It seemed pretty ridiculous that Republicans were fighting to “save incandescent light bulbs” during the recent debt ceiling crisis. We’ve heard over and over that compact fluorescent light bulbs are more efficient, and therefore can help save electricity. Therefore, most people I know have already replaced their bulbs with CFLs.
But should inefficient bulbs really be illegal? Bjørn Lomborg of the Copenhagen Consensus says it’s worth taking a closer look at the premise that banning things is the smartest way to tackle global warming.
Lomborg says we do need to tackle climate change, but surprisingly argues this does not mean that we should just cut all emissions. Burning fossil fuels also has significant benefits, Lomborg says, and we should weigh those benefits against the costs.
From the Copenhagen Consensus website:
“The solution should be to focus on improving the technology – making the lights safer, brighter, warm up faster, and save more energy, so that more people will replace more of their lights.
But it is not just light bulbs that policymakers have tried to ban. EU parliamentarians voted overwhelmingly to outlaw patio heaters, which one MEP declared to be “a luxury the planet cannot afford.”
Who decides when something is luxurious? And where does this end? Should we outlaw air conditioning or television satellite boxes because some people find them luxurious? Should we ban private cars wherever public transport is available to move us from A to B with fewer CO2 emissions?
Limiting access to the ‘wrong’ light bulbs or patio heaters, ultimately, is not the right path. We will only solve global warming by ensuring that alternative technologies are better than our current options. Then, people the world over will choose to use them.”