Each of these choices entails energy consumption not just on my part, but on the part of people I don’t even know. It takes energy to ferry to and from work the people who maintain the electricity grid, who pave and police the roads, sell and service the plumbing and heating equipment. It takes energy for the TSA to inspect me and my baggage every time I board a flight. It takes energy to manufacture, transport and offer for sale the coat that I buy, but don’t bother to wear when I am inside heated buildings.
That is just the smallest sample of the choices I make that involve energy consumption. And I am just one of more than 300 million Americans. It is endless. Almost every minute of the day, we are making choices. Light bulbs are the least of it.
So, if our leaders in Washington are serious about saving us all from our self-imposed energy inefficiencies, then as a longtime 100-watt incandescent addict who has seen the light, I must speak up. Our politicians are shirking their duties if they limit themselves to banning the light bulbs that most Americans prefer. They should be banning morning coffee and toast. Water and bread would be more energy efficient. There should be soup police — no, make that kitchen police — to ensure that no one spends too much energy heating up food that’s already been cooked. There should be federal laws to minimize energy-guzzling travel for such frivolous individual purposes as seeing friends, or visiting family; quite likely we would need a new regulatory agency to enforce this at the grass roots level, and vet requests for special exemptions. As for heat and hot water, the energy waste could be cut dramatically by the simple expedient of issuing draconian quotas, taking into account that the need for heating can be greatly reduced by wearing parkas, hats and gloves indoors at all times; and Americans will hardly need to bathe all that often in any event, if they are forced to do most of their socializing by teleconference.
Of course, it would all make for a relatively spare existence. With the possible exception of Washington politicians and bureaucrats who would have to be exempted from this plan in order to more efficiently perform their duties, hundreds of millions of Americans would be facing a winter of near isolation sitting around unbathed in dim, frosty homes, swaddled around the clock in outdoor clothes, living on bread, water and cold soup. But think of the energy efficiencies! So bring it on. There are much bigger things at stake here than Thomas Edison’s little old light bulbs.