Turn down the lights

Nobody likes a Scrooge at Christmas time, so it’s with some hesitation that we call attention to a popular seasonal phenomenon that is extravagant in its use of energy: outdoor displays.

Every year, it seems, the displays get bigger and more elaborate and use ever-increasing numbers of lights. Local newspapers and television stations join the effort, publicizing the biggest displays and even providing maps so people can drive around and view them.

We haven’t researched it, but anecdotally we know that, for many of the participating families, monthly power bills go up by $200 or more. It’s generous of people to spend the money to create dazzling Christmas tableaux for the enjoyment of others. But we can’t help wondering whether it isn’t all getting to be, well, a bit much, what with global warming and all.

After all, a significant percentage of the electricity we use in California comes from coal-fired power plants, a major source of carbon dioxide. And the best way we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere is by changing the way we live. Next year, let’s give Mom—Mother Earth—a Christmas present by toning down the displays.

Merry Christmas from the CN&R staff.