Unplug Your Halogen Lamps!
I recently viewed Al Gore’s admirable and persuasive documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, and I’ve started worrying about global warning—occurring in my cramped flat in Hong Kong.
Like most citizens of this city, my wife and I lead anything but carbon-neutral lives. On the virtuous side, we don’t own a gas-guzzling SUV, or any vehicle whatsoever: we use public transportation. When we travel abroad, we sit in the economy section of commercial airlines. No privacy, or leg-room, or shrimp cocktail and fresh garlic bread, or the enjoyment of a car radio for us! But none of this comes from environmental consciousness. It’s all dictated by the household budget,Office 2011 for MAC Clé the wonderful convenience of living in Hong Kong, and a distaste for parking problems. Oh: we have some house plants too.
Let’s confess our sins. First of all, I like air conditioning. I really like air conditioning: Hong Kong’s thermostatic profligacy suits me. I enjoy going to a restaurant or movie and seeing women wrapped up in what seems like sleeping bags. At home, I open all the living room windows (for ventilation) and crank up the a/c. My leased, two-bedroom, 1,500 sq. ft apartment has two split air Office 2013 Clé conditioners and no less than four window units: I’ve never had them all going at once, although that would be, well, cool. In the summer, I leave the a/c on when I leave the flat (for dinner, say) so it will be cool when I return. I’m sure the window units drip onto pedestrians on the pavement below; as a result, I never get upset about being dripped on myself.
When I flick the living room light switch, it activates nine halogen bulbs recessed in the ceiling. They illuminate half of the room. The rest is lit by more lamps: three incandescent, three halogen. The narrow kitchen has three halogen lamps and eight incandescent bulbs beneath the cupboards. When I cook, twelve light bulbs are burning in the kitchen, including the one on the stove-hood.
I often leave my computer on all night, and I’ve never turned off the stereo speakers connected to it. In my little TV room, there’s a multitude of equipment including the airport, modem, TV decoder and computer printer. I never turn any of them off: I’m not sure how to do it, or whether it’s correct or not. At night, you can get around the flat without any lights at all, thanks to the blinking of all that equipment. It’s never dark in my apartment.
We are guilty of other environmental sins, of course. Smoking, but I don’t think that effects the world at large, since it never seems to leave the flat, no matter how hard we try. Methane production, which husbands find healthy and wives bitch about. A preference for long-cooked meals on the stove or in the oven, although our invaluable Hawkins pressure cooker from India must earn some carbon points. I use a microwave oven: does that hurt the environment? It makes a kind of groaning sound that suggests so, even when reheating coffee.
Now here’s the payback: I think the flat has had enough. There’s a persistent leak from the tiles above the master bathroom window, which makes the Kleenex box next to the toilet a sodden mess. As far as I can tell, the tiles seem to be splitting, like a reef in Antarctica or Greenland. The living room windows have also started leaking when it rains, and we have towels permanently positioned at the weak spots—a futile effort, for sure. Something’s going to give. Recently, water started surfacing around the stovetop in the kitchen. It took us days to figure it out. A pinhole in the faucet was sending an invisible spray whenever we turned on the water. Now the faucet is wrapped in a towel. Another band-aid.
If you trust Al Gore’s message on global warming, you’ve got to get down at the microcosmic level: your small flat.