Thursday, October 02, 2008

Angry Sky

Doesn’t this look like an October sky? At least this is what I think of when I think of October skies. I think of big, dark clouds interspersed with blue sky and cumulous clouds, racing to reach the far horizon. I think of weather that changes from moment to moment, temperatures that feel roasting in the sunshine and frigid in the shade.

So in accordance with this new month we’re in, I’m posting a month-appropriate photo. Gone are the flowers and blooms. Now comes the changeable sky of October.

This morning’s Harrisburg Patriot News has a front page article, "A frightening forecast for Pennsylvania’s climate." The article says a new report from the Union for Concerned Scientists indicates snow cover in Pennsylvania will become a thing of the past and that skiing and snowmobiling "could become nearly impossible" in the next few decades unless we vastly reduce the heat-trapping gases that cause the change. For me, this is hardly new news, but this does mark the first time I’ve seen the local paper explain the problem in such stark terms. I hope the message doesn’t get lost in the swirl of our economic mess and the Presidential campaign.

And the message still needs to get through to the average person. Last night I was returning to the cabin after an evening meeting. For the first time since May, it is dark when I drive back to the mountain. And what do I see? In a large field that is now the site of several large homes (they’re not quite large enough to be McMansions but almost) all built within the last 2-3 years, the homes are completely lit up. Each of the many windows has an electric candle. There are lights at the front door, lights over the 3-car garage, lights at the entrance to the driveway, lights on a single pathetic tree in the front yard. It’s so bright I could read by the light of those lights. Now here’s the odd part. Just a quarter of a mile up the same road, I pass an area of older homes, most smaller, some quite a bit smaller, and what do I see? Hardly a light anywhere. If the people are home, I see interior lights. In about half the cases, there’s a single porch light or a front door light. And that’s it.

The homeowners of the smaller homes are quite content to use electricity only where they need it. Those homes are even closer to the mountain and have forest or mature trees behind them that closes in on the properties, yet they don’t feel the same need that the people in the large homes in the middle of an open field have to surround their living space with brightness. What’s that about? Is it simply a case of "look at me! Look at my big house"? Are they afraid (something) will get them if they turn off their lights? One light on a house compared with 30 blazing lights on a house? Is it any wonder we’re in so much trouble?


Anonymous said...

And I bet that only one or two people live in the huge, energy sucking houses.


kat said...

I find it interesting that most of those who own large homes haven't a clue or don't care about energy saving. Perhaps they are in a different tax bracket and are not motivated by monthly electric and energy bills. They could still have their lights and use them too if they switches to motion detecting sensors and solar lighting. When I was a kid my parents used to charge whomever left the lights on a quarter for the carelessness. After loosing allowance money a couple times, it sunk in. Too bad towns don't over charge a surplus beyond reasonable usage. But I won't digress.

Carolyn H said...

Gina: it wouldn't surprise me either if that was the case.

Kat: I use solar lights in a couple of places along my long driveway to the cabin. They work well in winter when I don't have leaf cover. They don't work as well now when I still have leaves, but I don't often come back to the cabin after dark.

I've never understood why more people don't use them. They're cheaper than electric driveway lights, easier to install and don't cost anything after they're in.

Carolyn H.