Earth Hour: Use as much electricity as you possibly can!

March 29th, 2008
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Folks, tonight is the of something called “earth hour” when people across the world will be asked to turn off their lights both to conserve electricity and reduce light pollution for those who want a clear view of the sky. They’ll also be asked to do whatever they can to reduce electrical usage or ideally use no electricity at all. Some people are actually going to be shutting down their electricity at the breaker to make a statement.

The idea is to cut greenhouse gasses and I am certain that when this is all said and done a very large number will be put out there for all the thousands of tons of CO2 which were not released. Of course, this number will simply take the total energy conserved and convert it to CO2 produced for that number of kilowatt hours, and therefore it has absolutely no baring on reality. Whether or not there will actually be a big reduction or a reduction at all is more questionable, considering the need for spinning reserve and the short time that this is going on – far too short to shut down any boilers or even combined cycle power plants.

What shocked me is that last year it was stated that Sydney Australia’s electrical demand dropped by 2-10% as millions participated. And to be honest, that got me just a little bit worried.

So what am I doing now? Well I’m using as much electricity as I reasonably can. More importantly I’m running two air conditioners (and I’m not even hot), a couple fans and a vacuum cleaner. Why? Those all have induction motors in them. Given this only one phase service it’s less than ideal, but the point is that tonight I’d rather not cause a problem and infact I’d rather pick up for the morons whose symbolic act could actually cause some real problems.

It’s a quarter after 8 on the East Coast of the US right now. Getting past the 8 o’clock mark was the easy part, but at 9 o’clock we’ll see what happens.

No I don’t really expect my air conditioners to make much difference but it’s my little protest against overly-simplistic actions for the environment. We should all do our part to conserve energy and electricity, but NOT all at the exact same freakin moment!

This entry was posted on Saturday, March 29th, 2008 at 7:20 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Enviornment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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62 Responses to “Earth Hour: Use as much electricity as you possibly can!”

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  1. 51
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Sung Li Kim said:

    Everyone EXCEPT for the power plant workers and electrical grid maintenance workers who had to bite their nails and stand at the ready in case YOUR idiotic show of passion actually did blow the grid from a massive power surge and subsequent sudden dip.

    I have ZERO respect for this type of “rallying the masses” because it does no good except stroke the egos of those involved. The only purpose is activism. There is no gain, nor a real purpose. You are NOT building awareness. You are building ignorance, ignorance which can only be broken by a hard slap from reality.

    Yeah I agree with that. “Mobilizing the masses” is great… IF they are mobilized to do something useful. Mobilizing the masses to do something useless and then spend the next few days patting each other on the back and talking about how great they did is worse than worthless.

    In this case it’s really not the thought that counts. Even if the actions are motivated by admirable goals, it really doesn’t help the real problems.

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  2. 52
    JeebusFishes Says:

    Actually if you look at this page apparently the problem was brought up and addressed:

    7. Is there danger of a power surge when the lights get turned back on?

    No. WWF and the Earth Hour partners are working closely with the energy providers in each city to ensure a safe event with no adverse impact on power systems.

    So in other words, the power companies have planned for this, which is not all that surprising because they plan for all sorts of things that might cause demand changes. They can absorb excess energy on the grid with no problem. The worst that happens is that it increases voltage enough to breakdown some safety gaps on equipment and it ends up being dissipated into arcs or big resistors. The sudden drop resulting in standing waves is not usually a problem in modern systems.

    The danger is sudden surges of demand, as in after the event when the lights go back on. If you look at reports some cities saw power drop 5% or even 8% which is enough to get concerned about when it comes back because it will not only be in a short time, but many things need a lot more peak power on startup.

    You know how the power companies prepare for surges in demand? They either open their water turbines or they make sure they have as much spinning reserve as needed. If it’s a thermal plant the idea is to get it going on high power and build up enough of a head of steam to keep the turbines spinning if resistance goes up.

    Since it takes longer than an hour to get that going, they likely turned UP the power before 8 o’clock to be sure there was spinning reserve at 9.

    if this is the case (and I bet it is). Not only was energy wasted, but more coal/oil/gas was burned and more hydro reserve depleted than if this had not happened.

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  3. 53
    Trumbles Says:

    That is in general how generating management works: When in doubt, be sure you have all the reserve you might need for an anticipated surge. I would not be surprised. In that case, more coal was burned than needed to be/

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  4. 54
    Soylent Says:

            A Golden Guitar said:

    Wow. I think you are all majority wrong about this.

    Why does it matter so much to you to try to pick down how much might really have been saved?

    You’re really down on this whole idea and so discouraging.

    Because the attention and planing that went into it could have been spent actually helping the environment instead of a self-congratulatory circle jerk that does close to nothing at all for the environment.

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  5. 55
    drbuzz0 Says:

    Am I the only one here who sees a recurring pattern? That is, that the entire damn thing seems to be justified by the fact that it has given people enough of an illusion of doing something that they are now “proud” and “happy” and that if we burst that bubble it ruins the whole point of this thing?

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  6. 56
    Magic Donuts Says:

    No, I don’t think you’re the only one who noticed that EVERY single thing in support of it, when confronted by the fact that it did nothing and likely caused harm, seems to say the same thing “People feel like they did something, and you shouldn’t take that away from them.”

    Yes, just leave those who shut off their lights in blissful ignorance, because apparently that’s the best policy. Damn, it’s worse than I thought!

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  7. 57
    Evil Henchman Says:

            Soylent said:

    Because the attention and planing that went into it could have been spent actually helping the environment instead of a self-congratulatory circle jerk that does close to nothing at all for the environment.

    A circle jerk. That’s about what it amounts to. Congratulations everyone! :-D

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  8. 58
    s.r.intulom Says:

    A colleague at work here (Canberra) had guests on Saturday night, and to do her bit for Earth Hour had to get in her car to go and buy candles.

    She thought of it as a small harmless symbolical gesture, but hadn’t thought of the extra CO2 emitted both by candles and her car (if you think that matters), the fire danger of having unnecessary candles with small children about, the increased likelihood of someone tripping and injuring themselves in the dark, the increased opportunities for burglars with reduced street lighting, etc, etc, etc.

    Of course it makes sense to reduce energy use in sensible ways that add no danger, but we don’t need sanctimonious idiots to tell us that waste is not a good thing.

    This idiocy was advertised in Sydney by a methane-powered hot-air balloon (more CO2) and recorded by photographers in helicopters (yet more ditto).

    This is just a stupid idea in almost every way you can think of, and the more people who take it up the worse it will be.

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  9. 59
    RBR1978 Says:

    Methane is worse than just the burning. The process of producing and transporting it involves leaks and releases here and there. It’s much more potent than CO2, so the whole cycle considered, methane is not as great as some make it out to be.

    Then what about the candles? Not only burning them. They’re probably made from petroleum-based wax. It has to be refined, isolated and so on. Then dyed, manufactured and there you go. Then add in transporting them to the store and all so on.

    I’m not saying that candles are a horrible thing or that you should be so anti-consumer you don’t buy anything, but this goes to show how simplistic the logic is. Much of the savings are totally destroyed by something like going out to buy and burn candles and then having the hot air balloon burn methane which took energy to separate and compress and also contributed to methane leaking.

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  10. 60
    JCS Diver 79 Says:

    Okay, let me just state my point on nuclear power since this seems to be a big part of things. I’m not sure about what the future of power is. For a long time I’ve been behind wind and solar but really I’m starting to be very frustrated with that because getting more involved it seems that they are turning out to be a lot less than was ever promised. The amount of power we get from the two is tiny and I realize that we have been working hard to build them. Wind has been getting a lot of heat recently and I looked at a few things about it. I think it might deserve it because it sounds like it doesn’t help as much as they want us to think.

    The new thing solar thermal I don’t know. I’m honestly hopeful but skeptical about it, because I have seen the figures and it keeps saying it’s “almost there” and i’m feeling deja vu with it from what has been said as long as I can remember about solar and wind. I really think they might never make it and I’m concerned that we need to do something soon. Also, I have seen ethanol turn into a mess.

    I think nuclear fusion would be the best thing, but now we can’t do that. (Will we ever???) So we have regulat nuclear power now. We can do it and it works. That’s great. I have two issues with it: Safety and waste. Safety I believe is a concern but I think we can do it. I think if safety is number 1 and we make sure to do it right and have all the safety measures and maybe more safety measures than we really need then it can be done safely. The waste is the problem I really have and I think it’s the achelies heal of nuclear power. Nuclear would be great without waste, I’ll admit right now. We replace one evil with another. So what do we do with it? We bury it. That’s all well and good and you might sya “let sleeping dogs lie.” As long as we burry it there’s a big sleeping dog that could wake up and thats why I worry. We have to worry about what will happen. It’s like a time bomb. It is fine as long as nothing bad happens to it. What if something does? What if someone gets into it? Then we’re in trouble or at leas they are.

    This is why my thoughts on nuclear power is that we should use it if we have to as a last resort but keep it to the minimum just because of the waste issue. Also, I believe it should be done with safety as number 1 in the concerns and when we are not sure then don’t do it. Be 200% sure with safety.

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  11. 61
    drbuzz0 Says:

    JCS. I am glad you are getting frustrated with solar and wind (not that I want you to get frustrated) but they really are pretty empty due to the simple fact that the energy they seek to tap is very dillute and hence there is an enormous area which is needed. this added to their intermittent nature, makes them inherantly need large and expensive systems and always makes them less than ideal for reliable energy.

    Solar thermal is really not any better. It’s slightly less effecient than PV. It tends to be more complicated to maintain, because at least with PV it’s mechanically simple. Solar thermal has the one and only advantage that it can store some of the energy as thermal mass. It’s really nothing better than the previous.

    Nuclear: Yes it can be very safe, and as you say, safety must always be issue number one. This is not because I think nuclear needs to be more obsessed with safety than other technologies, but if you’re doing it for the good of the enviornment and locals then safety is obviously the issue you need to be sure of. It’s just good responsibility.

    The waste is a bit less of a problem than you might have been lead to believe. Right now, with technology that is in use, not prototypical or theoretical but in use, we can reduce the amount of waste by 99%. Yes, 99% The British do it to a point. The French do it with nearly all their waste. The Japanese are not far behind.

    The remaining 1% can be embeded in synthetic glasses which are more stable than almost all minerals. Once diluted and converter it’s not all that dangerous. Very little sheilding is required. It will be decay and in a couple of decades it will not be all that much more radioactive than the original mineral materials that you started off with. In a couple hundred years it will be less radioactive. Storing something for that length of time is no sweat from a geological standpoint. Things might change geologically in millions of years and perhaps even in hundreds of thousands, but a couple hundred is no big deal. Even if it was unearthed, the glassy material won’t turn to dust. It won’t disolve. At worst it will fracture into little bits. Even then, the hazard is minimal and not that much worse than minerals that exist. And agian, this is only a couple hundred years before it’s no worse.

    There are ways to have nuclear energy with zero waste and they have been proven though not used in scale applications. These involve using accelerators to transmutate all the waste with high energy particle and super high energy photons. At this point, this is generally thought to be unnecessarily expensive and complex a process given the fact that the current methods work so well, but it can be done.

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  12. 62
    Flu-Bird Says:

    If we didnt have a bunch of stupid hippy freaks blabbering we should ride bikes to work or to observe this EARTH HOUR popy**** or to go green WELL NOT ME i cant afford those stupid COMPACT FLORECENTS and i cant afford organic ether. Why dont these eco-pests do us a favor and for a whole 24 hour period keep their flapping pieholes shut so we dont have to listen to their stupid ideas

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