‘Earth Hour’ Stupidity


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:

We grade the idea of using candles rather than electricity..FAIL

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”.


5 Comments on “‘Earth Hour’ Stupidity”

  1. Jason says:

    Right on!

    I was wondering the exact same thing, did a Google search for “candle co2 compared to lights” and found your post. Thanks for doing the research!

    My guess is that the same person that came up with this has been working on making his “infinite energy machine” aka a generator connected to an AC motor and wondering why the thing won’t work…

  2. mrgnome says:

    You hit the nail on the head there

  3. Jake says:

    So, at the end of calling everyone stupid, you reach the conclusion that the government banning businesses from using electricity as they wish will not have a negative impact on our lives. More than that, “negatively impacting our bottom line” is a negligible effect of government interventionism, compared to what climate change will “undoubtedly do to “screw up our civilization”.

    And finally, the reason why you get to call everyone stupid, lament on how the media is not being smart enough when informing us, and state, without feeling the need to argument this with any actual scientific reasoning, your prediction (a shade different and a bit more vague than the dozens of other, similar predictions other great visionaries keep making) of the future and of what we (as a fucking 6 billion man entity presumably) need to do, is that you read “countless” articles on the issue.
    Go fuck yourself: the climate may be changing, and CO2 levels rising does obviously have some effect on it, but there is no way for you to predict the future of the climate. Not only can you not understand the full complexity of all the variables involved (no one can), but you don’t even understand how the various, and quite diverse, computer models which are designed to simulate that complexity, are built. At best, they offer predictions which have given likelihoods, at worst, they are completely wrong.–either way, you my friend have no idea what they do, so you have no basis to decide whether they’re right or not. Leave scientific journalism to those who are qualified.
    And finally, and maybe even more importantly, you have no concept of what “the bottom line” means to our lives, and you can’t even begin to figure out how to determine whether the benefits of reducing our “carbon footprint” would outweigh the costs. And since you mentioned history, historically any nation which allowed the State to run its economy to an extent that would allow it this much control, ended up watching its children die of malnutrition and cold. All because the “common good” and the big picture, as seen by idiots such as yourself, was more important than individuals and their independent, rational minds.

  4. skepticssa says:

    @Jake
    Firstly you rude little turd, I was calling the idea stupid, not the people. You also misquote me many times and try to set up straw man arguments. You are totally rude and then criticize me for not being able to predict the future climate, something I never claimed to do. You then go into a rant about modeling, something I didn’t even address.

    I find it quite amazing that you would speak like this , you do realise that if you spoke to people face to face like that you’d probably get a fat lip for your effort? You really do come across as some little stuck up fascist.
    I assume you also realise that when you post such rude flames the admin of the blog, i.e. me, actually knows who your are?

  5. BobboMax says:

    You’d probably like my (somewhat difficult to verify) theory that a human using an electric lawnmower (120V in the States) has a lower carbon footprint than someone using a manual mower- humans are a significant source of CO2, after all, and pushing a mower is slow, hard work.


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