Sunday, March 30, 2008

Turning Out the Lights, or, What Really Happens When You Close The Refrigerator Door?

We're told that for an hour or so the other night the world was going to turn out the lights to show concern for global warming.

At first I thought there was something wrong with a certain operating system because the Google screen came up black. Then I thought that the half of the world that has electric light had taken leave of their senses because they haven't cared much about the other half as near as I can tell. But nevermind.

I think it is admirable, and if I ever meet anyone who really and truly does not understand that wasting resources contributes to-well, wasting resources, I'll be sure to tell them.

Imagine all the energy we saved in that one out of 8,760 hours that compose an average year-this one's 8,784 because of leap year. That's nearly a tenth of a percent if everything everywhere got turned off, which of course it did not.

I wonder why we need an event to understand it. Mother always said "Turn the lights out when you're not using them", and anyone who's had to pay an electric bill recently also has what Father called a "keen grasp for the obvious".

In a way it is emblematic of the superficiality of our age, that we are more interested in email chain letters of the "Send this on to one hundred people and you'll save the harp seals but if you don't, eternal damnation shall befall you!" type as a substitute for actually thinking things through, figuring out what we can do and putting a plan into action, much less sitting down and sending out a check or showing up at the next city council meeting-heaven forbid!

What it is is a species of ersatz concern that probably yields an evanescent sense of moral superiority to the believer: "You didn't turn out your lights for an hour, you anti global warming schmuck! We, on the other hand, care deeply."

The picture by Reuters is of the Detroit skyline. I suspect it is as dark as it is because there was nobody there to pay the bills and the thieves had already made off with the copper wire and light bulbs.

But who am I to judge my fellow morons?


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