I have already posted about the previous earth hour in the US and how pointless it was. Now in 2008 this inane concept has spread around the world like some sort of IQ destroying virus.
Firstly I must say that I’m convinced the earths climate is changing much more rapidly than our current society can handle. The rate of change is extremely unusual over a very large geological time frame and our current agriculture has evolved in a very unusual period of climactic stability. I also can’t see why pumping a lot of CO2 back into the atmosphere that was sequestered a few hundred millions of years ago is going to be anything but very bad for our society. I’ve read untold numbers of papers, examined the raw data and followed the discussions both for and against man made causes of climate change. My brief summary is that climate change deniers are batshit crazy and suffering from either delusion or back-pocket greed.
However, when I see statements like “Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced” I can a bit annoyed. In fact I get a lot annoyed and would like to smack up the total f%$#ing moron who penned this bullshit. This displays such ignorance about the earths history, even the recent history, that the mere existence of such a concept should nearly be enough to make the entire planet implode. Even though I think rapid climate change is going to screw our civilization over ,I would much rather face that rather than a major impact or super volcano eruption. For a nice summary of bad days see this link.
Back to ‘Earth Hour’ and we see we are being asked to light a candle rather than use electricity. This got me wondering, how much CO2 do burning candles make? They make hardly any light so lets do the comparison. A 60W incandescent light generates about 72 candela (cd) of useful light. A candle, not surprisingly, generates about 1 cd. Instantly we can see one major problem, candles are friggin dim. So dim in fact, that we have programs in the third world to give them more light (most use dangerous kerosene lamps) so they can study and gain an education at night. It’s most likely one of the best things we can do for the third world, give them an education via the wonders of night lighting. However for now we will assume that you wont be doing much with your 1cd of light. To find out what you can do, see this link where someone did some science to find out.
Now candles burn about 6gm of paraffin per hour which gives about 19gm of CO2. (Yes, I’m aware some sites are advocating using beeswax candles or others made from renable resources) For now we’ll ignore the health effects of burning candles or any oil based heating inside, we have the planet to save! If we assume we are replacing the 60W incandescent light (ok, I know most people have swapped over to mini fluoros) then we will save 0.06kW/hr of power.
For gas powered power plants, which the main plant near Adelaide is, the CO2 production is about 360gm of CO2 per kW/hr of power generated. This leads to the generation of 21.6gm of CO2 for one hours worth of light, barely more CO2 than one candle. So basically it’s stupid to turn off even a crappy inefficient bright light and use a candle. In summary:
If you used a CFL the power consumption would be about 15W, generating much less CO2 than a candle burning. Even putting up with the crappy dim lighting it’s still much brighter than a candle.
Of course there is much more to ‘Earth Hour’ than turning off the lights and using a candle. However this little calculation shows the basic premise of the concept has possibly not had a lot of thinking done on it. The real downside with this concept is that it trivializes the issue and loads peoples head with false impressions about what needs to be done. Save the planet? Easy, just turn off the lights for one hour! Can’t be much of a problem if all we need to do is turn off some lights. etc., etc.
It’s not that people will actively think that ‘Earth Hour’ will solve the problem of climate change, it’s that when you load people brains with bad memes it affects how they subconsciously think about things. The common media such as newspapers and TV are simply not supplying good information to explain in detail the total picture. They are treating people like morons, catering for the lowest common denominator, which in our current society is verging on the scientifically illiterate.
The stated aim is to of ‘Earth Hour’ “to deliver a powerful message about the need for action” . Sorry dumbass, we don’t need a powerful message, in just the same way the dot-com’s didn’t need more sizzle to sell the vapourware sausage. What we need is well thought information, presented on real evidence based science. We also need to simply pay the real price for our electricity, gas and power. One that reflects its real cost if were planning on having a sustainable society.
Do we really need to allow badly designed huge houses that require large AC plants for our hot climate? Do we really need advertising billboards and most of the office buildings lit up at night? Do we really need devices with standby mode built in and no way to disable it?Do we really need power stations to have subsidies for using non-renewable fuel and be allowed to dump CO2 into the atmosphere at no cost?
What we need is much better education, not just awareness, and leaders with the guts to make the hard decisions based on the best scientific evidence and damn the ignorant lobby groups and business who don’t want to “negatively impact our bottom line”.