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(Slate)   Turning your lights off for "Earth Hour" will actually do more to harm the environment than help it   (slate.com ) divider line
    More: Ironic, earth hour, Project Syndicate, indoor air pollution, National Grid, electricity, incandescent light bulb  
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14498 clicks; posted to Main » on 18 Mar 2013 at 2:45 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-03-18 04:40:13 AM  

ciberido: Msol: Now that I think about it... the last Earth Hour I went to did have a whole bunch of candles burning...

[afrikent.files.wordpress.com image 850x637]
North Korea is very environmentally-conscious.


Yes. Best Korea has madatory Earth Hours every week, and look how it has turned them into a happy, well-adjusted country.
 
2013-03-18 04:43:24 AM  

J. Frank Parnell: powerplantgirl: I was also just trying to say it really doesn't matter about one hour of "lost profits", we're making MORE emissions to cover this one hour of an "earthly gesture"

Yeah, i got all that. But i still think the brief drop in paying customers, maybe combined with any costs of cycling things down and up, is what motivates power companies to try and deter people from doing it, rather than a concern for the environment.


The hour that people are turning off their lights isn't even during peak usage hours. It's more of a nuisance than money thing (from my perspective) because plants like to be ran at one load, for the most part, and any cycling of the units is harder on them. So yes you run the risk of breaking more things by cycling the units, but those broken parts will just be passed along in your rates.
If you really wanted to argue about the power companies losing money for this one hour, I'd maybe see your point of it was during the day at peak usage, but as I read it it's at night, which means they're losing an hour of residential sales (not business sales) which are significantly lower.

More of a pain in the ass than financially motivated really.
 
2013-03-18 05:17:53 AM  

powerplantgirl: J. Frank Parnell: powerplantgirl: try doing more throughout the entire year, that's how these things can make a difference.

I think that's what it's supposed to be inspiring people to do. And i do, myself. I don't even take part in 'Earth Hour' because i see it as an empty gesture. Like so many things these days. Most people just do something on that day and it makes them feel like they did their part, then go back to the routine. I'd agree that is pointless.

I totally agree with this, do it all year long and not just for one hour. I was also just trying to say it really doesn't matter about one hour of "lost profits", we're making MORE emissions to cover this one hour of an "earthly gesture"


Statistics for Earth Hour 2010, provided by Energy Australia, showed that the Sydney CBD area electricity demand decreased by 6.3%. If carried out sufficiently, that would sting profits at some point. In my place of scatter, it's the refrigerator that uses watts. May I suggest planning ahead, using up most of the stuff inside and then unplug the refrigerator during Earth Hour and turn it back on when you need it again.
 
2013-03-18 05:18:43 AM  
I'll turn on everything around here to offset the possible deleterious effects of other people turning off!


/You're Welcome
 
2013-03-18 05:26:02 AM  
The smug sense of superiority is worth the increased CO2.
 
2013-03-18 05:27:35 AM  
That a professor is under the impression Earth Hour is intended to actually lower CO2 emissions is a bit of a worry. While I agree that to some more pragmatic souls, it may seem a bit contradictory that we don't switch off our appliances, many of which are on standby all day while we are at work, I struggle with the idea that he states (and possibly believes) that the power stations will surge on firing up after Earth Hour. He can't seriously believe that is the case?

As cynical as I am about Earth Hour, I do understand that it is to raise awareness - not to actually lower emissions
 
2013-03-18 05:29:40 AM  

Delay: that would sting profits at some point.


You appear to be suggesting that the folks at fault here are the producers?

I'm concerned that the "awareness" being raised is missing the mark somewhat...
 
2013-03-18 05:34:35 AM  
The real benefit of Earth Hour is being able to see the stars.
 
2013-03-18 05:35:46 AM  

ThreeFootSmurf: Biofuels? Lots of options there; cellulose to some type of alcohol, oil from algae, landfill and farm-waste methane, etc.

and none of that will reduce CO2 emissions cause you need to BURN the fuels to extract the energy potential from them.


Do you want to know how I know you don't understand the carbon cycle?
 
2013-03-18 05:37:44 AM  

nulluspixiusdemonica: Delay: that would sting profits at some point.

You appear to be suggesting that the folks at fault here are the producers?

I'm concerned that the "awareness" being raised is missing the mark somewhat...


Right, are you guys trying to hurt profits or lower emissions?

And 6.3 percent of residential is significantly lower than 6.3 percent of daytime business usage. If you want to "lower emissions" and "hurt profits" do it during peak usage times.
 
2013-03-18 05:43:35 AM  

nulluspixiusdemonica: ultraholland: Deep-sea life at thermal vents disagrees.

So.. these thermal vents... magic? 

Fissionable material produced by... humping rabbits?

everything is solar powered... not necessarily by the same solar source, sure, but it all starts with the star...


Small but dense blooms of life exist at black smokers completely independent of solar energy. Fissionable material is completely unrelated to solar energy.

To be incredibly precise, fissionable material was produced with solar power, just not from the sun we currently use. Part of the energy that powers the deep sea vent colonies also indirectly comes from the heat of radioactive materials in the core.
 
2013-03-18 05:51:10 AM  
nulluspixiusdemonica: ultraholland: Deep-sea life at thermal vents disagrees.

everything is solar powered... not necessarily by the same solar source, sure, but it all starts with the star...


In the sense that all of the elements down there were created in the hearts of stars, you are correct.
 
2013-03-18 06:02:56 AM  
Tesla is not amused.
http://showdownatunobtainium.com/teslaedison/wp-content/uploads/2012/ 0 7/nikola-tesla-and-his-wardenclyffe-tower-and-laboratory41.jpeg">http ://showdownatunobtainium.com/teslaedison/wp-content/uploads/2012/0 7/nikola-tesla-and-his-wardenclyffe-tower-and-laboratory41.jpeg showdownatunobtainium.com
 
2013-03-18 06:06:04 AM  

ultraholland: In the sense that all of the elements down there were created in the hearts of stars, you are correct.


I disagree, and here is why. Osmosis. It creates flow within liquids of different densities.  This "energy" is not dependent on matter, it merely takes place using said matter.
 
2013-03-18 06:10:34 AM  
Turning off your lights saves zero energy if you are heating your house anyway, assuming you bother to close your blinds and all that, because all of the light gets turned to heat. It'd be a lot better to do this in the summer. Makes CFLs in cold climates pretty pointless, too.
 
2013-03-18 06:16:51 AM  
All that earth hour will do is encourage people to fark with all these romantic candles around and then we will have more little humans running around putting a drain on the planets resources.
 
2013-03-18 06:19:35 AM  

DreamWalker: All that earth hour will do is encourage people to fark with all these romantic candles around and then we will have more little humans running around putting a drain on the planets resources.


The planet's resources will never drain unless we start lobbing them out of orbit.
 
2013-03-18 06:25:07 AM  

nmrsnr: How disingenuous is it to treat what is clearly a publicity stunt as if the purpose of it was to actually cut CO2 emissions in-and-of itself? Also, he ends with saying we shouldn't put more money into wind and solar energies, but should instead fund research into green energy sources that can compete with fossil fuels. What the hell technologies does he think those are without wind and solar? The only ones I can think of are fission (which, after Fukushima, is not going to happen), fusion (which has been 25 years away for 60 years), and tidal (which only works if you have waters with tides). Solar is, ultimately, the most abundant power source we have, so it's all going to boil down to that eventually, might as well get the infrastructure in place now. I greatly dislike people who think that because something isn't solving the problem right now in its entirety it's clearly not worth doing and should be abandoned. Turning off you lights symbolically for an hour to show public support and demand for a more environmentally conscious world won't fix pollution? Terrible waste of time. Solar energy hasn't given us emission free jetpacks? Not worth it. The author just seemed like he wanted to be a greener-than-thou prick.

/rant off


There's also geothermal. The earth's pretty warm no matter whether you are, if you dig deep enough. Of course, most places aren't geologically active enough to make it feasible. Though, I have heard of the same sort of thing on a small scale used to heat/cool homes/buildings even stable regions. Not sure how effective it was.

So yeah, wind and solar is pretty much it. Unless he thinks we can come up with new unexpected sources of green energy (which is certainly possible).
 
2013-03-18 06:30:17 AM  

Yogimus: DreamWalker: All that earth hour will do is encourage people to fark with all these romantic candles around and then we will have more little humans running around putting a drain on the planets resources.

The planet's resources will never drain unless we start lobbing them out of orbit.


They can: they can be consumed and transmuted into different chemicals which don't have the necessary properties to be used in the way you need.

Possibilities exist to re-create those resources but it, of course, requires an even greater investment of energy than you got out of it in the first place. The corollary is solar, since the sun puts out enormous gobs of energy everywhere every second and even the whole of the earth captures only a tiny fraction. But you're still limited by the resources consumed in creating the technology to capture that energy (and there is always loss, to unreclaimable decay or malfunction).
 
2013-03-18 06:32:20 AM  
Wow.  Someone is angry about environmentalism.
 
2013-03-18 06:35:16 AM  

Niveras: Yogimus: DreamWalker: All that earth hour will do is encourage people to fark with all these romantic candles around and then we will have more little humans running around putting a drain on the planets resources.

The planet's resources will never drain unless we start lobbing them out of orbit.

They can: they can be consumed and transmuted into different chemicals which don't have the necessary properties to be used in the way you need.

Possibilities exist to re-create those resources but it, of course, requires an even greater investment of energy than you got out of it in the first place. The corollary is solar, since the sun puts out enormous gobs of energy everywhere every second and even the whole of the earth captures only a tiny fraction. But you're still limited by the resources consumed in creating the technology to capture that energy (and there is always loss, to unreclaimable decay or malfunction).


I agree, but if time = energy, then the resources will return over the ages.  I know, we're agreeing here but being picky over the technicalities. :)
 
2013-03-18 06:55:28 AM  

nulluspixiusdemonica: J. Frank Parnell: maybe combined with any costs of cycling things down and up, is what motivates power companies to try and deter people from doing it
The tail does not wag the dog. Consumption is not driven by the producer.


Says the guy who never has been through rolling blackouts or brownouts.  Energy is not a normal commodity
 
2013-03-18 07:01:34 AM  
and turn off my bitcoin mining rigs for 1 hour
NEVER!
 
2013-03-18 07:08:41 AM  

gulogulo: Says the guy who never has been through rolling blackouts or brownouts.  Energy is not a normal commodity


Ermm... you may want to reconsider this tack....

Secondly, producers not meeting demand==evil producers are responsible for power consumption? What is this?

Want to do something concrete about reducing your power consumption footprint? Use lower wattage bulbs, put the geyser on a timer, insulate your home and *stop breeding like rabid stoats*...

All of which takes effort and introduces a small level of discomfort.... Far simpler to buy into the communal delusion of efficacy that is represented by "awareness" campaigns like EH...
 
2013-03-18 07:47:40 AM  
To green the world's energy, we should abandon the old-fashioned policy of subsidizing unreliable solar and wind-a policy that has failed for 20 years, and that will fail for the next 22. Instead, we should focus on inventing new, more efficient green technologies to outcompete fossil fuels.

Translation: only invest in technologies that involve fossil fuels.  I was paid to right this article by an oil company.
 
2013-03-18 07:52:24 AM  

manimal2878: I was paid to right this article by an oil company.

 
2013-03-18 08:06:24 AM  
It's a cult, just like any other cult.
 
2013-03-18 08:07:15 AM  

swahnhennessy: The real benefit of Earth Hour is being able to see the stars.


images.wikia.com
 
2013-03-18 08:13:59 AM  

J. Frank Parnell: powerplantgirl: I was also just trying to say it really doesn't matter about one hour of "lost profits", we're making MORE emissions to cover this one hour of an "earthly gesture"

Yeah, i got all that. But i still think the brief drop in paying customers, maybe combined with any costs of cycling things down and up, is what motivates power companies to try and deter people from doing it, rather than a concern for the environment.


Gut feelings beat facts every day of the week. You're pathetic.
 
2013-03-18 08:17:00 AM  

powerplantgirl: J. Frank Parnell: powerplantgirl: I was also just trying to say it really doesn't matter about one hour of "lost profits", we're making MORE emissions to cover this one hour of an "earthly gesture"

Yeah, i got all that. But i still think the brief drop in paying customers, maybe combined with any costs of cycling things down and up, is what motivates power companies to try and deter people from doing it, rather than a concern for the environment.

The hour that people are turning off their lights isn't even during peak usage hours. It's more of a nuisance than money thing (from my perspective) because plants like to be ran at one load, for the most part, and any cycling of the units is harder on them. So yes you run the risk of breaking more things by cycling the units, but those broken parts will just be passed along in your rates.
If you really wanted to argue about the power companies losing money for this one hour, I'd maybe see your point of it was during the day at peak usage, but as I read it it's at night, which means they're losing an hour of residential sales (not business sales) which are significantly lower.

More of a pain in the ass than financially motivated really.


He'd rather go with his gut than listen to someone in the industry explain it to them with facts and logic. You can't fix that. I have 'em farkied as someone thinking that humans aren't physically meant to eat meat. I'm pretty sure you can't "win" this no matter how right you are.
 
2013-03-18 08:20:50 AM  

ultraholland: In the sense that all of the elements down there were created in the hearts of stars, you are correct.


And that the heat and tidal forces from the sun are responsible for a tiny portion of the heat in our core. The heat I'm sure is an infinitesimal contribution, but the tidal forces less so.
 
2013-03-18 08:21:04 AM  
And turning off the dark actually did more to harm Spider-Man than help him.
 
2013-03-18 08:23:16 AM  

BravadoGT: Whatever.  Results don't matter!  Only what's in our HEARTS


Just like the Iraq war.
 
2013-03-18 08:25:46 AM  
Slate article hmm I smell horse manure

and trees are bad for the environment
thanks Ronald Regan
 
2013-03-18 08:39:32 AM  

manimal2878: Translation: only invest in technologies that involve fossil fuels.  I was paid to right this article by an oil company.


Wind-farms: Costly, high maintenance, susceptible to extremes in weather and represent an intermittent supply spike problem when plugged into the national grid. Most studies seem to indicate that these projects are designed from the ground up to farm subsidies, not produce power.

Geothermal provides a more manageable source of energy with the infrastructure cost challenge to overcome unless you happen to be near a major plate boundary... which means some maintenance cost following any tectonic upheaval... which such projects are known to cause... also the the not insignificant environmental risks...

Solar is challenged by weather, storage and delivery, (also intermittent). Not forgetting the energy sink represented by the actual panels, (it could take anywhere up to 9-11 years for a panel to pay back the energy cost raised in its fabrication)

So is it delusional or realistic to look at making more efficient use of the current supply chain?
 
2013-03-18 08:43:02 AM  

Prof. Frink


Either you do, or do-not, have tides, so either way you have a source of energy.


Tide not. Do, or do not. There is no tide.
 
2013-03-18 08:43:24 AM  

untaken_name: Something promoted as beneficial for the environment actually harms it? NO! Never!

/recycling (clean metal recycling conditionally excluded)
//hybrid cars
///CFL light bulbs
////etcetcetcetcetcetc


Say what?

Recycling glass doesn't really harm the environment. It basically goes through the same production as making new glass.

CFL light bulbs have a tiny amount of mercury and some electronics. All can be easily produced and recycled without much harm. Sure, tossing them in the dump isn't really so great from an environmental perspective, but everywhere I've lived has CFL recycling centers. I've had CFL lights for years and years and the energy (and corresponding pollution) they've saved have more than made up for the environmental and energy costs used to make them.
 
2013-03-18 08:49:17 AM  

Animatronik: 7KQ201_McKittrick: We have enough oil to last forever, practically.

Seems to me that fracking may be proof that this isn't true. If we had unlimited oil, why are we using such a complicated maneuver to get more out of the ground?


Isn't fracking primarily used to get at natural gas? This is the first I've heard of fracking being used for oil.
 
2013-03-18 08:52:04 AM  
TAKE THAT, YOU DIRTY HIPPIES
 
2013-03-18 08:57:45 AM  
Celebrate by installing some LED bulbs?
 
2013-03-18 08:58:42 AM  
How did this end up with the "Ironic" tag?  Did "Stupid" and "Obvious" take one another out?
 
2013-03-18 09:01:13 AM  

nulluspixiusdemonica: manimal2878: Translation: only invest in technologies that involve fossil fuels.  I was paid to right this article by an oil company.

Wind-farms: Costly, high maintenance, susceptible to extremes in weather and represent an intermittent supply spike problem when plugged into the national grid. Most studies seem to indicate that these projects are designed from the ground up to farm subsidies, not produce power.

Geothermal provides a more manageable source of energy with the infrastructure cost challenge to overcome unless you happen to be near a major plate boundary... which means some maintenance cost following any tectonic upheaval... which such projects are known to cause... also the the not insignificant environmental risks...

Solar is challenged by weather, storage and delivery, (also intermittent). Not forgetting the energy sink represented by the actual panels, (it could take anywhere up to 9-11 years for a panel to pay back the energy cost raised in its fabrication)

So is it delusional or realistic to look at making more efficient use of the current supply chain?


First of all, cost is a temporary problem, the more ubiquitous a technology the faster it drops in price and increases in efficiency. Second of all you are only looking at installation and maintenance cost vs. direct cost of energy savings, what about the indirect savings of not destroying our environment? How much has increased storm activity, droughts, and wildfires cost us? If that can be alleviated by alternative energy that is saving as well. Lastly, the intermittence/ storability problems are battery problems more than energy generation problems. You want to convince me we need more funding for energy storage tech? I'm right with you, but solar and wind are still our current best alternative generation means.
 
2013-03-18 09:03:23 AM  
This whole turning out the lights thing is completely symbolic and part of the revisionist history that states that the invention of electric lighting (by Edison singlehandledy, of course, ignoring any other contributions to the effort) was what spawned the Industrial Revolution. It was not lighting, but mechanical power, that electricity truly revolutionized. Gone were smoky, puttery hit and miss engines that powered smaller workplaces, as well as the large steam plants required to power larger factories. Tesla's two greatest inventions, the AC motor and the multi-phase system of electric transmission, allowed power to be generated in huge plants outside of cities, keeping the pollution produced farther away. It also opened the door to clean generation technologies like hydropower and, half a century later, nuclear (though of course the cleanliness of that is open to debate for many.)

I don't understand this statement: "As the United Kingdom's National Grid operators have found, a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions." This statement doesn't make sense. You cannot have a decline in consumption, yet put the same amount of energy into the grid. The grid is a complex network, but electrical theories remain the same: power in must equal power out, after transmission losses (resistive and reactive) are factored in.

Want to really make a statement? Turn off your air conditioner on a sweltering summer afternoon and use fans for an hour or two. A/C uses far more energy than all lighting put together.
 
2013-03-18 09:12:05 AM  

powerplantgirl:  So for your one hour of emissions savings, I get to spend 15 minutes watching the turbines belt out NOx and CO and CO2 to make you feel better about turning off a lightbulb.


Also I've never heard of a utility actually opposing Earth Hour. But if they were going to it'd probably be on the grounds that it's kind of a pain in the ass to have to balance the load from a bunch of yahoos flipping their lights on and off.
 
2013-03-18 09:33:21 AM  

Voiceofreason01: powerplantgirl:  So for your one hour of emissions savings, I get to spend 15 minutes watching the turbines belt out NOx and CO and CO2 to make you feel better about turning off a lightbulb.

Also I've never heard of a utility actually opposing Earth Hour. But if they were going to it'd probably be on the grounds that it's kind of a pain in the ass to have to balance the load from a bunch of yahoos flipping their lights on and off.


Yeah I've never heard of one opposing it either. Trying to balance a grid when the load loses even 5% from one hour to the next then back is really a pain, especially during lower load times because we've already compensated for the lower power demands of a night grid. And now we have to oblige all of the yahoos...
;)
 
2013-03-18 09:39:13 AM  

UnspokenVoice: powerplantgirl: J. Frank Parnell: powerplantgirl: I was also just trying to say it really doesn't matter about one hour of "lost profits", we're making MORE emissions to cover this one hour of an "earthly gesture"

Yeah, i got all that. But i still think the brief drop in paying customers, maybe combined with any costs of cycling things down and up, is what motivates power companies to try and deter people from doing it, rather than a concern for the environment.

The hour that people are turning off their lights isn't even during peak usage hours. It's more of a nuisance than money thing (from my perspective) because plants like to be ran at one load, for the most part, and any cycling of the units is harder on them. So yes you run the risk of breaking more things by cycling the units, but those broken parts will just be passed along in your rates.
If you really wanted to argue about the power companies losing money for this one hour, I'd maybe see your point of it was during the day at peak usage, but as I read it it's at night, which means they're losing an hour of residential sales (not business sales) which are significantly lower.

More of a pain in the ass than financially motivated really.

He'd rather go with his gut than listen to someone in the industry explain it to them with facts and logic. You can't fix that. I have 'em farkied as someone thinking that humans aren't physically meant to eat meat. I'm pretty sure you can't "win" this no matter how right you are.


Wut?! Who doesn't eat meat ffs?!
No meat AND he hates power?

:D
 
2013-03-18 09:59:29 AM  
Article was exactly on track about ivory tower environmental activists. A lot of what people think is green is junk science.
 
2013-03-18 10:02:21 AM  
The messaging of Earth Hour is so awful, because it lets assholes like this say, "See? Environmentalists are just Luddites!".
 
2013-03-18 10:17:08 AM  

destrip: This whole turning out the lights thing is completely symbolic and part of the revisionist history that states that the invention of electric lighting (by Edison singlehandledy, of course, ignoring any other contributions to the effort) was what spawned the Industrial Revolution. It was not lighting, but mechanical power, that electricity truly revolutionized. Gone were smoky, puttery hit and miss engines that powered smaller workplaces, as well as the large steam plants required to power larger factories. Tesla's two greatest inventions, the AC motor and the multi-phase system of electric transmission, allowed power to be generated in huge plants outside of cities, keeping the pollution produced farther away. It also opened the door to clean generation technologies like hydropower and, half a century later, nuclear (though of course the cleanliness of that is open to debate for many.)

I don't understand this statement: "As the United Kingdom's National Grid operators have found, a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions." This statement doesn't make sense. You cannot have a decline in consumption, yet put the same amount of energy into the grid. The grid is a complex network, but electrical theories remain the same: power in must equal power out, after transmission losses (resistive and reactive) are factored in.

Want to really make a statement? Turn off your air conditioner on a sweltering summer afternoon and use fans for an hour or two. A/C uses far more energy than all lighting put together.


That would be fine as long as the AC remained off until the outside temps dropped, but shutting it down for a few hours and letting the heat build up in the house won't reduce electricity usage. The AC would just have to work longer to remove the heat once it came back on.
 
2013-03-18 10:17:33 AM  
If you truly want to do something to help save this planet then start having babies.  The more carbon we can store in bodies the less there will be free in the environment.  As long as we stay ahead of the death rate we are healing the Earth.
 
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