Save the Planet by Outlawing Lampshades

Now it so happens that the other night I went to dinner to a friend who is that most reprehensible character, a skeptic. He says that global warming, if it occurred, would be more likely caused by sunspot activity than by anything we -- mankind -- did. To think otherwise is to be like the madman in Doctor Johnson’s Rasselas who believes that he controls the rising and setting of the sun.

As my friend was uttering these heretical words -- I am sure he would be burned at the stake for them, if it were not for the carbon emissions thereof -- he happened to be screwing one of those new, energy-saving (and now mandatory) light bulbs into a light fixture. These new bulbs always seem to me to cast a kind of yellowing gloom rather than light, the color approximately of the pages of bad-quality paper in old books, reminiscent -- perhaps not coincidentally -- of artificial illumination in the Eastern Europe of the good old days.

Then it came to me -- the solution. The problem with so many light fixtures is the lampshades of one kind or another that surround them. How much of the light emitted do they absorb! If they were prohibited, the necessary wattage to light a room would be much reduced, and the planet would be saved!

Moreover, the prohibition of lampshades would have socially desirable consequences. No one who has traveled to a poor part of any city can have failed to notice that in many rooms lights do not have lampshades. The bare bulb is exposed to the air.

The prohibition of lampshades would therefore have a socially equalizing effect, by definition desirable. I concede, of course, that a government program of distribution of lampshades to the poor would have the same equalizing effect, but without the healing consequences for the planet that the prohibition would have. Such a prohibition would kill two birds with one stone.

Of course, total nocturnal darkness would be best, but let us remain always in the realm of the possible and the realistic. We do not want to be mere dreamers.