Technology is often presented in different ways to those in which it is applied. It's down to human beings to exercise self control alongside the creativity that creates technological wonders.
Technology is great...and I know you can sense a "but" coming.
And the "but" is the law of unintended consequences.
Consider the light-emitting diode and the solid-state light. Humanity has gone from burning candles to gas light to incandescent bulbs to fluorescent strip lights and now we are now entering the era of LED solid-state lighting.
The advantage that drives adoption comes from the greater efficiency of energy conversion in LEDs and the fact that far less energy is "wasted" in the form of heat. Cost efficiencies should also come from the fact the LED lights can be engineered to last much longer than incandescent bulbs.
The benefit of solid-state lighting is usually presented thus; you can have the same amount of light for much less energy outlay. That's good for the householder and good for the planet. It may not be so good for the energy supply company but not many people care about that.
But I argue something different is going to happen; is already happening.
Because the energy consumption and cost of running lights is reduced by the move to solid-state lighting, householders and corporations and authorities both local and national are tending to install more lights, including outdoor lights in particular and just leave them to be controlled by day/night sensors.
So, effectively, we collectively may spend slightly less money and consume slightly less energy on lighting our lives but we will also have much more light, all day and all night. That's reasonably good for the energy companies but not particularly good for people or the planet and bad for astronomers who wish to look at the stars without their vision being obscured by skyglow.
That's not to say the LED lighting cannot be made more energy efficient than previous forms of lighting and should not be adopted. It can, it should and it will. But at the same time it is necessary to implement appropriate controls to prevent energy waste and unnecessary light pollution.
One aspect of lighting is that when you exercise your human right of expression to install and operate a little porch light you destroy the darkness or add to the light pollution for miles around.
This law of unintended consequences reminds me of a quote attributed to Walter Brattain, one of the co-inventors of the transistor. After Brattain retired from Bell Labs he returned to Walla Walla, Washington, to teach at his alma mater Whitman College. He said his one regret about inventing the transistor was its application to transistor radios that continuously played rock and roll music around the campus.
Brattain's idea that the transistor radio suddenly meant that for the first time there was noise everywhere and continuously has a parallel with the advent of LED lighting.
Frank is more right than he knows!
There is an earlier link here in the thread that is interesting.
I do not agree with the author in criticism of for example LEDs - but see point 6 energy savings and the institutional references
eg. Cambridge University Network under Sir Alec Broers, Chairman of the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, Scientific Alliance newsletter
"The total reduction in EU energy use would be 0.54 x 0.8 x 0.76% = 0.33%,
This figure is almost certainly an overestimate, particularly as the inefficiency of conventional bulbs generates heat which supplements other forms of heating in winter.
Which begs the question: is it really worth it?
Politicians are forcing a change to a particular technology which is fine for some applications but not universally liked, and which has disadvantages.
The problem is that legislators are unable to tackle the big issues of energy use effectively, so go for the soft target of a high profile domestic use of energy... ...This is gesture politics."
And it's not even
"Every little helps" logic...
the marginal savings are swallowed not just by the other factors, but since such lighting is used off-peak at night when there is surplus electricity wasted anyway (not least coal).
The overall issue of unnecessary consumption
might need looking at - but in the case of citizens switching lighting, and the society gains from it, it is simply about dumb citizens unnecessarily stopped in their choices.
All lighting types have advantages, in different applications around the house.
Yes lighthouse is right!
People keep confusing lighting usage, with actual national switchover savings from banning domestically used incandescent bulbs.
The switchover savings are negligible, fractions of 1% on the institutionally linked data (I checked, also other sources),
and that is swallowed anyway as they are used off-peak at night when there is surplus electricity wasted.
It is just a case of telling dumb consumers they can't use what they want.
Why should we bother Frank?
Because, in my view, we have a responsibility to limit the impact we collectively (and therefore individually) have on the planet.
There is a conflict between human beings as inherent consumers enjoying exponential growth in numbers and the long-term sustainability of their place on the planet.
I don't have an answer but maybe we can pull back on consumption to give the next generation a change of finding one?
Why should anyone bother with saving 1-2% of the grid usage by converting to LED lighting? Our politicians want us all to start driving EVs, which will result in exponential increases in electricity consumption, requiring massive investments in new generating capacity.
The 1-2% savings from LED lighting will seem a bit Quixotic in an era in which per capita electricity consumption moves to record highs never before imagined.
This was something that I said myself several years ago, and it is only now that others are beginning to realise it.
As cheaper and more efficient CFL and LED lighting became available, consumers could now afford more of these for the original price of one incandescent bulb. Consequently they are tempted to install more lights resulting in more light nuisance and light pollution.
Consequently we need more stringent legislation to govern the application of lighting at night. For most purposes, 11p.m. curfews and motion operated lighting, in combination, would be ideal, in order to reduce the negative effects of lights being on all the time after dark.
Lighting in rural areas is not appropriated and should not be installed unless it is absolutely necessary.
Vanity lighting, in the form of skybeams, lasers, and floodlit buildings and monuments are unacceptable in, or if they can be seen from, residential, suburban or rural areas.
Regarding saving energy by using motion-sensing technology, I often see our outside lights turned on by animals running through the yard and even by wind blowing weeds. That doesn't save energy!
As far as utilities not raising rates due to conservation, here in New Mexico we have had the main utility request rate hikes citing the reduced energy usage as the reason for requiring the increase.
Unfortunately, it is not only the night sky that we are missing, but the beauty of the night itself. That we like darkness is obvious by the fact that, if the light of a street lamp gets too much into our room, we close our window blinds in order to sleep; that we like to go to dimly lit restaurants and bars; and that we love the dim light of candles and fireplaces. And yet the tendency today is to flood our cities with artificial light and eliminate darkness altogether. In this respect, CFLs may have a bad environmental impact, because having to pay for the energy can stop us from using too much light; if CFLs are as cheap as it is advertised, this will lift this economic obstacle to light pollution, while the increased usage may mean that the true energy savings may be considerably less than 150 GW.
In summary, all the fuss about CFLs is about a debatable 1% of alleged energy savings, accompanied by toxic waste, light pollution, and worse light quality."
Just came across this, from 2009,
by a Greek philosopher (ok, scientist!)
In his mention of "future use of CFLs", much surely applies to LEDs too...
Antonis Christofides, "On banning the bulb"
Extract, following a section about supposed energy savings...
"Interestingly, I doubt even that we are going to actually have these alleged savings of 150 GW, because people have the tendency to use as much energy as they can.
If you replace your lamps with CFLs, you will probably be less careful about switching them off when you don't use them, because you know that they consume much less power.
The phrase "lights will never go out" in Siemens' press release reflects a way of thinking that is dominant in society.
We use more and more light, wanting our cities to be more and more luminous. As a result, we have destroyed the night sky, whose beauty has been occupying poets for millenia, whereas words like "twilight", that were once common in our vocabulary, today are strictly academic.
Ah, Peter is also the article author, missed that :-)
Anyway, the point about turning off lights is well made, not least for Gov politicians telling others what bulbs they can use, while leaving their buildings lit up all night.
Saw the milky way in the night sky recently out in the countryside. Breathtaking.
Perseid meteor shower
"peak over Britain Saturday 11th Aug"
...if you can see it!
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