Shocking lighting news?

As noted earlier in these pages, ecologists are once again running head on into Original Sin. This time it’s with the issue of compact fluorescent bulbs, or “CFLs.”

Because the more energy consuming, traditional incandescent light bulbs are being phased outat least for now—technologies like CFLs are being used more and more.

The problem is, while CFLs save tons of energy (and reduce tons of greenhouse gas emissions), their use and improper disposal is releasing tons of mercury into our air and water. And as you know, mercury is not something we want in our air, water or us.

The LA Times reports about it here, with some snippets below:

The nation's accelerating shift from incandescent lighting to a new generation of energy-efficient bulbs is raising an environmental concern: the release of tons of mercury every year.

The most popular new bulb — the compact fluorescent light bulb, or CFL — accounts for a quarter of new bulb sales. Each contains up to 5 milligrams of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that's on the worst-offending list of environmental contaminants.

As a result, U.S. landfills are releasing more than 4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and storm water runoff, according to a study in the Journal of the Air and Waste Management Assn.

A San Francisco hardware store owner is all too familiar with the bulb issue.

"They're promoting them and giving them away, but there's nowhere to drop them off," said Tom Tognetti, co-owner of Fredricksen's Hardware

None of this is surprising to Catholic ecologists. Sin stops us from getting and doing things right. Our technologies have trade offs and our self-interest keeps us from taking on extra tasks, like returning spent CFLs to a properly licensed recycler (if, indeed, there is one). Like batteries (which create their own issues when disposed of in landfills) CFLs are just so easy to toss in the trash. And who’s going to notice?

And so here we have it all: Human sin at war with our best intentions. And the winner is?

Consider this another reminder of why we’re in Lent—of why our trust must always be in the Triune God, and not in our selves or in our technologies, as necessary as they are.

Fiat lux.

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About the Blog

Catholic Ecology posts my regular column in the Rhode Island Catholic, as well as scientific and theological commentary about the latest eco-news, both within and outside of the Catholic Church. What is contained herein is but one person's attempt to teach and defend the Church's teachings - ecological and otherwise. As such, I offer all contents of this blog for approval of the bishops of the Church. It is my hope that nothing herein will lead anyone astray from truth.