Jim reminds us yet again about political ineptitude via knee-jeck reaction. This one by Malcolm Turnbull may be forgotten by many, but not those who curse and cuss when they have to buy a light bulb at triple cost, half the light and shorter life span. Another Turnbull flub! GC.Ed.
Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs – twirly bulbs – can provide the same amount of light as incandescent light bulbs, using one quarter of the energy. A belief, as strong as any religious one, is that they will make a difference to dreaded carbon emissions, and perhaps to the household budget.
Under the grip of worldwide mania, a wild-eyed messianic Malcolm Turnbull persuaded his brain challenged mates in the Liberal Party to make their use compulsory.
There was not the slightest evidence that their use would have an effect on Global Warming, or Son of Global Warming, or Climate Change but there was just a chance that it might – and that was what did it.
The Precautionary Principle.
The Precautionary Principle?
Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Put it another way – it means ‘just in case’.
The principle is applied everywhere now, but it started as a Green mantra to chant in debate as a substitute for thinking.
Greens knew there was insufficient evidence to do many things – like building desalination plants – but by elevating the common sense ‘just in case’ to an ersatz philosophical position it gave them persuasiveness when dealing with soft headed politicians and journalists.
But, even applying the very same principle to CFL bulbs should there not have been tests to see whether or not they were dangerous to humans? True there might be a billion to one chance that they would save the world from becoming a smoking cinder; but what if they gave cancer?
Dum, DE DUM Dum!
Well, time has passed and just now this little bit of research has been carried out: - The Effects of UV Emission from Compact Fluorescent Light Exposure on Human Dermal Fibroblasts and Keratinocytes In Vitro. Or to put it another way What Happens When Human Skin Cells Are Exposed To Twirly Bulbs?
The research was done, according to Scientific American, after reading an article in an Israeli newspaper that reported a spike in skin cancer on a communal farm when residents switched to fluorescent bulbs.
What the abstract says – and it can be read in full here is that, while exposure to twirly bulbs was known to exacerbate existing skin conditions; the effects of CFL exposure on healthy skin tissue have not been thoroughly investigated. So this was done.
And the finding? Ultra violet (UV) radiation was seeping through the cracks in the phosphor coating and causing damage to skin cells.
This UV radiation is what causes skin cancers and melanomas.
Many medical practitioners would advise that this research should be taken cum grano salis – with a grain of salt. Particularly if it is hyped in the media – as it is.
But before ending incandescent lights, which incidentally got a clean bill of health in the same study, and forcing the Australian population to buy the twirlies, shouldn’t this very study have been conducted?
On the wonderful precautionary principle?
And now that the research is in, applying that same principle, shouldn’t they be banned?
If there is a statistical growth in skin cancers in areas like Victoria and Tasmania, what will happen?
Of course, there will be talk of further studies, and close watch being kept, and all the usual flannel.
Then the lawyers will strike. And so they should. Whether or not there are any cases of cancer from the use of twirly bulbs – the fact is they should have been tested – on the very same principle that saw them shoved down Australian throats. No choice – just buy them.
And they were not tested – at all.Jim McCrudden is a retired lawyer, a scholar of Dickens, Shakespeare and many others. He lives on the NSW South Coast and has keen interest in politics.