taking charge

Lights Out is a program planning for one hour of less energy consumption this Spring – March 29, from 8-9pm, they want people all across the country to turn off their non-necessary lights. It seems like such a little request, and yet I wonder if it can be expected to happen voluntarily.

I remember writing about the blackout a few years ago, and the way it felt so calming and communal for the city to be slowed down like that, reduced to candlelight, and so many people on the street (no subways, no tv..) but even though the outcome was positive in a lot of ways it wasn’t something people would have chosen. It wasn’t convenient, and people do go for convenience.

Which reminds me a bit of Super Size Me, the documentary about obesity in america that I just watched for the first time on google video. I enjoyed it, although I do admit that for me it was kinda preaching to the converted… I don’t remember the last time I ate fast food, and it seems fairly obvious to me that what you put in your body has an effect on your health, and that the decreasing health of this country is not randomly congruent with the increased availability of cheap, processed, low quality foodstuff. But the point was, I don’t consider that a personal responsibility issue so much as a social environment issue. We can campaign to affect how people live, but much as we might all like the outcome, it is hard to get everyone to just drop the easy, available habit, and do something which might have better consequences. That’s why I wonder if the “Lights Out” campaign has a chance.

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4 Responses to “taking charge”

  1. Dennis Osborne Says:

    I think we’d have a better chance of persuading people to switch to low-energy bulbs. Using them makes it like turning off your lights twice a week, every week. We should give some sort of incentive to persuade those who are dragging their feet. I would think it cheaper than constructing new power stations. The 60 watt bulbs I use require only 13 watts of energy. 75 Watt bulbs consume something like 18 and 100 watt bulbs only require about 23 watts of energy. Also they’re supposed to last for over 5 years.

    People still buy the old style bulbs because their price is cheaper, initially. But I’ll bet, actually, when you calculate the longer life span of energy saver bulbs and their lower electric cost, you don’t pay much more for them than cheaper ones. Perhaps they even cost less in the long run.

    I don’t understand why there haven’t been any advertisements, at least that I’ve seen, yet, pushing energy saving bulbs.

  2. Dennis Osborne Says:

    It’s funny. I’d always thought of the order, “Super size me,” as applying to the food people were buying. But after seeing Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, I now hear it, rather, as applying to one’s desired body size.

    I saw an article yesterday that the reason it’s thought fast food tends to make people heavier is because the proportion of calories to weight of food items tends to be twice what normal food contains. In other words, if you weigh a fast food hamburger and french fry meal, a spaghetti and salad meal would contain half the calories for the same amount of weight.

  3. Richard Gay Says:

    I think it’s a matter of awareness and social pressure to fit in. Remember the anti-litter campaigns, with the ads and songs? It worked, but these days a new generation which hasn’t gotten the same message is producing more litter. It’s something you have to keep up.

    Of course, if more people were observant Jews, lights out wouldn’t be a problem now, would it?

  4. Dennis Osborne Says:

    I don’t know. I’ve been dating a woman who is Jewish for the past few years and she uses electric candles.

    But I agree there should be a louder voice pushing for power generating sources and conservation techniques that we’ll actually exercise. President Bush claims to favor a transition to hydrogen as a fuel source. Well, if we do that, I would think it’s going to require a great deal of electricity to separate hydrogen atoms from water molecules. If he’s serious, wouldn’t an obvious first step be to focus on where that electricity is going to come from?

    I wonder. When hydrogen is separated, presumably oxygen atoms will be released to bounce around alone in our atmosphere. Will that eventually become a problem? They say hydrogen is a clean burning fuel. But what exactly is emitted? Are hydrogen atoms completely destroyed such that they won’t be able to rejoin the loose oxygen atoms floating around? Oh, and, hydrogen is made from water. But we’re running into water shortages in many areas, too. So will that become a worse problem? Will our water tables drop and will there be less rain available if we start producing hydrogen in large quantities? I don’t know. But these seem questions worth asking.

    And, again, I wonder what’s become of our news media? They just seem to keep asking the same questions over and over of the same people and hearing the same answers, too. But there are so many potential inquiries. They’ve got 24 hours a day on multiple stations. What a waste!

    Perhaps there should be a news channel without any stars. People just walk in off the streets to ask questions. And if there was a big enough audience, I suspect most anyone would be willing to answer. The only regular workers would be those who operate the technical stuff and others who make the contacts. So I could walk in with my questions and they would link me with a physics professor. And, pow! We’d be on the air together, while other amateur street journalists wait their turn.

    I’ve heard hydrogen does not make for a sticky fire, should one ignite from a car crash. I don’t believe it burns as hot, either, as fossil fuel does. Supposedly, no one died from burns on the Hindenberg. The fatalities were from falling or jumping.

    Am I alone in thinking we could create a paradise on earth for future residents if we would only cut back on population? If we offered more incentives not to reproduce, think of all the added space for nature, for example. The traffic could be cut in half or even to a quarter of what it is. And there would be more ocean and mountain homes available per capita. More walking space, too. Just more of everything.

    Also, do we need to be six feet tall? Consider how much smaller our cars and buildings could be if we reduced down to two or three feet.

    I wonder if pure capitalism can allow for the preservation of our earth since consumption rather than preservation is what the system seems dependent on. I mean, can that go on for another billion years? Also, economists often talk as if there is a need for an ever-increasing population. Obviously, that can’t continue forever, either.

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