And other words from readers
I just read Umbra’s responses to the lighting questions and must tell you that I have heard significantly different answers. I was informed that it does indeed take more energy to turn on a florescent light and that if you were going to be returning to a room in 30 minutes or less you should leave the fluorescents on. If it was a standard light bulb, the time period was five minutes (not too far off from Umbra’s).
Regarding full-spectrum lighting, I have read a number of studies on school children that demonstrate that full spectrum does indeed make a difference. I also have personal experience with an iguana that didn’t have full-spectrum light and its skeleton turned to jelly. Plus, try regular fluorescents to facilitate plant growth — I think you’ll quickly notice the benefits of full-spectrum lighting (grow lights).
I take umbrage at the claim that “full-spectrum lighting is a hoax.” True, the term is frequently misused, including by General Electric. But light bulbs and lamps that simulate natural light are widely appreciated by millions of Americans. As the president of Verilux, I hear almost daily incredible comments and stories of appreciation on how our products have helped people see and feel better.
A hoax, I think not. Ordinary light is unbalanced and overly yellow. Yellow causes glare and eyestrain, distorts colors, and reduces contrast, a necessary condition for good visibility. Ever wonder why they call it artificial light?
Please consider other opinions and facts before you malign products that you don’t understand or have not yet experienced.
President & CEO
I don’t agree with Umbra that we should not worry about mercury in compact fluorescent lights. If more and more people switch to these bulbs, they will become a significant source of potential mercury pollution. Four milligrams is a lot of mercury. Saying that it is the size of a period is irrelevant and sounds like something that industry typically says to assure us that we should not worry about some nasty thing they are releasing into the environment.
Since my first compact fluorescents are reaching the end of their lives now, I was glad to find that a local electric supply company here in Missoula, Mont., collects fluorescents for mercury recovery. Umbra should urge folks to find out where they can take their bulbs at the end of their lives.
I have immensely enjoyed the daily articles by Roger Di Silvestro from the National Parks Conservation Association. He is a wonderful writer with vivid descriptions. Learning about one of the people who works for the NPCA has made me even happier that I am a member of the organization and that we have such excellent, dedicated people working in environmental areas so important to us and to this country. We need more heroes like Roger. He is an inspiration.
Rather than make a one-time donation to offset the emissions created by his trip to the Antarctic, Jeff Reifman could invest his money into replacing his automobile with a hybrid-electric car, thereby achieving a more long-lasting environmental benefit. For example, $450 is enough to make a down payment on a new Toyota Prius or Honda Civic Hybrid. Assuming Reifman has auto payments on his present car of roughly $300 per month and that there is some residual value left to apply with the down payment, the increase in monthly payments for the new hybrid will be more than offset by the fuel savings. Furthermore, in six months or so of driving the hybrid, he will have mitigated the environmental impact of his trip, put U.S. dollars into the hybrid automobile industry, and helped the nation become less dependent on foreign oil.
Re: Power Shift
Hats off to whoever wrote “Power Shift!” By stating the case against global warming clearly and boldly, then backing it up with a string of well-reported articles, you made me want to get on my horse and effect change. Or rather, I plan to get on the train to Washington, D.C., to demonstrate against the impending oil war and against the powers that be. Thanks to Grist for the empowering nudge.
The claim by Nature that having fewer children is environmentally harmful is ludicrous and shows an extreme ignorance of ecology.
First, human overpopulation is the biggest and most important problem on Earth. Trying to solve any ecological problems without greatly decreasing human population is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Ecosystems need large areas of wilderness to be healthy, which isn’t possible with anywhere near the current human population. We are far from the only species on Earth and need to stop acting like we are.
Second, the vast majority of people who live alone live in apartments. Do you know anyone who lives alone in a house? If more people lived in apartments instead of single family dwellings, there would be more room for wilderness and wildlife.
While discussing overpopulation is not politically correct, the problem needs to be solved if we are to avoid killing off most life on Earth. While I respect and usually like the work that Nature does, they’re way off base on this one.
San Francisco, Calif.
Re: Green U.
I read with interest the letter from the student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I am the executive director of the Center for Environmental Citizenship. For the last 10 years, we have trained and organized thousands of college students to create environmental change through political action. Starting this year, CEC is launching a clean-energy campaign. We will be working with students around the country to bring clean energy to their campuses and to the country. Students will engage campus administrations, corporate leaders, and elected officials on the topic of clean energy.
A couple of years ago, we helped a student at Colorado University do the exact thing the UNC student is hoping to do — that is, raise student fees for the purposes of buying renewable energy. I would be excited to help out wherever our organization could. We run national, regional, and even on-campus trainings to give students the skills they need to run their campaigns. If you would pass on my information to this student and anyone else who is interested, I would appreciate it. By taking action on clean energy in any way they can, these students will also help make it a key issue in the 2004 elections, which I think we can all agree is an important step to eliminating our reliance on dirty fuels.
Center for Environmental Citizenship
Re: Green U.
I’ve heard of a great scholarship for campus-based environmental programs: The Campus Ecology Fellowship Program, open to undergraduate and graduate students from any college or university in the United States.
This scholarship sounds perfect for this student.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Re: Green U.
As a junior at Virginia Tech, I returned this semester to learn that, due to statewide budget cuts, our campus is no longer recycling. (That includes paper, aluminum, plastic, newspaper, magazines, etc.) It’s pretty appalling. If the school’s mission is to educate and encourage fresh thinking, how can we stand idly by while it trashes the environment?
Re: Quid Pro Snow
Another alternative to salting icy sidewalks is to scatter a very thin layer of clean kitty litter. Well, dirty litter would work, too, but the point is that the clay pellets provide a rough surface to maintain traction even when those Michigan snows sift down and ice up on just-shoveled walkways.