An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Why does America keeps its Lights on??

This is a question that almost every immigrant from a power-deficient country asks when he/she reaches US for the first time!! It keeps me baffled everytime I see the office buildings that the lights are always on – and its not as if folks are working in them all night!

Quite simply the generations that lived through the largesse of luck and resources has (will finally at least) robbed the coming generations of Americans off of basic necessities in life.

Rajesh, a TreeHugger reader, asks “why people in the US are not taught to turn off the lights when they leave the room. This is especially evident in all the businesses (offices and stores) across the country that have most of the lights (computers and other electric appliances) turned on, even at night”. Good question. For many of us it’s the ‘cobwebs in the corner’ syndrome. Once ignored, the webs become invisible until a visitor points them out, or, in a lucid moment, they intrude through the web pages we have set our gaze upon. Like perennial Teenagers, we aquired the lights-on habit during a time of dirt cheap electric bills, when climate change shown only on the brows of a few eccentric scientists — and we continue walking away Zombie-like from the consequences.

America’s public spaces and commercial centers are purposely lit all night: rationalized as a weapon in the “war on crime”, but showing, really, a rigid child-like fear of darkness. “For every X number of parking lots, said building shall have Y number of lighting standards…” Office towers with unrented spaces are kept lit through the night as an advertisement of availability.

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