Canada's Conservative government may not have caught global warming religion, but it has at least seen the light bulb - if not the light.
Following the lead of Australia, Ontario and Cuba, the feds last week ordered a ban on cheap but obsolete incandescent bulbs which - perhaps designed to imitate politicians - waste most of their energy generating heat rather than light.
Hats off to the warmed-over neo-cons.
They've turned a corner and brought back one of the lost tools of government, the ban.
Lest we forget, there have been next to no bans on anything - save backyard pesticides and cigarette smoking in public spaces - since the ban on government legislation on health and the environment proclaimed when free traders and deregulators took control in the 90s.
Ironic though it seems, it's the most reactionary government in Canadian history that finally broke the spell.
It may just be that government is back in the business of passing laws enforcing public safety rights. It no longer has to rely exclusively on ad campaigns urging people to do the right but (thanks to hidden government subsidies to the energy industry) more expensive thing.
Perhaps we can now get beyond governments telling citizens to flick off, as if energy efficiency is about behavioural habits of individuals, not technological habits of corporations.
A ban presumes that government ad campaigns designed to persuade individuals to save the world one flick at a time or buying one right thing at a time are not the most effective ways to prevent global warming.
Even more profoundly, the decision to ban concedes that public health and environmental matters deserve to be classified as public safety issues that require the protection of law and should not be left to the whims of consumer choice.
Forceful laws protecting people from fires, building collapses, contagious diseases, poisoned or disease-causing foods, hazardous workplace practices and dangerous drivers all became commonplace in Western democracies during the 1800s and 1900s.
Alas, both environmental and enviro-related food matters burst into public consciousness and political debate too late to benefit from the old public safety norm. These issues coincided with an aggressive campaign insisting on consumer and corporate rights to do their own thing. This trumped public safety.
Airy-fairy was the order of the day, even when it came to the atmosphere's essential functions for life on the planet. Governments shied away from anything that smacked of precise targets, plans or bans.
Media response to the ban on dim light bulbs has been positive. However, journalists, along with some green critics, have downplayed its significance. The ban will reduce energy use by about 1 per cent, it's said. No big deal. Don't get your hopes up that this eco changeover is going to be easy, says some Globe pundit.
Pundits can do all sorts of misleading things with statistics by grouping all energy uses together. I can show, for example, that Canadians produce more energy from keeping their home fires burning with wood than is produced by nuclear energy.
But this is just flicking with numbers.
The fact is that about a fifth of global electrical use is for lighting (and this ban trend will be going global in short order), and most electricity gets fired up with the most polluting materials going, a far cry from wood or even gas and oil.
Pundits also forget to calculate what's called the "cascade effect" of lighting change. Because they radiate so much heat, incandescent bulbs deserve to be called heat bulbs rather than light bulbs. Their heat is a major reason why electric air conditioners are on in many offices in winter and have to work full blast in summer.
Although it shouldn't take bright lights to get the logic, it does. I spent too many years trying to convince slapheads at Ontario Hydro that it was cheaper to give away efficient light bulbs than to build new power plants.
They didn't get it, for the obvious reason that engineering staff at Ontario Hydro are there to produce, not conserve, electricity. Likewise, despite huge savings from lighting changes at First Canadian Place, home of the Stock Exchange, stock and bond traders never wrapped their heads around the possibilities of seriously financing energy firms that saved energy.
The reasons for this "market failure" became clear to me when I was belatedly introduced to Clayton Christensen's brilliant business classic The Innovator's Dilemma. There are two kinds of innovations, he says: sustaining and disruptive.
Most recent great inventions - small disc drives, personal computers, portable computers, steel mini-mills, for example - were disruptive. They didn't just change technology; they changed the way companies were organized and money was made.
That's why it took new or separate companies to bring in the changes every time. That's how it is for almost all preventive health and environmental measures, from low-flush toilets to green roofs to decent school meals.
That's why obsolescent technologies have to be banned. The market can't and won't self-correct as fast as voters can. The federal Tories and Ontario Liberals found the tool to do the job, and their Opposition critics should own up to the fact that they never did.