Save the Planet by Outlawing Lampshades
One way and another, the solutions to life’s little problems keep popping into my mind.
For example, I was recently caught speeding (not by very much; my racing car driver days are long past); and rather than have my license soiled, I elected to go to the one-day speeding reeducation course that was offered as an alternative.
The course was run by two ex-policemen, a man and a woman. The course started by a Maoist-type public confession of one’s sins to all the other people in the course who had been similarly caught. The two ex-cops then successfully demonstrated that the human and other damage caused by an accident is lineally related to the speed at which it happens.
It was then that I had a blinding flash of illumination, a real eureka moment. The best, indeed only, way to prevent road traffic accidents is to prohibit people from leaving their houses in the first place! By a process of association of ideas, I remembered the slogan that was used during the war to cut down the demand for public transport: "Is your journey really necessary?"
The answer, of course, is usually a resounding no, especially in these days of the internet. I bet that if you took a spot survey of all the people who are moving about at any given moment, not one in twenty would have a really good reason for doing so. Here, surely, is scope for proper regulation: traffic police who would not only regulate the speed at which you go, but your reasons for going. If you could provide a good reason, a heavy fine would be payable, with imprisonment for subsequent offenses.
This, naturally enough, brings me to the question of global warming. It must be admitted that, for three reasons, things have not been going very well for global warmists of late, at least in Britain. The first reason is that the scientists have been caught doing the scientific equivalent of fiddling the books; the second is that we are enjoying, if that is quite the word, the severest winter in thirty years; and the third is that the economic recession has conclusively demonstrated that people care more about a decline in GDP of five percent than a rise in temperature of two degrees -- if it had taken place, that is.
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.