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Saving energy, and not wasting it because you can afford to, is the morally right thing to do in this crisis

Sam McBride


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Diners at Brasserie Surrealiste, Brussels, eat meals produced without gas or electricity as part of an experiment last Wednesday. Picture by Olivier Matthys/AP

Diners at Brasserie Surrealiste, Brussels, eat meals produced without gas or electricity as part of an experiment last Wednesday. Picture by Olivier Matthys/AP

Diners at Brasserie Surrealiste, Brussels, eat meals produced without gas or electricity as part of an experiment last Wednesday. Picture by Olivier Matthys/AP

If desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius, as Benjamin Disraeli once wrote, then the winter ahead will be marked as a time of intense inventiveness. Even in the absence of the apparent global recession into which we are hurtling, the astronomical increases in the cost of energy will devastate lives. In more ways than one, we’re going back to a past many of us have never experienced.

A pub in Cornwall, south-west England, now turns out its lights on Mondays, with pints served by candlelight to avoid laying off staff. In Brussels, some restaurants last week went further — not just using candlelight, but drawing attention to their plight by turning off their ovens for several days and serving diners only drinks and food that didn’t require electrical appliances.


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