Letter to the editor: Electricity as decoration

To the editor:

Merry Christmas! Let me be the first … well, actually all the twinkling colored lights popping up around town already are the first announcement that Christmas will be here soon. It is estimated that over 150 million light sets (most made in China) are sold in this country each year. Eighty million houses are decorated with lights. Why do we do this? Because everyone does it? Because it makes us happy? Has anyone measured the presumably massive increase in happiness since we began decorating with lights? If we used half as many lights, would we be half as happy? This has become an especially suburban custom where people try to outdo others and themselves in putting up elaborate displays that certainly can be creative and beautiful, but at what cost? The Center for Global Development estimates we use 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity every Christmas season.

I worry about what climate change means for the future of our planet. I worry about the lives my grandchildren and their children will lead. We already have seen big changes, and every indication is that it is going to get a lot worse. Much effort has gone into converting to sustainable energy but not nearly enough to stop the rising temperatures. Will my grandchildren be able to use electricity purely for decoration? They will have to deal with that and many other burdens. Is it fair for us to be doing things now that we know today’s children will not be able to do later?

Joe Douglas,



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