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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

How many of you have heard of Compact Flourescent Lightbulbs (CFLs)? Great. Now, how many of you have them in your home? Yes, uh-huh. Thanks.

You may put your hands down now.

Most likely, everyone has heard about the advantages of CFLs by now: even though the bulbs are pretty funny looking, they use much less power than incandescent and last a great deal longer. By switching to them, we can save money and reduce energy use, thus saving the planet. As my boys would say: booyah.

Do a quick online search for information about CFLs and you get a lot of results extolling their virtues.

Look a little further, though, and you’ll find that there’s more to the story. For example have you heard the following facts?

  • flipping a CFL bulb on and off shortens its life-span; consequently they should be left on for at least 15 minutes.
  • CFLs, while having improved since they were introduced in the 1990’s, can still take a few minutes to reach full brightness and even lose their capacity for brightness slightly over their lifespan.
  • CFLs contain mercury and need to be properly recycled. Throwing them into landfills will pollute the environment.
  • Did I mention that CFLs contain mercury? If one is dropped and broken in the home, it’s hazardous. EPA guidelines say to open your windows for 15 minutes to air out the room. And don’t use a vacuum to clean it up. You’ll spread the mercury into the air.
  • the town of Traer, Iowa did an experiment in 1987. Half the residents switched to CFLs, while the other half stayed on incandescent. Energy consumption went up, presumably because people knew it wasn’t costing as much.
  • the energy bill just signed into law here in the US raises standards over the next several years, effectively outlawing the manufacture of incandescent bulbs by 2014. Other countries around the world also have this goal.
  • on average, CFLs are sized longer than incandescent making them not a good fit for many light fixtures. Will we have to abandon or redesign those fixtures in 6 years?

So why are we discussing light bulbs on a parenting blog? Simple: it was an easy, non-controversial way for me to make my point. (I considered religion and politics for about a nanosecond, but opted for this…for obvious reasons.)

What’s my point? That’s simple too. We live in what has often been called the Information Age. We are inundated with information on every possible topic from morning till night and beyond. Yet more often than not we fail to realize there’s another side to the story. We don’t question where information comes from or test the source. And we don’t consider whether the source of the information has the same agenda as we do.

THAT is something I rant about to Hubby on a regular basis. Poor guy.

A very important aspect of parenting is equipping our children with all the tools they need to function in the world. If we’re going to teach the children to critically evaluate the information that comes at them from all sides at ever-increasing speeds, then we’ve got to know ourselves how to do it. Tune in next time for some tricks to help you critically evaluate information.

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Earnest Parenting: tips for parents who pursue the truth.