Every once in a while, you'll hear a joke about dinosaurs. It's usually about their failure to elude extinction, and suggests that they weren't very smart . . . survival of the fittest and all that. It's pretty funny, until you consider that dinosaurs were on Earth for between 165 and 177 million years, which is pretty impressive up against our cute little 200,000 or so. And since the human race has about twenty-seven years left, the joke is probably on us.
One of the many reasons that we're probably not going to make it is that we have a hard time correctly identifying which things are good for us, and for our planet. With moronic enthusiasm, we embraced Styrofoam, fast food, saccharin, Spam, soft drinks, microwaves, MSG, smoking, vaping, aspartame, and hoverboards as great enhancements to our lives, only to later discover that they're deeply nefarious and killing us dead. We keep changing our minds about which foods are healthy. (It turns out that none of them are. See "Nothing Left to Eat," 5/29/17.) And we're quick to hop on trends that will ultimately only hasten our doom.
One such trend is the rash vilification of incandescent light and the commensurate elevation of fluorescents to panacea status. Everyone seems to have leapt onto that bandwagon—accepting lock, stock, and barrel the postulation that these little blessings are better for the environment (a debatable theory, since fluorescent bulbs contain toxic mercury and take much longer to break down). All of a sudden, a type of lighting that was only intended as a cheap alternative for institutions and offices has become ubiquitous, turning up in restaurants, hotel rooms, and even people's homes.
And that would be acceptable, were it not for the fact that fluorescents are imported from hell, where they are manufactured. Their foul emanations deplete your melatonin (affecting your sleep) and your cortisol (affecting depression). They can cause eye strain, headaches, stress, anxiety, obesity, endocrine disruption, poor immune systems, female hormonal/menstrual cycle disruption, increases in breast cancer rates and tumor formation, and disruption of sexual development/maturation. Wins all around. And this is the lighting they use in, of all places, hospitals!
What's more, they flicker, the little bastards. And they do so at such a fast rate we can't catch them doing it, but the effects can include irritability, extreme fatigue, and potentially even tics, seizures, and migraines. What a great modern invention!
Mind you, those are just the effects they know about so far. I don't have proof, but I'm convinced they also cause hair loss, rickets, spleen decay, gas, dandruff, a lack of singing ability, bad taste in clothes, poor depth perception, restless leg syndrome, gluten intolerance, and an increased tendency to drink. I'm almost 100% positive about the last one.
You may have detected a bit of a critical tone in my comments. It’s true: I’ve acquired a fanatical loathing for these vile infiltrators. Why would I want a room intended for slumber to have the ambiance of a 7-11? Why would I deliberately supplement my already significant levels of aggravation with a covertly flickering aggravation enhancer? I would not. In fact, if I were king, my first order of business would be to banish fluorescents. And thenI’d move on to world peace.
(I’ve reconsidered. World peace would be third, after establishing the death penalty for etiquette violations during live theatre. After that,I’d establish world peace.)
In a few years, when our brilliant improvements have wiped out the human race, I only hope we encounter dinosaurs in the afterlife. I believe it will be our turn to be the butt of the jokes.