Did you turn off your lights last night? Without much planning or fanfare, we decided to participate in Earth Hour. We started a little early, around 8 pm. We were both tired from working in the yard, and content after a dinner of homemade pizza. I had some good escapist fiction that beckoned. Fortunately, we happen to have two oil lamps. So we took one apiece and settled in for a good read.
I have to say that as happy as I am that we could get around our house and function with non-electrical light, oil lamps aren't things you really want to read by, unless you've got a lot of them. Normally we use these things as supplemental light on the table when we want to have a celebratory meal. I did find that we could get more light by really cranking up the wicks. But that just meant we were consuming both wicks and oil at a faster rate. My eyes did adjust to the dim light, but I still think the eyestrain from reading wouldn't be a great idea over the long run. And I can't imagine my life without a good deal of reading.
Some of the blogs I read that deal with preparing for life after peak oil, or the next great depression, or political collapse strongly suggest turning off the electricity at the junction box for a weekend or a week, just to see how well you can function without it, and to see in what areas you'd like to be better prepared or equipped. I've never done this. But having just turned off the lights for an hour and a half last night, I can see that some sort of light other than oil lamps would sure be nice, if it came to that. Perhaps solar lanterns, or some hand-cranked battery powered lighting. Reading by oil lamps would probably ruin my eyesight sooner rather than later. It took less than an hour with the lights turned off to learn this.
Solar lanterns on the wish list. What did you learn during Earth Hour?