What on earth is happening to the world? All our touchstones are no more. It started last year when our core trust in the ability of the Japanese to produce reliable brakes for cars was shattered with a massive Toyota recall. Now you can no longer dismissively zoom past a Prius – you have to keep a mindful eye that it could come smashing in to the back of you at the next roundabout. The horrendous earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan was an unavoidable natural time-bomb – but who would have thought it would have triggered near nuclear meltdown, revealing design flaws and dodgy safety procedures? All this in a country that has had more than its fair share of nuclear horror inflicted upon it, and a pride in the design ability of its buildings to withstand natural disasters.You would accept something like this might have happened in Soviet Russia, but surely not Japan – home of bullet trains, micro miniature electronics and karaoke.
Furthermore, in response to the chaos unleashed in Japan, the home of uber-reliability and engineering, Germany has decided to close seven of its 17 nuclear plants. I would have considered Germany to be one of the most tsunami-protected places in the world as it’s almost land-locked line and is buffered from the full force of the ocean by Denmark. But there must be logic in the decision to close the stations.
Meanwhile, back in the Middle East, even our most trusted oil-producing dictators can’t even be relied upon to keep a lid on their populations. Crazed egotistical maniacs failed to see the threat from social networking sites and a tsunami of Twitter messages. They have learned from their mistakes: forming an ousted dictators group on LinkedIn to root out new opportunities. Some say recruiters have lined up a number of job interviews within the lighting industry already.
There are many downsides to this geographical, political and technological turmoil, the most obvious being stratospherically high oil price. This damages our fragile economies and makes all manufactured goods more expensive to produce and transport. The assumption that nuclear power is safe and our route out of carbon intensive energy production is now being questioned.
The positive side is that in a world of high energy prices and uncertain electricity supply, is that finally energy efficiency should be pushed higher up the political agenda. Adoption of energy efficient lighting offers the potential to shave 10 per cent of worldwide electricity consumption. This alone removes the need for many nuclear power plants. However building power stations to satisfy a known and increasing demand is easy. Implementing energy efficiency measures is like a guerilla warfare, fought out building by building, street by street, and niche by niche. It’s difficult to measure and track progress. We have the technology to achieve this today, but as an industry we fail to communicate this to the highest levels. We are weighed down by technologies and lighting applications which are difficult for the outside world to understand.
In the past we used to be good at targeting specific problems and getting them sorted. I remember the year 2000 bug, CE marking and also when we could no longer understand the word EXIT on emergency signs and had to swap to using the running man symbol.
So that’s it, we as an industry need to be pushing hard to get the ‘EU Stupid and Wasteful Use of Lighting Directive 2011’ introduced as soon as possible. Colonel Gaddafi and Mr Mubarak are available to take up the task and lead implementation of the directive, clubbing innocent building owners into adopting the latest energy efficient lighting should not be a problem. Job done.