Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My Battle With the Light Bulb

My post today is about something I struggle with.  Not being a snob on the topic of struggles, I take this as an indication that other people probably struggle with this, too.
My struggle?  Maybe you guessed it?  I often fail to turn off the light bulb.
At night, especially when it's dark, I like having light!  Yet, we also know that light bulbs use electricity.  Electricity use affects us at the pocketbook, so we can conserve money by using less of it. 
But money in my or your pocket is really just a side effect.  The truth is that the electric rate could be set at whatever the regulating utility (or the market) wants.  Utility rates, and gasoline tax, are largely determined by demand.  What we each really need to do is to reduce demand, by using less.

When enough of us act in small ways, we link into big picture items, like mountaintop removal mining or tar sands mining.  Just a few days ago, I blogged on justice issues arising from these types of mining activities, which are directly linked to our consumption of energy.

  • Let's put our electric usage into perspective:   Listening to a talk radio show last year, I learned that electricity for just one item in the USA -- air conditioning -- uses more electricity than all the power usage on the continent of Africa combined.   Think about that, Americans!  
  • If you are in North America and click the link HERE and input your zip code, you will probably be able to see that your own electricity use contributes directly to mountaintop removal mining.  The burning of coal also contributes to acid rain and particulate air pollution. 
Each of our actions do, directly, affect these big picture items.  Each of us, no matter how small, can do our small part. 
One of the pastors at my church, on the issue of being more "green," suggests a goal of having one light bulb on in the house per person.  This seems adequate.  If we use moderation, each of us can still have "enough" and not be left in the dark.

Using less.  It's the first among the three item mantra:  "reduce, reuse, and recycle."
The reason "reduce" is first is because it's the most important of the three.  If we don't "use" in the first place, we don't even need to get to the second two.   
And yet, even knowing this, as I look around my house this moment there are five light bulbs on!
Light bulbs are my personal struggle.  If I were to call a spade a spade, I would call it gluttony.   And though I know better, yet I continue to do it anyway.   Overusing, using more than my share. 
So, my Lenten exercise for today is to confess this challenge, bring it to the open and share it, and resolve to do better. 
Will you join me?  Can we mutually resolve to go turn off a few excess lights, literally? 
While we're turning off lights,  can we also renew our commitments to reduce waste, generally?  I think the earth, and future generations, would thank us. 

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