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As a Mathamatician I See The Environmental Issue as a 'Multi-Variable" Problem.

Updated on August 22, 2009

Now I'm not sure how many of you have tried to solve a math problem by trial and error but even a 2 variable math problem can be tricky because what ever you do to one variable changes the other, so it is a juggling act. Of course in math there are techniques to handle this but lets say we make it 4 or 5 variables--now even the techniques become awkward. The environment has far more than 4 or 5 variables and there is not an easy solution to any of them.

Lets take saving energy; something as simple as lighting. You can reduce your bower bill by using CFLs (compact florescent lights), but Florescent lights contain mercury so disposing of them pollutes the environment. It is kind of like health, what is good for you today is found to cause cancer tomorrow. With the environment, however, there are social and political issues that add to the internal diametrically opposed issues. How can you be right all of the time? The fact is you can't, but you should always try to be as right as you can be. LEDs are considerably more expensive than CFLs but so far they have no harmful side effects for the environment. They do have harmful effects on the wallet however. A very high quality LED bulb such as the GeoBulb can cost up to $100.00 a bulb and while they last 5 to 10 times longer than CFLs and use a fraction of the energy that CFLs do, the initial bulb expense is a bit beyond what the average consumer can confront.

For the environment they are the best choice but over a 10 year period the CFLs are cheaper. Incandescent bulbs however cost way more over a 10 year period--they aren't even in the running. Now this is all dependent on if the CFLs last as long as they should. Some of the cheaper ones don't, you need to be sure to get a good brand. CFLs also won't last if they are being turned on and off frequently so they would be a bad choice for a closet or a room where the light is turned on and off continuously. LED's don't have that problem but how do you know that they will last 30,000 hours or whatever they are guaranteed for? You don't actually, not unless you buy one and keep track of how long it lasts. So economics is another factor, do you invest $100.00 in a light bulb to see if it works. Well I guess that would depend just how strong ones desire to help the environment was. So the point is that even something as simple as choosing a light bulb can be multi-variable and that is a very small issue compared to the whole Global Warming issue

Different lighting.

The Sun's energy that reaches the earth is greater in one hour than the earth's yearly energy consumption.
The Sun's energy that reaches the earth is greater in one hour than the earth's yearly energy consumption.
This is a GeoBulb and it sells for just under $100.00. I sell them special order only on my site. I don't sell many.
This is a GeoBulb and it sells for just under $100.00. I sell them special order only on my site. I don't sell many.
This is another LED it is much less expensive than a GeoBulb but it is only equivalent to a 30 or 40 watt bulb- of course it uses under 7 Watts so there is a big power savings.
This is another LED it is much less expensive than a GeoBulb but it is only equivalent to a 30 or 40 watt bulb- of course it uses under 7 Watts so there is a big power savings.
Here is your Traditional CFL. You can get these anywhere. Just be sure to get a good brand and ask if you aren't sure.
Here is your Traditional CFL. You can get these anywhere. Just be sure to get a good brand and ask if you aren't sure.
Here is a light (an LED) that is powered by a solar panel. Strangely enough it is cheaper than a GeoBulb and that is with the solar panel.
Here is a light (an LED) that is powered by a solar panel. Strangely enough it is cheaper than a GeoBulb and that is with the solar panel.
This is a solar powered lamp post- how much money could they save in Central Park with these?
This is a solar powered lamp post- how much money could they save in Central Park with these?
This is a solar powered Light that gives a little atmosphere.
This is a solar powered Light that gives a little atmosphere.
You can even light up you address with Solar lights.
You can even light up you address with Solar lights.

Lets take a closer look.

In an article published on Dec.1st 2003 in the New York Times the following was said: "The Energy Department estimates that if every American homeowner simply replaced the incandescent lighting in his or her five most frequently used fixtures with compact fluorescents, the nation would save 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity consumption -- the equivalent of shutting down 21 power plants. The cost of fluorescent bulbs is typically 8 to 10 times that of incandescents, but that initial outlay would be offset over time by their much longer life and by lower electricity bills. (As an added benefit, the Energy Department estimates, utilities would emit one trillion fewer pounds of the types of gases that contribute to global warming.)"

Now there is no mention of mercury, but you can see that using energy efficient bulbs could make a big difference. If you are an elite "conserver" and can afford $100.00 a bulb you could increase those figures. You could go to the bank and borrow $1000.00 to buy 10 light bulbs.

Now as impressive as these figures are, light bulbs alone will not halt Global Warming, but they would help. No one thing will stop global warming and some of the things that will help create other problems, like the mercury in the florescent bulbs. It is a balancing act and it would be great if everyone did as much as they could to make it happen, but they don't. I understand why they don't- people are often caught up in their own problems and feel if they have trouble solving those how can they solve big problems that affect the whole planet. It is hard to take a step back and see that some of the solutions like the light bulbs actually save you money in the long run which solves a personal problem, not a world wide problem. But if you can help with a planet-wide problem at the same time-Why Not?

Now there is also outdoor lighting powered by the Sun. These use LED's in combination with small solar panels. Like anything else these things come in all sizes and qualities but they all have one thing in common. They use no electricity from your power company-they charge by day and shine by night. If you have an outdoor area that needs to be lighted for any reason this would be the only way to go. I say this because they require no wiring so installation is not expensive or difficult- some of them you just go out to your garden and and stick it in the ground. So even if these were expensive which they aren't they would be cheaper than the wired in electric posts just because on the wireing involved.

They make solar powered bar lights that can line your sidewalk or garden keeping you on the path or out of the garden. There are Solar Powered address lights that light up your address so your guests can find you at night. There are old fashioned solar lampposts that require no wiring. There are even solar powered holiday lights for making Santas, angels, snow men, manger scenes, you name it, all powered by solar panels. I like to go out and see the decorations- some people make impressive displays- but I'd hate to have their electric bill. This also does not help bring Peace on Earth from the Global Warming stand point. They could have used solar powered lights and helped save the planet.

Anyway the above are things you could do and sometimes just knowing that takes some of the complexity out of it.

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    • GreenMathDr profile image
      Author

      GreenMathDr 8 years ago

      That is entirely possible that this is the case- the solution becomes the problem. I really don't know if any one can win the global warming debate though because there are so many variables and possibilities and of those it is hard to tell the degree that man is contributing to these effects. Politicians never solved anything of significance because they are too busy being political.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 8 years ago from NJ, USA

      Looks like there's two of us carrying the flag for 'careful' Green products - there's never one simple solution! I'm going to look into the LED bulb - my concern is that there are environmental issues we're not aware of yet with LEDs - I guess as long as we watch we can adjust. I've constantly argued that we need to look closer at the whole Global Warming debate (or lack of it) - there are plenty of scientists who don't wholly agree but don't stand up as it can ruin their careers - what we need is proper scientific debate - take the control out of the hands of the politicians! There are major problems - but the solutions they are coming up with cause just as much problems - aside from making a lot of very rich people!

    • GreenMathDr profile image
      Author

      GreenMathDr 8 years ago

      Thanks- If there ever was a multi-variable problem it is the environment. I tend to think of things in terms of math and logic since it is a part of my nature. I can argue both sides of the Global warming issue but I lean towards doing what I can about it since I think of it as the safest course of action.

    • asalvani profile image

      asalvani 8 years ago from London, UK

      Hey this is a refreshing hub. I love the idea of mathematical thinking involved in the environment, it looks very convincing to me!

    • profile image

      TheGreenMathDr 8 years ago

      Thanks for the comments. These are actually the first 2 comments I have ever had- does it show that I am new to the program? Yes the Incandescent bulbs use many times the energy and the exact amount can be computed from the wattage rating. I use compact florescent bulbs that are just over 10 watts and my wife complains that they are too bright. She didn't like them at first but when she saw the difference in the electric bill (she is notorious for leaving every light in the house on.) she finally accepted them.

    • sixtyorso profile image

      Clive Fagan 8 years ago from South Africa

      Great Hub very interesting. Energy saving from an entirely different perspective.

    • glassvisage profile image

      glassvisage 8 years ago from Northern California

      I love this! Environmental issues from a mathematician's perspective... novel idea here on HubPages :) I love the facts, the news bytes, the numbers, the logic... I can't believe how much more energy-consuming incandescent is over fluorescent! Great Hub!

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