2. Mercury-Filled Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
We have learned a number of things in the last few years. First, the new environmentally friendly light bulbs aren’t. When one breaks, mercury spills into your home environment. And even if they don’t shatter, they still spew out cancer-causing chemicals when you turn them on. They are expensive. The Green Movement tells us they last longer. Poppycock. I started writing down the installation date on the bulbs to see how long they really last. And the longevity is comparable to the old-style bulbs, the ones that cost a third as much.
3. The Boeing 787
I love air travel. I flew over 110,000 real miles last year. I couldn’t wait to get on a new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Not anymore. A series of mishaps has exposed a frightening problem with the plane – electrical components are catching fire. This is no ordinary glitch that Boeing can easily sort out. Boeing has introduced an entirely new design paradigm which causes the problems on the 787, a paradigm that makes the Green Movement happy. Instead of using mechanical energy to power aircraft systems, the 787 uses stored electricity. Electricity is stored in high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, freeing the engines from burning fossil fuel. Boeing jettisoned efficient copper wires, replacing them with lighter aluminum wiring. At the FAA’s urging, it reduced the punch of the batteries because they were known to explode and burn – bringing down at least one 747 that carried them in cargo. The new Boeing design paradigm is a light, electrical, fuel-efficient jet that uses less energy. Sound familiar? Boeing boldly trumpets this new paradigm.
The Boeing engineers are some of the smartest people in the world. So odds are they will sort out the problem, hopefully quickly enough. Until then, I’ll ride on fuel-inefficient MD-80s or 737s. (Update: “U.S., others ground Boeing indefinitely“)