Thursday, July 03, 2008

Perhaps it's time I had a holiday...

There were two articles on the BBC this week that have slightly riled me – or technically the comments have. First was one on the switch to energy saving light bulbs and how some people are stockpiling them. Basically most of the comments are from people who are affronted by the government’s plan to phase out ‘standard’ light bulbs (incandescents), in fact they are incandescent about it. *laughs hysterically* Gosh I am on good form today… Anyway… I have to say that I am not entirely enamoured by being forced to do things in this sort of way, but I also think that there is an element where as a nation we can be incredibly wasteful and somehow think that we have a right to waste resources and that as long as “we’re not harming anyone else” it’s no-one else’s business. But I think that can be an incredibly selfish attitude and that in years to come we will face the consequences of having no concern over the way we have used and wasted resources.

I accept that there might be medical reasons why low energy bulbs are not right for everyone, but most of the people who commented seem to have made up their minds a long time ago and haven’t actually considered that technology has moved on. Let’s look at some examples:

“I will resist these energy bulbs for as long as possible […] because I have just bought a beautiful light fitting that would look terrible with these bulbs”

I know that some don’t look very nice, but you can now get low energy bulbs that look like normal light bulbs. You don’t have to get the ones that look like a coiled tube.


“Something I didn't see mentioned in your article, is what about those of us with dimmers? I have one in each of the bedrooms; I don't always want full brightness, especially when I am getting up in the mornings or winding down for sleep. Why should I be made to remove these switches in order to use CFLs?”

Well you can buy low energy bulbs that are designed for dimmer switches. In fact I have one in my living room. It works on both dimmer switches or if you have a normal switch you can actually use that to dim it as well.


“Low energy bulbs do not, in any case, save as much energy as claimed. This is because unlike conventional bulbs they produce very little heat. Therefore in a house using low energy bulbs the central heating system will have to work harder to make up the difference.”

Oh come on… Let’s just apply a few pieces of logic to this one. Does using a normal incandescent bulb mean that I can get away without putting my heating on so much or as hot? I think not. Also heat rises, so even if it does give off heat surely it all goes upwards to my ceiling. Finally, since I installed energy saving light bulbs etc my power bill has gone down by over £20 per month (I get all my power from the same company so that takes into account both lighting and heating). Using energy saving bulbs has made a marked difference.

Right, the next article was on councils stealing street furniture e.g. removing Victorian street lights and replacing them with a rather less aesthetically pleasing equivalent. I do have a lot of sympathy for people who are aghast at this and imagine it is particularly galling where the council moves the street light to a ‘conservation area’ elsewhere. I have never contacted my council about this sort of issue but everything else I have spoken to them about, I have found them to be really helpful – both council workers and local councillors. People who work for councils tend to be ordinary people (I mean that in a nice way!). They could be your next door neighbour or the person you sit next to on the tube – and very possibly often live in the same area as you are affected by the same issues. They are not just faceless bureaucracies, even though it might feel like that sometimes.

Anyway this comment riled me:

“The council have no right to go against the wishes of residents, they are servants of the people, not rulers of the people. Every major change should be discussed with all effected residents, and if it is not, then its a clear breach of democracy. But then again when did democracy ever work? Politicians rarely ask the people what they want.”

That is a very purist view of democracy and simply not one that can work in a modern age. We vote for representatives and they then have the challenge of representing all their constituents’ views - those who did and didn’t vote for them. Where you have any sizeable number of people, you will have a range of opinions and sometimes it is not possible to please everyone. Councils do often consult people and they often write to people when planning permission applications come in (or mine does anyway). The alternative is this:

Dear Mrs Smith

Thank you for your recent application to have an extension built on your property. We have to get a view from all local people to make a decision on this, as representative democracy is no longer acceptable. We have checked our records and given the number of issues already pending – from changing the time the rubbish truck starts its route each day to property extensions to deciding the budget to be spent on social services, the referendum on your case will be held in June 2011. Fortunately this will give you time to save up the £20,000 it will cost to run the referendum. However we must receive a 50% deposit within 28 days in order to secure your slot.

Yours sincerely

Your local council “We’re listening”

Democracy certainly has its failures but it could be much worse…

Anyway, you’ll be pleased to learn that by me ranting here, it stops me from taking it out on my fellow tube passengers. Don’t even get me started on that man who drank his can of Diet Coke on the tube yesterday and then when he had finished put his empty can on the floor in front of me for someone else to throw away. There are bins in most tube stations now! Throw away your own rubbish!


Have a good day all...


(no subject) said...

people are stupid. that's that. but REALLY?! some of those excuses are hideously awful and ignorant. nd over light bulbs!!!

i think we might both need holidays...let's go together! =)

Random Reflections said...

no subject - well, I think people just make their mind up and aren't willing to consider that things move on.

As for a holiday, I ws thinking of going to Montreal later in the year. Put it in your diary!