Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Earth Friday! (And a Lenten Carbon Fast Challenge)

Earth Day and Good Friday are on the same day this year. This artifact of the calendar may be essentially meaningless, but it can also remind us that both days call us to think things over and make choices about how we shall live our lives.
Genesis 2:15 states that "the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." so it strikes me as pretty important that each follower of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and their offshoots) should take environmentalism to heart. In case we didn't get the message the first time, God in Leviticus reminds us "the land is mine and you are my tenants."
It may be no surprise that numerous Green Christian efforts are therefore springing up like flowers after a good rain. Here's a few:
 This year, I've been trying to follow the Ecumenical Carbon Fast Challenge ( a nice calendar of it is here ) with encouragement by my bloggy friend Small Footprints). While I've not followed it every day, today's challenge seems straightforward and achievable:

"Replace the light bulb you removed on Day 2 of our challenges, but only after considering whether you really need it. If you do, replace it with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), which can save 150 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year. And why not help someone else cut their emissions by giving them a CFL as a gift as well?"
I'm finding that light can be a highly emotional subject. People are used to certain light styles, and resist change, even if a year after the change they discover that they prefer it. In my case, the issue of removing lightbulbs or replacing them with CFLs had to accomodate the emotional needs of my housemates - just doing it without consultation could lead to needless conflict. There's no getting around the fact that CFLs are different from incandescents, but neither accurately reflect the sunlight for which our eyes are well adapated; it's just that we've been raised with the spectrum distortions of incandescedents so we think of them as normal.
There's also an emotional component to the idea of turning off unused lights and other energy users. Even a CFL is wasting energy if it's on when not needed, but for me to go around the house and turn off things that aren't used over the weekend risks interpersonal conflict. It has to be done, but done in a generous and positive spirit, lest if evoke emotions of being controlled or inappropriately dominated.
Eventually I hope to replace all our internal lighting with LEDs, as they are even more efficient and long-lasting than CFLs. I also hope to make better use of external light and internal wall color to reduce our need for enhanced lighting.  Finally, I have hope in use of low-bandwidth radio networks eventually to come down in price sufficiently to enable us to control our house smartly, automatically depowering items according to our usage schedule. In the meantime, I have a small improvement in replacing the bathroom light.
Have a Good Earth Friday!

"Check the tire pressure in your car and fill it to the recommended psi. Low tire pressure means higher fuel consumption. "

This is a very practical challenge, and one that nearly all of us can improve on. I'd be happy to hear of yout techniques for driving smart!

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