Thursday, June 10, 2010

When you smell the gas burning, you make more modest energy choices.

At least, I do. And how quickly it fades as I stay here, on-the-grid, at my parents.

Of course I know that when I turn on my computer or blender or whatever in a utility paying home, either coal has been mined and burned or nuclear waste has been produced to power that modern convenience. And I know that there are appalling costs associated with both means of producing electricity. For instance, fishing permits in Maine come with warnings because the fish are so contaminated. Coal is burned, the smokes goes up and rains down far, far away. These aren't even coal plants located in Maine. As a result of all this, I try to limit my energy use, but only up to a point, a point that is pretty convenient for me.

Turns out, it feels like a brand new equation when I have to flip the switch myself, hear the generator growling, smell the gasoline burning, and decide just how charged up I want those batteries, anyway. My choices changed immediately. I wouldn't even open the fridge without thinking first to avoid letting the cold out more frequently than necessary, and I swept rather than vacuumed. The flip side is that when the sun shines I could be profligate with my energy use completely guilt-free.

But even with the cost of energy use concretized so recently, now that I don't have to flip the switch myself and I don't even know where the coal and/or nuclear power plants are that power this home, I've slipped back into opening the fridge door without so much as a first thought.

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