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The Paper Lantern

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Note: This blog post is being written on 5/21/2011 about an interesting tech piece seen on film watched at 4am. It is being posted for Friday’s blog.

4thantgrk jap_lamp Throughout most of human history the concept of lighting and lighting solutions has determined the number of hours that mankind has been able to work and his/her ability to create better living conditions and higher living standards. One of the most environmentally friendly sources of lighting (if properly managed) is the concept from Asia known as a paper lantern.

Paper lanterns are used nowadays as novelty items or in special recreations for movies or museum pieces. A few exist that can be bought for home use and for festivities but none are seen as a potential future solution to today’s environmental problems. That is quite sad as the paper lantern and candle are truly a renewable light source for the ages. Think about it: paper can be made cheaply using grasses and weeds (requiring little maintenance of the area), the frame can be made from quick growing bamboo and reused, and the candle from beeswax. How is that for environmentally safe, nontoxic, and encourages people to keep open spaces open and recycle lawn clippings!

flying-paper-lanterns-200X200 Sadly our western way of thinking prevented us from using this for more than an amusement and we were left burning coal, oil, natural gas, and kerosene for our lighting. In Roman times they used small oil lamps with either olive oil or castor oil as fuel. The simple addition of a white paper shade to these would have created a more diffused light for the room and directed the fumes upward and away from its’ users. Granted there was always risk of fire in their use (as with any early lighting method) but with safe placement and proper care a paper lantern could be used for a long time (and then burned in the oven as a fire starter).

It is something to think about for the years to come, when we are huddling in the cold dark nights and the energy shortages begin their cannibalizing of our world and way of like. Certainly a small light isn’t too much to ask for when sitting in the dark and worried about our futures. Certainly light is a symbol of hope and of optimistic enthusiasm. Without it we will die off. Without the little signs of civilization, we will most assuredly revert to barbarism.

The next time you turn on a light, or sit there reading with a buzzing electric light and wonder if there is a better way, a way of using appropriate technology in a peaceful and calming manner without destroying the world around you; remember this way and then look for a means to use it. Simply because we have the ability to use newer and more modern tech doesn’t mean that they are better then what we have. Certainly they produce less light, but they light they produce creates a warming feeling and is localized to your area of work. The next time you turn a light on in your room and realize you just lit up 90% more space then you needed to remember this way. For one day soon, we’ll be needing to create these simply to survive.


Written by Josecito

May 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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