In Virginia, General Electric is shutting down its last incandescent lightbulb factory, marking the end of an era in American illumination - and factory jobs.
Hundreds of workers will be laid off next month when the GE factory shuts its doors. This tragedy reveals the ugly side of technological change. Though the incandescent was the reigning electric bulb across the globe for over a century, perfected and marketed by famed innovator Thomas Edison, it is no longer the best technology in terms of energy consumption. To save energy (and power bills) Americans are turning to compact fluorescents. Nighttime illumination will never look the same.
According to the Washington Post, in a fascinating feature on the lightbulb manufacturing industry:
What made the plant [in Virginia] vulnerable is, in part, a 2007 energy conservation measure passed by Congress that set standards essentially banning ordinary incandescents by 2014. The law will force millions of American households to switch to more efficient bulbs.
The resulting savings in energy and greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to be immense. But the move also had unintended consequences.
Rather than setting off a boom in the U.S. manufacture of replacement lights, the leading replacement lights are compact fluorescents, or CFLs, which are made almost entirely overseas, mostly in China.
Images via Getty.