Climate change and the coal strike of 1977-78: Turn down the lights

A finger pressing a switch
When you read the history of the 1977-1978 Coal Strike, the reports talk about the negotiations, the rejected agreement and who the losers were in the final contract.

However, the effect of the strike on energy consumption is glossed over.

That year, I was a student at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Indiana. The school took steps to reduce energy usage. I remember that we reduced lighting in the classrooms and hallways. We changed policies in the cafeteria and took other steps to cut back energy usage.

None of the changes that the school took required waiting for greater availability of renewable energy sources or capital outlays by industry.

Reducing the use of lighting in public spaces will not eliminate the imperative to reduce CO2 emissions. However, it will be a step in the right direction. It can be done overnight and does not need the cooperation of any elected officials.

Turn down the lights. It’s a very visible signal that CO2 emissions need to be lowered. It can be a start and it’s available everywhere.

Lock the switch

I was at a doctor’s office today and found this on the wall as I was leaving:

A light switch lock mounted on a toggle switch

This toggle switch lock is useful for many situations


It’s a lock to hold a light switch on (or off).

The locks are not easy to find at a good price. I found some on ebay and Amazon, but not in local hardware stores. For a small piece of plastic, they are expensive, but they are probably a low-volume item and don’t benefit from an economy of scale.

There’s a second style that has a hole for the toggle. This alternate style has the advantage that it can’t be knocked out of place. From the photographs, it appears that installations benefit from a longer-than-normal screw to hold it securely.

A church I visit has a switch they want to keep on. Right now it is just held in place with packing tape. I’ll have to see if they’d like me to donate one of these. They look much more professional and don’t need an obligatory “please leave this switch on” message taped to the wall.

The reviews report another use for them: to protect switches that are part of a smart home system such as SmartThings, Wink, Google Home or Echo and Alexa. Reviewers also suggest using them with the switches for garage lights, outdoor lights and sump pump systems.