Written October 6, 2023, At Kansas City, Missouri.
Most of us are creatures of habit. We like routine and when our routines are disrupted, we are often annoyed.
Example: An employee parking lot without assigned spaces, yet repeated use of a particular spot brings with it a sense of ownership. (annoyed and spoken under one’s breath) “Who the f*** parked in my spot today!”
Another example: Earlier this week I was invited to sit in on a community college history class. It was an excellent experience, but a bit sobering. I was significantly older than the professor, and shocked to see how young college students had become in the last 50 years! Prior to class I had been cautioned to sit in a particular seat so as not to “take a student’s seat”. This is despite the class having open seating.
Those are relatively benign examples yet when change is imposed by another person or agency and we feel powerless in its face, that person/organization may become the target of more extreme anger, vilification, and even conspiracy theories.
I recall when national legislation mandated the demise of most incandescent light bulbs, instead requiring the use of the more efficient compact fluorescent and led lights. Incandescent lights typically last 1,500 hours and convert only 10% of electricity into light, the other 90% is converted to heat. Who remembers the Hasbro “Easy-Bake Oven” which used a lightbulb as the heat source with which children could bake small cakes, “just like mom”.
Conversely, compact fluorescent and led lights last upward to 25,000 hours and use 75% less energy to create the same amount of light. A 60-watt equivalent led light uses only 7 watts of energy, about the same as an old incandescent “night-light”.
It seemed a no-brainer; less electricity used in a longer life bulb meant significant money saved and it was good for the environment… Yet certain (dare I say conservative?) elements of society saw this as a grand conspiracy. They decried this as an attack on our personal freedoms, much as they did with the introduction of and later mandated use of seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, smoke-free flights, childhood vaccinations, etc. (COVID masks anyone?)
My dear mother (may she rest in peace) railed against the Obama Administration, blaming the President for taking her lightbulbs from her. Educated with a master’s degree, logic could not eclipse her anger. I learned the hard way to avoid this and many other topics during our frequent telephone chats, “Peter Michael, I don’t know why YOU think the way you do. NO ONE ELSE IN THIS FAMILY DOES!”, and with that there would be a loud “click” the line going dead.
Our electric utility in this part of Missouri, Evergy, recently implemented a timed rate structure. During the weekday peak use hours of 4 pm to 8 pm rates become significantly higher and from midnight to 6 am they are significantly lower. This provides a financial incentive to moderate use during the periods of high demand, thus reducing the need to construct greater generation capacity… good for the company, good for the environment, and good for the customer, win, win, win, right? Not with everyone.
Social media has been lit up with some folks calling it communism, the heavy hand of government, corporate greed, etc. My efforts to explain the system and the rationale behind it have merely made me a target of vilification and conspiracy, “I bet you work for Evergy!”. Even producing the proof that my electric bill has been reduced 30% by timing the use of appliances and changing the thermostat during peak hours has fallen in those circles upon deaf ears.
Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Sometimes we act contrary to our own best interests… just to make the point that we can. And sometimes those who reach out to lend a hand find that the hand gets bitten. It is a wonder that our species has flourished. Give us more time and Nature will eventually have the last word.
Peace Everyone. Pete