Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Lights and the Environment

In pretty much every town centre up and down the country, you will now find they have put up their Christmas lights, which are lit for several hours every night. They're quite pretty, and generally rather nice (despite it not being December yet).

They are also, fundamentally, a waste of large amounts of energy.

So, here's the thing: if the powers-that-be are really, truly as worried about climate change as they keep telling us, why is this waste of energy acceptable? Sure, it wouldn't be much fun to ban the lights... but it would be rather less fun (I imagine) to find the world becomes uninhabitable.

(I expect the likely response to this is that they'll claim the lights are used in a "carbon neutral" manner - they've offset the cost to the environment by planting some trees, or paying for China to build a cleaner coal power plant, or something equally silly. The problem with this argument is that carbon offsets are a big con, a way for people to salve their guilt without actually having to give anything up. If they're really, truly as worried about climate change as they claim, they should be paying the carbon offsets and not putting up the lights either. In fact, they should then be using the money saved on all that power they're now not wasting to pay for more carbon offsets. A Christmas present for the whole world, if you will.)

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