Paris is known as the City Of Light principally because of the gas lights of the 1800’s, but it may be time to turn the lights off, at least late at night.
Andrew Price, Will The City Of Light Go Dark To Save Energy?
A proposal from Delphine Batho, head of the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, and Energy, would require stores, offices, and public buildings across the country to turn off the lights between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. The point of the policy, according to Batho, is not only to save energy and money but also “to change the culture” in a time of economic crisis, making people aware of the importance of using energy resources efficiently.
If the new policy is approved by Parliament, it will take effect in June, with certain exceptions for hospitals, police stations, and other critical operations. Indeed, the target of the policy seems to be shops that keep their lights on all night long. Or at least that’s what some proprietors seem to think. France’s Commerce Council has made statements opposing the idea, claiming that it will turn off tourists and hurt business. Predictably, the light bulb and lighting systems industries have also objected.
The savings could be considerable — $261 million per year — but the biggest impact could be the cascade out to other cities and towns that might follow Paris’ lead.
- Kenneth Boulding, The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth, 1966
Boulding teaches us that referring to posterity instead of the future leads to a dramatic change in perspective. ‘Posterity’ implies continuity of society and the obligations of those living now to future inheritors, a living commitment, while ‘the future’ is a distant land peopled by strangers to whom we have no ties.
Boulding is very much a modern man, a product of the first half of the 20th century, when concern for posterity was a duty of the elite. In the postmodern, posterity was mined, exploited for all it held, and all that was left was ‘the future’. And now, at the outset of the post-normal, ‘the future’ is just a pile of slag left behind by people we don’t remember, just a pile of sci fi stills and economist’s powerpoints with the lines all trending in the wrong direction.
We have reached the point that Boulding wrote about: our leaders — our culture — provide us no images of the future other than dystopia and decline. We need to colonize the future ourselves, we must make our own maps of that territory, maps that show us as inhabitants and inheritors, making new economics, breaking with the deals and disasters of the past, and committing again to each other: to be a community and not consumers, to be partners and not competitors, to be from the future and beyond the past.