a minor contributor to New Jersey's electrical generation.

Now, people are always marching around making grand announcements about what they think renewable energy will do someday.   Despite decades of such talk, after billions of loudly stated promises, the renewable energy business - at least when it comes to stopping dangerous fossil fuels - has been a rather grotesque failure.  That said, no one, with the possible exception of Robert F. Kennedy Jr, is trying to stop the renewables advocates from taking a crack at the 129 grams of dangerous natural gas generated dangerous fossil fuel waste that shows up per kwh of electricty in New Jersey.   Because of the grotesque failure of renewable energy to stop climate change, not only in New Jersey, but everywhere, history would seem to suggest though that an accumulation of solar roofs and windmills - never mind garbage incinerators - cannot be built as fast as 50 nuclear reactors.    

How do we know?  Well for one thing, people have been talking up renewable energy for more than 50 years now and - as if the world had not just spent most of literate history relying on renewable energy -  the amount of continuous average power from "renewable" electrical plants is the equivalent of 42 large (1000MWe) power plants.  Note that's all of the world's biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, and trash burning plants combined.   If we consider that this talk has been going on for 50 years, and that on average, it has amounted to the equivalent of less than one large power plant - worldwide - per year, we know exactly how slow the "renewables will save us" game is.

Still I am in favor, pretty much, of every renewable energy installation added to New Jersey.    The number of renewable energy installations in New Jersey is zero.    That doesn't mean much, since renewable energy in New Jersey doesn't mean much - it could all disappear and no one would notice - but it is, nonetheless, true.

It would be great for New Jersey, if we - with our coast lines - could have 20 of those reactors, helping our inland neighbors out, creating local jobs and tax ratables, using our excellent rail networks for construction materials movement and, if the public should be struck with a sudden stroke of rationality - not a good bet admittedly - a few plants nuclear plants in our denser cities, Newark, Camden, Elizabeth, Trenton (near where I live).   Powerplants located in cities offer the potential that waste heat could be used for district heating in winter.   In fact, Trenton already has a district heating infrastructure.  

Although, overall, these cities are poor now, but the influx of money could serve to revive them - cheap heat, cheap electricity, excellent rail connections, etc, etc.   I cannot help but to think that industries - such as remain in America - and other businesses - will be drawn in because in a time of fossil fuel collapse and climate change, access to things like cheap energy, mass transit and district heat is likely to be a huge advantage.    

But that's just a fantasy about what could have been had ignorance not won.   But ignorance has won.  

Realistically such an outcome is now extremely unlikely, if not impossible, and in any case, climate change has already occurred on a catastrophic scale and it's about to get worse.   This climate change business is more or less over, except for the dying.

In any case, there is good reason to suspect that even if we lived in darkness - it wouldn't make much difference.   As it happens, lighting only consumes about 8% of US electricity.

And there's a new kid on the block, the plasma TV.

This means that even if we chose to live in darkness, as opposed to buying all new CFL bulbs, there are real limits to what we can achieve.

After I began writing this useless diary and had completed the calculations for it, I had occassion to go the library for something.   Although as I write tonight we are having an outbreak of summer like weather - in January - on the night in question it was bitter cold.

What a remarkable thing it was, to think that to account for 2 minutes of driving, I would need to run an efficient lightbulb for 50 hours - should I choose the lightbulb in winter.

It's bizarre really.

Thinking of my calculation, I decided to walk to the library.   The night was clear and, although the milky way was - as always invisible - obscured by car culture, coal, and wood pollutants, as well as the inevitable light pollution, most unlike the night the lights went out.  (cf:  GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 31, L13106-L13110, 2004)

My ears were freezing, and I pulled up my hood, watching my breath condense before my face.   You know, I used to drive to airports, hop on planes and buy lift tickets just to marvel at doing such a simple thing as that, feeling my ears growing cold.  And here I was, getting exactly the same feeling without causing any injury, without spending a dime.

It may have been the most beautiful moment of the week.

Originally posted to NNadir on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 03:55 PM PST.



What's your favorite thing about Vermont?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Fingers burned while removing a lightbulb... (5+ / 0-)

    mercury poisoning and troll rates go here.

  •  If you've got an... (6+ / 0-)

    IKEA in your area, they take the bulbs for recycling. They're the only place that I know of around here.

  •  I am switching to all LED lights (5+ / 0-)

    They use even LESS power than CFL and have no mercury. (Oh and they last even longer than CFLs).

    Edwards-Richardson 2008

    by TekBoss on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:04:00 PM PST

    •  All our night lights, Christmas lites, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ray Radlein, wu ming

      and we're using tap-activated indoor led's for walkway lighting outdoors because I often do testing and prototyping in our garage workshop at night.

      Put them in the old glass sailboat we had last year before we had to move away from cheap dockage.

      We'll move to mainstream led lighting probably not for several years.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:12:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lite Brite (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LIsoundview, Gorette

        That reminds me that it's just about time for me to unplug my Christmas lights — a single string of tiny blue LEDs powered off a USB port in my mouse pad (ah, tradition!). And unplug the tiny USB-powered LED Christmas tree on my monitor with a Star of David on top because the cross that originally came on it vanished somewhere, forcing me to fall back on the alternate tree-topper included with it for use by folks who like sending mixed messages.

        I keep trying to convince my wife that we should switch to electroluminsescent lighting on t-shirts so that we can just wear our own illumination around the house as we walk.

        She is not amused.

        "I play a street-wise pimp" — Al Gore

        by Ray Radlein on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:30:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry, not true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Halcyon, kurt

      Commercially available LED lights generate less light per watt consumed compared to CF's, and the color spectrum of available "white" LED lights is awful. Great for bicycle lights and flashlights, not great for residential use.

      Here's a nice little tutorial (PDF).

      The LED guys in R&D are working really hard, and they'll get there in 5 years or so.

      NNadir's point about running CF bulbs in a space you want to heat anyway is valid, of course.  Although he might get better results with a little heating pad on his beloved's desk chair; more effective heat than a 100W light bulb and less power than an electric space heater. :-)


  •  OMFG (14+ / 0-)

    I love you man, but you thought about that bulb just a leetle too much.  I was pretty amused, but couldn't hold on for the talk about where you calculate the 53 percent nuclear and coal and gas etc. layout.

    Your wife is a saint.

    There are bagels in the fridge

    by Sychotic1 on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:05:33 PM PST

  •  Your wife must know my old toothless cat. (6+ / 0-)

    The basket under the lamp is his warm place.  Or was, until I changed it to a CFL and the much younger and toothfull cat stole the basket.  

    The old toothless cat has yet to forgive me.  So I bought him a recliner.

    fire bad, tree pretty

    by sele on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:08:15 PM PST

  •  Lots of These Fail Early (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eddie Haskell, kurt, khereva

    I quit buying them and only resumed since local stores are having $1 specials on them.

    I've recycled about 40% of the bulbs I ever bought.

    They're made in China like everything else, for cripe sakes.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:10:42 PM PST

  •  Every word you say is true (3+ / 0-)

    There sure were a lot of them.  You've got at least six twelve diaries there, about one per paragraph.  Does your head ever hurt with all the stuff running around in there, I mean, "lutefisk dumps on Staten Island?"  Jeez, "whelped."   You should write a series of diaries on the topics here.

  •  CFL's & Hg (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein, silence, dennisl, khereva

    CFL's have very little mercury in them, and as long as you don't take a deep breath while smashing one right in front of your face, or try to eat them, the risks from the mercury can be easily minimized with a little bit of common-sense cleaning after breaking a bulb and proper disposal.  A typical CFL has 5 mg of mercury, a typical amalgam dental filling has 30 mg of mercury, is there a mercury poisioning epidemic due to dental fillings? NO!!!
    The concerns about mercury from CFL bulbs only need to apply when disposing of large quantities of bulbs.  Recycling/refurbing is best, but proper landfills should have no problem disposing of a CFL bulb.  Just make sure it's not incinerated since that will release the mercury into the air as vapor, that is the most dangerous form.  If you are considering net emmissions from energy consumption, don't forget that even though a CFL bulb has 5 mg of mercury, the emmissions saved from CFL use prevent the release of much larger quantities of mercury from power plants.

    "You don't need a weather man to tell which way the wind blows" - BD

    by demotarian on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:12:26 PM PST

    •  But isn't like (0+ / 0-)

      a landfill filled with discarded bulbs like not a great idea?

      Our muncipality doesn't have any recycling or alternate disposal options for used bulbs either and I have a box load in my basement....  

      "It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush." Hillary Rodham Clinton 12/19/07

      by mudslide on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:21:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sometimes when I think of the collective insanity (0+ / 0-)

      of our times, I'm not convinced that at least some of it, maybe much of it, is mad hatter's disease.

      Hatters were mad.

      It's one explanation for the current occupant of the White House.

  •  What few incandescents I use (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein

    are in fixtures with rheostats like my chandelier. I'm heaaring that a new CFL breakthrough enables one to use dimmers. Anyone else heard more about this?

    Great diary, sir...

    "It takes a Clinton to clean up after a Bush." Hillary Rodham Clinton 12/19/07

    by mudslide on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:12:42 PM PST

  •  'nuther thang 'bout Vermont - (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LIsoundview, sele, willb48

    I've been fortunate to meet several people from there or from here in the southern terminus of the Appalachians who travelled to Vermont for college
    and every one of those folks recieved a college education to go with their diplomas . I've not seen that often. Each of them was someone with whom I volunteered time in environmental organizations , or in the context of other left-wing dogooder organizations and activities. Those schools must be pretty fine up there, what with students getting circulaion going by walking 5 miles uphill through the snow , both ways.  

  •  Dean (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Helena Handbag, kurt, Joffan

    Howard Dean gave birth to puppies once? That is worse than crying, I suppose.

    "I play a street-wise pimp" — Al Gore

    by Ray Radlein on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:20:29 PM PST

  •  I have a question (0+ / 0-)

    Do you exhibit, or have you ever been diagnosed with, obsessive complusive tendencies? Not to be insulting, but I've been wondering about the interplay of the new environmentalist lifestyle with OCD predispositions. Some historians have linked OCD to the occurrences of self-flagellation in the Middle Ages.

    A pessimist is just a well-informed optimist.

    by Marcion on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:21:08 PM PST

    •  Shaper Image has an autoflagellation anti-ionizer (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joffan, Marcion

      Put it next to your bed, plug it in, and it stuffs up your nose so it can whup the snot out of you all night.  Has a power-saver mode, too, for when you're in the kitchen cleaning the sponge with a toothpick before microwaving it.  I know.  I saw it on "Monk."  Forty-seven times.

      "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

      by KateCrashes on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 06:06:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I borrowed a ladder (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ray Radlein

    So I was able to reach the lamps in the ceiling and put in 10 CFL's that I hope last a long time, since it is a pain to climb that ladder. Would be better if my neighbor had a 7 or 8 foot since 6 feet is just barely reachable.

    "Vice President Cheney is expanding the administration's policy on torture to include tortured logic" Sen. Dick Durbin D-IL

    by Tuba Les on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:21:10 PM PST

  •  I'm sorry... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I couldn't make it to the end.

    What's the point of this post?

  •  Wow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LIsoundview, Abra Crabcakeya

    So much for the taciturn Vermonter.

    Thanks for the carpet ride!

    p.s. Middleburyite (or Middlepudlian) here

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:24:49 PM PST

  •  I'm not so sure about (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrFood, Abra Crabcakeya

    "Anti-nuclear fundies".  I mean, what's the big deal?  There are other sources of energy, renewable ones we shall have to invest in within the next five to ten years.  This includes solar, wind, and geothermal energy.  We'll also have to start looking into converting our waste (organic and inorganic) into raw fuel.  Nuclear power may be the conventional wisdom solution, but it's far too dangerous; the nuclear waste has devastating effects which last for thousands of years.

    Another problem I have with writing off opponents of nuclear energy is that it ignores the wishes of constituents who've looked at it and judged it on its merits, and who have exercised their right to oppose its use.

    •  You know... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LIsoundview, Joffan, bryfry

      I've been hearing this pathetic shit for my entire adult life...and I'm an old man.

      I am coming to the conclusion that the anti-nuke cult is pretty lazy.

      I mean, there's an internet these days.   It's not like you have to, god forbid, read a book to find out how many years this crap has been repeated.

      The world's largest form of climate change gas free energy is now, and has been for more than 30 years, nuclear energy.

      Nuclear energy is not perfect.   It's just better than every thing else.   This is a fact repeated throughout the scientific literature with singular regularity in the burdgeoning science of life cycle analysis.

      In fact, for that entire time the "renewables will save us" crowd has been singing the same song with the same degree of laziness.

      If you found 90,000 people who had been injured by used nuclear fuel in this country in the last 50 years - and NOT ONE anti-nuke in my experience has ever been able to do so - you still wouldn't match the number of people killed by dangerous fossil fuel waste in the last 50 days.

      In fact, the whole "renewables will save us" fantasy is increasingly delusional and the best it does is to make nothing happen, and the worst it does, well check out the Sumatran Rain Forest.

      Guess what?

      Humanity used renewable energy for about 15 millenia, and as soon as it found another way, it decided to do so.

      What's the difference between 1800 and now?

      Oh, about 6 billion people.   I have yet to meet an anti-nuke who volunteers to be one of the 5 out 6 people who must die from energy poverty because renewables are such a great idea.

      •  The flaw in your logic is that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        you're ignoring the fact that nuclear waste sticks around as deadly radiation for thousands of years.  Burying it is a huge problem, because if you don't bury it deeply enough the radiation leaks.  And if you  bury it too deep, it contaminates the ground water.  We can't dump it in the oceans, for similar reasons.  Where does it leave us, firing it off into space?  Yeah, I can see the headlines now: nuclear waste shipment explodes in orbit, irradiates upper atmosphere.

        And that's not even taking into account faulty maintenance.  Just look at the Davis Besse and Perry plants here in Ohio.  One is built on a fault line, and one (if I'm not mistaken the same one if not the other) developed a hole in one of its towers that went unchecked for years.

        I wish you'd be a little less hostile to the legitimate concerns we have about nuclear energy, because the danger is not only very real it is all too probable to bite us in the you-know-where before long.

        •  Legitimate concerns? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LIsoundview, NNadir

          You might, just might, have a point if you could actually put forward one accurate "concern."

          "A hole in one of its towers"? Hmmm ... Try again.

          I gotta say, however, you make NNadir's point nicely: knee-jerk anti-nuclear lemmings are pretty lazy -- too lazy to spend a little time actually learning a few things about the "dangers" that they're so "concerned" about.

        •  So, this nuclear waste... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LIsoundview, bryfry
          ...what radionuclides are in it, and what are their half-lives?

          Radiation is not a substance, and it cannot "leak".

          How deep were the radioactive fission products amd transuranics buried at Oklo? Did they escape?

        •  Can someone tell me when (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Ohio last had an earthquake?

          On the issue of maintenance, I thought NNadir fans might enjoy this:

          Another great year for nuclear power

          •  Well, there was the "Great Shake" of 1986 (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            LIsoundview, NNadir

            that rained down devastation consisting of "minor cuts and scrapes from falling ceiling tiles."

            Then there was the "Big One" in 1937 that toppled chimneys.


            Frankly, I'm terrified. Just think of how many ceiling tiles there must be in a 1000 MW nuclear plant! Oh, the cuts and scrapes that could ensue!

            We must stop the maddness!

        •  yes we *could* dump it into the ocean (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LIsoundview, Joffan

          Nuclear byproducts are a glass or ceramic, just like your coffee cup.  Does your coffee cup dissolve in water?  Well, duh, it doesn't, and neither do nuclear byproducts, not on a reasonable time scale anyway.  After a reasonable time scale (300 years), dissolving them is no longer a problem.  Even dumping valuable nuclear fuel into the ocean would kill 120 times less people than dumping coal ash does, and for some reason the latter seems to be entirely acceptable.

          So why don't we just sink so called nuclear waste into the ocean?  Because it's not waste, roughly 97% of it is fuel, large parts of the rest are valuable resources, such as xenon and precious metals, and the only reason why this valuable material is not recycled and the remainder sensibly disposed of is your heap of "legitimate concerns", which in reality is just bad science.

    •  thousands of years is nothing (0+ / 0-) least compared to "forever", which is how long the devastating effects of fossil fuel waste last.  And besides, nuclear byproducts vanish effectively completely in just 300 years.

  •  I buy them for $1 apiece. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, khereva

    The dollar store now sells them for a buck!
    I used to spend $14 on one that didn't even work that well, flickered and made a buzzing noise.
    Of course they come here by freighter from China, so there's the carbon from the freighter.

  •  Let's turn to the light bulb. (4+ / 0-)

    This has to be one of the most entertaining, informative, and fun things I have read since yesterday, when I found an old (but new for me) mystery writer.

    In the United States, doing good has come to be, like patriotism, a favorite device of persons with something to sell. - Mencken

    by agnostic on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:33:05 PM PST

  •  Excellent. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, Abra Crabcakeya

    Your diary made me think and smile and think.


    Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

    by Sassy on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:37:11 PM PST

  •  Most Excellent Diary (0+ / 0-)

    highly recommended! It turned on the geek in me. Nice ending, too.

    Stop rewarding bad behavior.

    by FLDemJax on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:40:06 PM PST

  •  no nukes. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrFood, Abra Crabcakeya

    end of discussion.

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 04:43:49 PM PST

  •  I've lived in Quebec (0+ / 0-)

    most of my life, where virtually all of our electricity comes from hydroelectric dams.  And we heat 8 months of the year.  

    I've never bought a compact fluorescent, except to place in hard-to-reach areas where bulb life was a significant factor.  That's because I know how to count.

    I use dimmers. And I turn the lights off when I'm not in the room. Except in winter, when I don't care so much whether my heat comes from an electric baseboard heater or a 60-watt bulb.

    Mark Twain -Let me make the superstitions of a nation and I care not who makes its laws or its songs either.

    by Kingsmeg on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 05:21:30 PM PST

  •  Don't want to be rude (0+ / 0-)

    but could you write more like this in the future? This was less rambling than usual with better signal to noise (says someone who once wrote a very long post that was labelled "impenetrable"). The point about considering the bigger picture is a good one.

  •  Man your wordie. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I had to quit reading about half way down, cause I want to go look at the big results.
    But let me just say that your condensate pump that has failed is not wired in correctly. Cause should it fail the furnace should not cycle. That way you don't get the flooded ? problem.
    I can tell you more about it if need be but thought I'd give you a heads up.

    Looking for Good Reason

    by Clzwld on Tue Jan 08, 2008 at 05:43:39 PM PST

  •  For all that effort, your calculations are wrong (0+ / 0-)

    You wrote:

    Note:  Coal is a minor contributor to New Jersey's electrical generation.


    If 17.9% of New Jersey's electricity is obtained from the dangerous fossil fuel coal, then ...

    That's where you went wrong. The state's own generation from coal is that low, but its consumption of electricity generated from coal is much higher.

    You provided links showing NJ produces around 60 TWh of electricity a year, but omitted from your calculations the fact that the state consumes around 80 TWh each year. So NJ is a net importer, relying on electricity generated outside the state for a quarter of its supply.

    Most of that electricity generated outside NJ but consumed in it is from Pennsylvania, which is a major exporter (generating far more than it consumes) - and more than half the electricity produced by Pennsylvania comes from coal plants. Actually, not just any coal plants, but some of the dirtiest in the nation.

    So you're deluding yourself when you claim that only 18% of the electricity powering that light bulb comes from coal.

    •  Um, within 50 km of New Jersey's borders (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LIsoundview, Janet Strange, bryfry

      are the Limerick nuclear Station, Three Mile Island, Indian Point, Calvert Cliffs...

      In fact most of PA's nuclear power plants are in the Eastern part of the state, and the amountof nuclear power generated in PA by nuclear power alone pretty much matches all of the power consumed in New Jersey.

      It is true, of course, that only about 1/3 of PA's electricity is nuclear - and dumbass fundementalist anti-nukes are trying to destroy that capacity.

      55% of PA's electricity is from coal, but if you live here, you recognize that most of the coal capacity is in the western part of the state.   It is true that it rains crap from the skies on New Jersey, but that's hardly New Jersey's fault.   New Jersey not only generates nuclear electricity in its borders, but it is surrounded by nuclear facilities near it that do the same.   I could drive to the Limerick nuclear station in a half-hour's time.  

      Any idea what 55% of 25% is?   How about 30% of 25%?

      I personally blame, for this state of affairs the assholes in the anti-nuke cults by the way - the shit for brains who keep saying that "solar will save us," while opposing the world's largest, by far, form of climate change gas free energy.

      Usually, when you run into one of these dolts, they get into nitpicking stupidity of the type that demonstrates that they have missed the point entirely.

      There's one little dumb fucker around here who insists that any data on wind power that is more than 17 minutes old has missed the big wind surge in the last twenty minutes.

      In the meantime, these same fundie fools are trying to shut the Oyster Creek nuclear station, an act that will have a direct and toxic effect on my family.   One cannot hold this idiot crew in deeper contempt than I do.

      In any case, I call for the banning of coal, something that the anti-nuke cult does not do, and I believe it would be wise for my state to build twenty or more nuclear plants in hopes of shutting the coal facilities in PA.   In fact, I would welcome a plant in my home town.    We could certainly use the tax revenue.

      If you are here to applaud PA's coal, though, that's hardly surprising.   There are zero anti-nukes who have the guts to confront coal.   It's why the anti-nuke creeps in Germany are building new coal plants because they couldn't care less about coal and are perfectly satisfied to let it burn until the last kilo of carbon is vaporized.

      •  Yes, ignorance kills (0+ / 0-)

        So you are supplied by a grid (PJM Interconnect) that is more than 50% generated from coal, but like to pretend your supply is far cleaner than that because you can name a few nuclear plants in the region. Being that close to Limerick, you're also not far from some pretty dirty CO2-spewing Pennsylvania plants. Like Brunner Island, Montour, Martins Creek, Eddystone. All in eastern PA. You don't seem too concerned about them, nor any other coal plants in the USA, as they barely get a mention here amongst your frequent rants about coal plants in Europe.

        We both call for banning coal. How can that be achieved? You want 20 new nuclear plants in your state. I wonder what time frame you expect is reasonable for this goal, and what should be done to reduce CO2 emissions in the years it will take those new plants to be built.

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