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Tag: Recycling

Will LED Light Bulbs Make Any Difference in Reducing Global Warming?

mad max

Incandescent bulbs are now officially banned in the United States. Global temperatures dropped five degrees upon hearing the announcement. That’s sarcasm, by the way. I propose a ten-year study on this issue to determine whether getting rid of incandescent bulbs and replacing them with LED bulbs — oh CFL bulbs, the savior of our world, where did you go? — makes any meaningful difference in US or global temperatures. My money is on no.

Yes, LED bulbs use less electricity, but they also are more expensive. One report says the average American family of three will save a trip through the drive-thru at McDonald’s on their annual electric bill by totally switching over to LED bulbs. The report failed to add the cost of the LED bulbs into their equation, so I suspect the savings is minimal.

Remember when CFL/LED bulb manufacturers said their products would last 5-7 years and proudly advertised this “fact” on their bulbs? Consumers quickly learned this claim was a lie. Most bulb manufacturers no longer make life expectancy claims/warranties for their products. Of course, Americans should be used to manufacturers lying to them. Lifetime warranty on my $8 can-opener, my ass. The federal government should do something about these lies, but it won’t. Campaign donations keep such inquiries and enforcement to a minimum.


Using only LED bulbs is much like recycling — feel-good things we can easily do, but make little difference in battling global warming. If we want to concretely do something meaningful about global warming, we must make hard, painful decisions about how we live and what we consume. First-world countries and rising Asian countries have no interest in doing what is necessary to save our planet (Or better put, save our habitation. Once the next great extinction kills us off, the planet will get on just fine without us.)

Are we willing to drive less, fly less, eat less, buy less, consume less — “less” being the key operative? Can we envision a world where we have less than previous generations? Hard choices are required, but I don’t see the necessary political will to effect such changes. Americans will simply not abide by politicians telling them to do with less. We want what we want, and we want it now. God dammit, we are AMERICANS!

Capitalism lies at the heart of the global warming crisis. As long as companies put profits and shareholder returns above moral and ethical responsibilities, there’s no hope for a better tomorrow. I am not sure that hoping for a better tomorrow is anything more than a fantasy. We glowingly talk about the American dream and American exceptionalism when reality tells a very different story. We can chant USA! USA! USA! WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE! WE’RE NUMBER ONE! at football games and political rallies, but virtually every metric suggests we are a declining empire, that is killing itself one arrogant, self-righteous choice at a time.

By all means, change all your lightbulbs — I have. But, don’t delude yourself into thinking that it will make much difference. I am a cynic, which is just another word for a realist. We have likely crossed the line of no return. Weather extremes are the norm. Our oceans are rising. We continue to kill off animal species at an alarming rate. We stupidly think that “science” will ride to the rescue and save us; that a technological “fix” for what ails us is just around the corner. No such savior is coming to deliver us. We made this mess and now we must bear the consequences of our “sins.”

the road

I will soon be dead, so I don’t worry much about how these things will affect me. My plane is circling the runway, getting ready to land. I do, however, have six children who could live to the year 2060 and thirteen grandchildren who could still be alive in 2100. I have palpable worry and fear for them. What kind of world are Grandpa and Nana and fellow boomers leaving behind? Will 2100 be a technological wonder or a mash-up of Mad Max, Waterworld, and The Road? I want a better tomorrow for them, as all grandparents do, but everything I see and know tells me that difficult days lie ahead for those I love most.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Bruce Gerencser