China, in a move that has stirred up a veritable hornets nest of controversy, sent the prices of fluorescent light bulbs through the roof in an attempt to reduce their environmental impact.

Nowadays, energy efficient light bulbs – sometimes called “green” light bulbs – have been integrated into the whole of society in a large way. In order to make these lights one needs what are called “rare earth metals” – metals that are rather sparse and hard to find. China, with its vast landmass, produces an estimated 95% of the entire global supply of these metals. The entire world was shocked recently when, in a move to privatize the production of these metals, China temporarily halted their production. Now these efforts are ostensibly being made to reduce the notoriously high amount of pollution caused by the processes used in the fabrication of these metals, but many experts world-wide have serious reservations about what this could do to the global economy.

The soaring prices of these light bulbs have many a company in a tizzy. General Electric, in a recent study, noted that the rate of price inflation for these products had grown so severe that, if the same rate of inflation were applied to a $2 cup of coffee, that coffee would currently be price at $24.55. Wal-Mart has also expressed its reservations and concern over this new, rather steep hike in the prices of all products that use these metals.

This crisis in the making also comes at a singularly poor time for the US economy. Given the legislature passed some years ago by then-President Bush that will make mandatory the replacement of all incandescent light bulbs with energy conserving ones, the repercussions inherent in China’s move will be long reaching indeed. This development has also stirred up criticism in the Republican Party members, most notably Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. Bachmann, who is one of the major GOP contenders in next years presidential election, has taken a very strong stance against this legislation. She has also repeatedly spearheaded efforts made by the House of Representatives to overturn the relevant legislation, which unfortunately, would just set the environmental clock backwards here in the US.