It gets tiresome, responding to those who say this cold winter proves global warming a hoax, or that compact fluorescents only belong in Stalinist work camps. That doesn't stop some of the better British writers from trying, even though they are talking to a wall. James Randerson does a great job of demolishing the anti-CFL cranks who clearly have not seen one since 1999:
So what about the supposed evils of CFLs? Well, say the stick-in-the-muds, they give off a cold blue light (which apparently makes them think of murder and ethnic cleansing), not the lovely warm glow of traditional bulbs, with their snuggle-up-by-the-fire associations. This is the worst in straw-mannery. OK, the old CFLs were not so great, but good quality new models do not give a suicide-blue glow and the light they give out can be made "warmer" with yellow filters. This argument is like saying you don't like mobile phones because you can't fit brick-shaped objects in your pocket.
Likewise, the old chestnut that they are too dim when you turn them on and take weeks to warm up or that they flicker visibly. Perhaps true for a late-90s eco-bulb, but not today's technology. CFLs typically warm up in 5 to 10 seconds now and they flicker at between 30,000 and 50,000 times per second. Far faster than the human eye can perceive.
Lastly there is pollution. CFLs contain around 5mg of mercury - a toxic heavy metal. This means they should be recycled so that the mercury does not contaminate ground water. But it does not mean they are the cause of a mercury pollution problem. They are in fact part of the solution. Because of the extra coal - a major source of mercury pollution - that is burned in order to light an incandescent bulb, this form of lighting leads to roughly 3 times more mercury being released into the atmosphere compared with a CFL bulb.
More in the Guardian: Good riddance to incandescent lightbulbs
More on Incandescents vs Fluorescents in TreeHugger:
Six Uses For Old Dead Incandescent Bulbs
Only in America: The "Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act"
We Love Our Gorebulbs!
What About Mercury From Compact Fluorescents?
Popular Mechanics Compares CFLs
Skaters in Binsted, 1890
George Monbiot writes a lovely piece about the joys of skating, and how this winter is being misused and misinterpreted:
I have spent the last two evenings skating. Last night we laid lanterns out across the ice and swooped and swung and fell flat on our faces on this silent lake in mid-Wales, for hours by moonlight. I should have been in bed - I have a chest infection and a cold - but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
For the exhilaration of this primal game was shaded with sadness: all of us knew that this time might be our last. It is many winters since most of the lakes in England and Wales have frozen hard enough to support a skating party; with every year the chances of another one recede. The fuss this country has made about the current cold snap reminds us how rare such events have become.....
When heatwaves strike, climate scientists and environmentalists tend towards caution, explaining that though such events may be consistent with predictions they cannot be used as proof that climate change is taking place: only the long-running global trend is a reliable guide. If anyone is foolish enough to present a heatwave as clear evidence of manmade climate change, the deniers jump all over them. The same critics then use every snow flurry or frozen puddle as evidence of the collapse of global warming theory.
The thought that I might never skate outdoors again feels like a bereavement. I pray for another cold snap, even though I know it will bring all the nincompoops in Britain out of their holes, yapping about a new ice age
George Monbiot: Skating on Thin Ice