Holiday glow

The other night, as I was gazing out my kitchen window, washing the dishes and keeping an eye on the house across the street where the exotic dancers live, I noticed an unearthly radiance that seemed to be coming from the neighborhood that dead-ends on a nearby cul-de-sac. It’s a nice neighborhood—much nicer than mine—where the neighbors obviously take pride in well-manicured lawns and crafty mailboxes. This is the kind of neighborhood where the residents display the American flag even on non-patriotic holidays and there is a full-size SUV in every driveway, and maybe even a speedboat.

I couldn’t imagine what the shimmering yellowish light was that seemed somehow both near and far away. I must admit I was little uneasy, seeing as how we were in the second day of a national orange terror alert. Orange, as I understand it from closely studying my “Homeland Security Handbook,” means “high-risk” as opposed to yellow’s “pretty-high risk” and blue’s “kind of risky.” Red, the highest alert, stands for “Quick kids, hide under your desks!” Green means “you’re safe to mow your lawn,” and the lowest, purple (“It’s all good”), as I understand it can only be instated once George Bush is out of office. But my curiosity got the better of me, and like a stubborn moth buzzing around the front porch on sticky summer night I headed toward that glow on the horizon, fully disregarding the danger that might be waiting for me there.

As I got closer I began to hear poorly amplified Christmas songs seeping my way through the cold damp air. When I got to the cul-de-sac I was absolutely stunned (not to mention blinded) by what greeted me there. Every house but one (the Communist?) was wrapped with Christmas lights, way more than necessary, and featured Christmas lawn ornaments like reindeer and Santas and elves that danced in the front yards and cavorted on the rooftops. I imagined the houses’ respective electric meters spinning like gyroscopes. The combined candlepower produced by these dozen or so homes could only be measured by somebody who understands how to measure candlepower, but suffice to say I think there was more than enough light here to fully illuminate Houston’s Astrodome. I say the Astrodome, because I got to thinking about an interesting and bold commentary I’d received the day before from Rob Bradley, president of the Institute for Energy Research in Houston, an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute, and author of Climate Alarmism Reconsidered.

In his piece, Bradley praises the consumption of energy around the holidays and says it is good for the earth. “Should good citizens think twice about holiday lighting, given global warming and other suspected climate changes supposedly caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide?” he asks. “Hardly,” he answers. “A moderately warmer, wetter world, whether natural or anthropogenic, such as experienced in the 20th century, is a better world.” Global warming is good, he says. “Carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels ‘greens’ the biosphere through the well-documented carbon fertilization effect. But, most important, the wealth created from affordable, plentiful energy provides the primary means for societies to improve the environment. In the final analysis, wealth produces environmental health, which explains why increasing energy usage and environmental improvement have gone hand in hand in the Western world.”As I reveled in the glow of the tens of thousands of Christmas lights burning before me and the comedic mechanical movements of the white-wired Rudolph and the jolly St. Nick, I had this revelation: So this is why we send American soldiers off to fight and die in the name of oil and the wonderful energy it produces for us here at home. Merry Christmas.