Posted by: The Paris Apartment | October 16, 2009

Cliff Notes (if you don’t have time to read it all): Compact Fluorcent Bulbs are NOT ‘Green’ on any Level


image via spktruth2power

To think that just a couple days ago, I was so blissfully unaware. All I wanted was to keep my incandescent light bulbs and not become a criminal for using them. I’ve always had a thing for their delicate intricacy. They’ve served us really well over the years and I rarely seem to replace one.


Because I didn’t want to be forced to use the new fluorescent bulbs, I wanted to see why GE is leading such a vehement revolution to vilify them and switch the world from regular bulbs to the Compact Fluorescent Bulbs.

What I found about the CFL promotion is as fascinating as it is frightening.

I’m normally not into politics or even mysteries but his one is coming at me at the speed of light so I’m compelled to post my findings and hear what you think.

The new fluorescent bulbs are a dangerous product in numerous ways: They’re expensive to produce and need even more coal-fueled methods to manufacture and package than regular bulbs, they contain Mercury, and we have to dispose of them as if they’re Hazardous Waste. But that’s just the beginning.

I’m a little embarrassed to say that a few days ago I didn’t know a thing about coal or mining or mountaintops or ‘clean coal’ or carbon capture and storage (CCS), aka, carbon sequestration, or how any of this was related to the light bulb I love so dearly.

What I found is that the coal that runs power plants is the largest source of pollution on the planet and generates 50% of electricity in the United States. As of now, NONE of the US coal facilities produce ‘clean coal’. Most experts (like from MIT and YALE) call the catchy phrase an oxymoron, like saying, ‘Healthy Cigarettes‘. It turns out that coal can never be clean because it means instead of sending CO2 out into the atmosphere, we bury it in the earth where it leaches toxins causing groundwater contamination. Some say to put it into the oceans instead but of course that’s still under debate. and even UNESCO sees it as an option that has more dangerous unanswered questions than answers, and Time Magazine agrees. (Carbon sequestration).

My question is, How did the Clean Coal movement get into our collective consciousness as a real and good thing? The answer? Propoganda. This video of supermodels in a coal mine was produced by GE to entice us into this glamorous world.

Never mind that the new CFL bulbs are exponentially higher to produce than regular bulbs and take a lot more coal to manufacture. Or that the EPA wants us to treat them as Hazardous Waste when disposing of them.

What’s worse is that China and India are about to open 88 new coal plants.

It seems like an uphill battle to fight these Monster Offenders when trying SO hard to go SO green with the new fluorescent light bulb program.

Who’s constructing the new factories in China and India?

It’s the world’s largest coal proponent and polluter on earth, The World Bank.

Just for kicks I Googled World Bank and GE. Guess what?

They’re partners.


So this is what I mean, it’s a story I could never have concocted. Almost like a movie or a conspiracy theory. Or reality.

GE isn’t far behind World Bank as one of the largest polluters on earth, in fact they’re ranked #5 of the top Corporate Air polluters and have a long legacy of leaving an ugly chemical trail they’ve yet to clean up. GE is the largest contributor to Superfund sites. (According to the EPA, Superfund sites are an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people).

Business insider lists GE as one of the biggest ‘Green Phonies of 2009’ touting General Electric as THE most toxic company when considering the amount of population exposed to its pollution and its toxicity level from its plants worldwide.

The really messed up part is that GE and World Bank position themselves as having green initiatives when renewable engery accounts for only tiny fraction of their portfolios.

US based NGO Bank Information Center (BIC) recently published World Bank energy sector lending: encouraging the world’s addiction to fossil fuels, a study on the World Bank’s approach to energy sector investments. The assessment finds that important gains in renewable energy and energy efficiency in recent years still do not compensate for the highly imbalanced financing in favour of fossil fuel development.

The BIC study shows that World Bank fossil fuel lending is on the rise, especially for coal. During its 2008 fiscal year, the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) increased funding for fossil fuels by 102 per cent compared with only 11 per cent for new renewable energy (solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and small hydropower).

Today coal is generating more than half the US electricity. Wind power accounts for less than 1%.

Here’s where GE could excel as a leader but instead of producing the turbines they have the technology and power to make, instead they say they’re on backorder even though they have billions of dollars of orders for them from all over the world. Now, the wind doesn’t blow when the energy demand is high, ie summertime), so there’s skepticism from critics who believe in coal. But we’ll leave that for another day.

One last thing: I don’t claim to be an expert on any of this, I honestly didn’t know they cut off the tops of mountains for coal until last night. When I read this though, I had to start wondering what’s really going on. This report was put out on September 11, this year. Maybe they didn’t think anyone would notice. This doesn’t seem very green.

EPA News Release

EPA Releases Preliminary Results for Surface Coal Mining Permit Reviews (09/11/2009)

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has identified 79 proposed surface coal-mining projects in Appalachian states for further, detailed reviews of their pending permits.
and what’s going on with Australia? I thought they were supposed to be world leaders.

So while China is producing the bulbs, burying waste in the ground, using billions of gallons of water that could go to the world and causing untold damage to our future, please hold off on the bulbs.
Please don’t purchase another thing from GE until we know more about what this company is capable of. It’s beyond the aesthetics of bulbs but now at least Idon’t feel guilty!


  1. Claudia, I am really enjoying learning more about this topic and have been spreading the word. I will do a post soon and link up here. My husband and I had a heated debate over this very topic at dinner two nights ago with some friends. I can’t wait to go do some research and educate myself on this some more. Again, thanks for the eye opening and your passion for the truth! Love ya!!

  2. Thanks so much Judith! As you know I have better things to do than get on some soapbox about any issue, there are so many and well, I’m busy! Still this one is plaguing me. I think it’s because of how much waste is going into the manufacturing (having to mine more Mercury for one and its by products) and that they’re not made here, they’re made where laws are lenient in Asia and India.

    But worst is that they’re considered Hazardous Waste to clean up and use everything from gloves to plastic bags to duct tape. It’s ludicrous and kind of becoming obvious what’s going on.

    Scariest is that some will hotly debate why they’re so great when all their info is through an advertisement from the manufacturer.

  3. Plus they are so ugly…..xv

  4. LOL! I agree for aesthetics alone!
    But in case someone needs other reasons, here’s a petition to stop them for moving jobs OUT of the US to create them

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