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Why Can't We Turn Our Lights Off

     On March 31, 2007, people and businesses in Sydney, Australia turned off their lights for one hour. The city streetlights and traffic lights were left on for safety purposes. Can you imagine a city like New York in the dark? Maybe some New Yorkers wouldn't care to go dark since it was not that long ago when they had a blackout. Well, can you imagine your own town in the dark for an hour some night?

This seems like a really good idea. Why not try it here in the United States. Or, why not just periodically turn off millions of lights every night. If you are in any city in the US there are lights everywhere. I can hear people thinking how dangerous it would be to be in the dark in some cities. Still it seems like something could be done to lower our energy consumption and consequently begin to reduce our green house gas emissions.

I have read various things online like, if we turned off all the illuminated exit signs in all the buildings in the US we could shut down a couple of power plants. Or, if we converted all the traffic signals to LED lights we could turn off a couple of power plants. I am not sure how accurate these statements are but there probably is some truth to them. It is time to be looking at how we can cut down our energy consumption. It will be much easier now than later. I think the first thing to look at is where is waste occurring.

On Friday night, students at Penn State volunteer to go around campus and turn off lights in public areas. They estimate they turn off between 1500 and 2500 lights every time. Penn State has a million dollar a month electric bill. It would be interesting to know what impact the action has had on their electric bill.

Everything seems to get boiled down to economics. Is there any other reason to try to save energy? Do we have to put in terms of how much money we save? Isn't just doing it to reduce pollution enough? Or have we just become too lazy to care and use money as an excuse?

To go back to the idea of turning lights off, what comes to mind is say a city turns off a bunch of peripheral lights and some one comes along and has an accident or gets mugged some where where it is dark or darker than usual. The stuff would probably hit the fan and everyone would be in court saying the city was irresponsible in turning off the lights. So is fear going to prevent us from trying something?

I am sure most buildings do not need all the lights on that are left on every night. We certainly do not need decorative lighting, unless, it could be solar powered. What about turning off half the street lights in a city or town? This would not be one side of town lit and one side dark, but, every other light as you go down the street.

Most likely, initiative will be taken on the local level first. There seems to be little National political will in addressing the scourge or consumption that threatens to derail our planet. Years ago Jimmy Carter was ridiculed for saying Americans would need to conserve rather than mindlessly consume. At some point maybe it will be seen as our Patriotic Duty to look at how we can conserve resources and live more simply with less consumption and demand on our environment.

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Michael Dappert is a co-founder of Winco, Inc., a provider of wireless internet access to small communities in West Central Illinois. Everyone is invited to discuss a wide range of issues at

Posted on 2007-04-16, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author,

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