Earth Hour: Do nothing, and feel good about it

Pat yourselves on the back, Toronto! You've done it: absolutely nothing. Well, you did turn the lights off for a few minutes on Saturday. But overall it accomplishes nothing. The Toronto Star's article has the key facts and figures:

2,738 MW: The lowest demand for the hour
5% : the percentage drop from the previous hour
8.7%: the difference between the lowest demand of Earth Hour compared to the average for a typical late March Saturday night.
8:54 PM: The time at which that lowest demand was reached.

So way to go! You managed to reduce energy usage for about 5, 6 minutes. Because, as Toronto Hydro supervisor John Fletcher said, "People will forget to put out the lights ... but they won't forget to put them back on." And sure enough, when the giant clock jumped 21:00, then 21:05, the numbers rose as surely as they dropped.

Now I don't want to rain on everyone's parade, but let's look at this Earth Hour thing objectively:

1. No changes will be made because of it:
  • businesses will still leave their lights on even though nobody is in the office
  • Stores will leave exterior lights on unnecessarily
  • Yonge+Dundas Square is still filled with light pollution from those retarded ads
  • Nobody did anything about the dozens of power-wasting devices in their homes, such as DVD players, cable boxes, TVs, stereos, computers, and AC/DC converters that are wasting power even when you're not using the device
  • No politicians saw all the lights go out and decided "I'm going to support pro-environmental legislation, now that I know how serious the people are about this!"
2. It didn't even save any energy, in the big picture:
  • 8.7% is a lot, except it was for one hour
  • Oh wait, not even an hour, we only saved 8.7% for 6 minutes
  • Even if we had saved that for a WHOLE HOUR, that's still only 1/24th of a day
  • which adds up to 1/8760 of a year, or 0.01% of the energy used in a year
  • That is, it would be 0.01% of the year's energy if Earth Hour had happened during peak usage, which it didn't.
I think we should be glad that people want to chip in and help the environment, but we need to focus because this is not a small problem which can be solved by stunts like this. Instead we need to demand that manufacturers report things like how much power their devices waste when not in use. We need to demand that businesses install motion sensors or other features to enable better use of lights when they aren't needed as much. We should demand that politicians legislate about light pollution: light pollution is wasted energy, and it harms migrating birds and makes it impossible to see the stars. Why shine a light into space when you can shine it only where you need it?

Let's do SOMETHING about energy waste. Let's turn those lights off and KEEP them off.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Last time some one turn the lights off and stayed off (OK for a few days) it was during the east coast blackout. Although it did not saved money it sure haunted a lot of people's mind from that experience. Hell I was one of them. Yes did my little part of just going outside and leaving the lights and other stuff off (come to think of it I should of just turned off the main house switch tee hee). Anyhoo if they really wanted to make a dent they should invest money on more efficient lightings and what have not. Say LED or something like that. Heck even just have people voluntarely take the TTC for that day without car I think the lack of emission from the cars would have helped but meh, we didn't elect these people to really use their brains. My 2 cents or so.