Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mercury poisoning

I'm against capital punishment, not as a matter of principle, it's just played out so terribly. However, the one crime that we, as a society, should threaten death for is inappropriate disposal of compact fluorescent light bulbs. These suckers are so much more energy efficient that it's better for the environment and your credit card—the one that you're about to default on—for you to throw away all your incandescent light bulbs right now and replace them with CFLs.

The only problem is that CFLs leak mercury into landfills if they're disposed in regular trash.

"But I don't know what else to do with my old CFL." you say. "Can I just throw it in the trash? One lightbulb doesn't matter that much."

Sure, one lightbulb doesn't, but millions do. All the salmon will die.

The thing is, this is a difficult rule to enforce. We have all sorts of rules against, say, deviant practices or drug use, that could only be enforced thoroughly if the police had cameras in everyone's bedroom. Throwing away a CFL is even more discrete, though, and actually hurts other people.

If you speed, does your going eleven miles per hour over the speed limit truly cost society $50? It's got to be way less than that. The police figure that they can't catch you all the time, so they have to make the consequences unfair. The harder it is to enforce a rule, the more disproportionate the consequences should be.

Thus, if anyone actually gets caught throwing a CFL in the trash, their punishment should be death. Or, perhaps, torture, then death. We could harm their families too. It's not fair, but it's only way to get the rest of us to dispose of our CFLs safely. It's either them or the salmon.

[To appropriately dispose of your CFL, check out this directory; these are the best spots for Southwest Baltimore. You can also visit Ikea or oodles of Home Depots.]

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