Bust the Myth
April 14, 2009 - 12:00pm

Chandra Palermo
Chandra Palermo


Sheesh, do we have our work cut out for us. While the lighting industry scrambles to supply more fashionable and technologically advanced options for the increasingly green-minded consumer, a fellow journalist at the venerable New York Times recently wrote a love letter to incandescent bulbs (“Incandesence, Yes. Fluorescence, We’ll See.” Jan. 7, 2007), simultaneously trouncing fluorescents as subpar substitutes.

This is The New York Times, for pete’s sake, a bastion of credibility. But the writer buried commentary about how much fluorescent light quality has improved and how test subjects couldn’t tell a CFL from an incandescent bulb unless they saw the spiral shape, seemingly seeking to obfuscate the facts in favor of supporting his romantic argument that

humans have a primal connection to the flame-like ambience

of incandescent illumination. Yikes.

This is certainly not the only source perpetuating myths about alternative light sources, and it falls to us to repair the damage. I’m hoping the current eco-friendly turn of trends doesn’t fade away like a fad. But we’d better be sure to make our contribution to the cause, and also carve our piece of the pie, while we’ve got the public’s attention. People are hanging onto their tried-and-true bulbs like they do their gas

cars, despite the superior endurance and efficiency of diesel engines. Incandescents are guzzlers, too, according to a quote in the New York Times article from Professor Russell Leslie of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center. Of course, that quote appeared on the second page of the story, only several lines up from the end.

The ball is in our court. Bone up on the tech talk and stock up on the latest products at events like Lightfair Intl. And give fair play to bulbs in your showroom (Point of Sale). We could wait until legislation forcibly strips consumers of the security blanket of incandescence (ALA Update). But that’ll just breed resentment toward other light sources. We need to get customers excited about more efficient technologies, so that not only will they purchase them, they’ll seek the best (and most profitable) of the lot.

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