If only Thomas Edison had invented a different light bulb.
I speak of the incandescent bulb, one of the greatest inventions of the last 125 years. By sending an electrical current through a thin filament the filament resides inside a bulb to keep the oxygen out light is produced.
Several inventors worked on the concept until Edison's bulb went mainstream in the late 1870s. His carbonized-bamboo filament could last up to 1,200 hours. The cheap, long-lasting bulb was born.
Edison's idea has been so wildly successful, we've been taking it for granted for years. Because incandescent bulbs are so cheap and plentiful, virtually every home in America has dozens of them. You walk into a room, flip a switch and, presto, let there be light!
But some folks aren't happy with the Edison bulb anymore.
According to The Wall Street Journal, our Democrat-led Congress passed, and our president signed into law, an energy bill that will kill off the old bulb within the next 12 years. The bill sets energy-efficiency standards for all light bulbs that the incandescent ones cannot meet.
Why would our government do away with one of the most effective inventions in history?
As electricity passes through the filament in the old bulb, you see, the filament gets white hot and produces light. That takes a lot of electricity. The electricity comes from the electric company, which burns coal to produce it. Coal burning emits nasty greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The Edison bulb, the argument goes, is contributing to global warming.
It's better that we use more-efficient fluorescent bulbs, halogens or LEDs, we're told. The small fluorescent bulbs are french-fry-looking things that are filled with mercury vapor. When electricity passes through the vapor, ultraviolet light is produced.
The fluorescent bulb has its good points. It uses a fourth as much energy as the old bulb. It lasts lots longer, too. Even though it costs up to six times as much, it saves dough in the long run.
But there's a downside. The fluorescent bulb has an odd flicker and glow. It lacks the warmth and charm of its incandescent predecessor.
What's worse, according to the Telegraph: The little buzzing gases inside the new bulb trigger migraines in some people. Folks with epilepsy and lupus may also be adversely affected.
Plus mercury is a poison. If the bulb breaks, mercury fumes will fill your house not good for a fellow who throws parties in which lamps are frequently knocked over.
But there's no point in dwelling on the new law now. A perfect storm a coalition of environmentalists, manufacturers and politicians has sealed our light-bulb fate forever.
Environmentalists are aglow that the new bulbs will emit much less greenhouse gas into the environment.
Manufacturers are even happier. When the old 50-cent bulb is gone, consumers will be have to pay up to $3 to buy the fluorescent one. The higher-cost bulb will conceivably produce higher profits.
Politicians are the happiest of all. Since much of the public is convinced man is causing the Earth to melt, lots of folks will praise our courageous leaders for sending the old bulb to its grave.
But while the rest of America is jumping for joy, I've got my own bone to pick with Edison.
He and others invented ingenious machinery that dramatically improved the quality of life for mankind. Massive machines drove massive industrialization, which was the backbone of the incredible wealth and productivity we enjoy today.
But those same inventions such as the Edison power plant, for instance have been emitting nasty greenhouse gases into the atmosphere for years. That's why some folks are in a tizzy about the light bulbs we use.
If only Edison had anticipated the environmental problems his inventions would cause. If only, back in the 1870s, he had invented the fluorescent bulb instead of the energy-wasting incandescent one the government is making us do away with.
Some bright idea his light turned out to be.