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Apparently this is 2007 news, but it’s news to me and to a lot of people I’ve talked to: the Australian government has decided to ban all incandescent lightbulbs in the country by 2010 to encourage the use of alternatives like CFLs.
CFLs are more expensive than incandescent lightbulbs, but they use about 1/5 of the energy (less energy is wasted as heat) and they last longer, so your energy bill can be lower in the long run. In fact, my physics professor last year mentioned that when he was suprised when he traveled to Morocco, a relatively poor country that you’d think could not afford the high initial cost of CFLs. In fact, it turns out that everyone in Morocco uses CFLs because they can’t afford the high sustained cost of running incandescent bulbs.
One common concern about CFLs is that they contain trace amounts of mercury. I’ve heard that CFLs don’t have enough mercury to pose a danger to the consumer (unless you’re a total moron and run over to a broken bulb, inhaling deeply), but I suppose that disposing of them properly could be a concern.
Do you think that Australia’s move to ban incandescent lightbulbs is an example of a government taking positive steps to address the environment, or a decision best left up to individuals?