Monday, March 31, 2008

The Earth Hour bust

I replied to a post on an Amazon "climate change forum" subtitled "What should we do to mitigate climate change?". Here's the original post:
Initial post: Mar 11, 2008 12:44 AM PDT
John Croft says:

Climate change is the biggest problem facing the world. March 29th is the time of "Earth Hour" where cities around the world are encouraged to draw attention to turning off lights for one hour. It began in Sydeny last year and 24 cities worldwide have officially signed on.

Does such changes reeally make a difference?

James Lovelock in Gaia's Revenge suggests that it is already too late to prevent a major disaster, and that by this time next century most of the tropics will be uninhabitable. He believes there is a real risk of the collapse of civilisaion.

What do you think? People talk about the need for mitigation and adaptation, but no one really talks about how are we going to help those wo through no fau;lt of their own are going to suffer most?

Please share your ideas here?



To which I replied:
Your post, in reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2008 6:13 PM PDT

Steven W. Erbach says:

Mr. Croft,

All right. I'm afraid my "ideas" are pretty conventional:

1) "Earth Hour" will be as effective at halting global warming as "World Jump Day" was in perturbing the orbit of the earth; as the "Gas Out" protests were in affecting gas prices; and as the Green Hanukkia campaign was in lowering world CO2 emissions.

2) Lets stop pussy-footing around about alternative energy and build another hundred nuclear power plants in the U. S. We've only got 102 plants now and we get 20% of our electricity from them. Windmills? To generate as much electricity as is currently generated by nuclear power we'd have to erect well over 30,000 3.25 megawatt, 40-story-tall windmills, with none of them down in river valleys or canyons or low spots. Nope, all the prime high-ground real estate in the U.S. would have to be purchased for this task...and we'd still get only 20% of the energy we produce now.

3) If you want to get serious about proving man's role in climate change, then lets pony up $100 billion to do it. We MUST find out the relative degree to which the climate is affected by anthropogenic causes before we go laying our hands on the bible of the Precautionary Principle and signing away our childrens' future to pay for attempts to change the climate back to what it's "supposed to be".

4) There's so much talk of the effects of higher temperatures with higher death rates. What puzzles the heck out of me -- since I'm from a state that has a pretty good winter -- is that the death rate of people exposed to cold is far greater than it is for those exposed to heat. I'd LIKE it to be warmer if it means fewer cold-related deaths!

5) "The biggest problem facing the world"? Hardly. One good war does more damage in human terms than a century of global warming. One degree Celsius in a *century*?! And that's going to lead to a "catastrophe"? Completely and utterly incredible.

That's a good starting list. Those were off the top of my head.

Steve Erbach
Neenah, WI

So now come the results from around the world about how much energy was saved during "Earth Hour". This blog entry is from the web site:
Earth Hour crashes to Earth
Andrew Bolt
Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 11:01am

Credit the public with sense. Earth Hour, hysterically promoted by The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, the ABC, SBS, Sky News and the federal and state governments, resulted in no significant fall in power usage.

Check the graphs from our National Electricity Market Management Company, tracking power use between 8pm and 9pm (a period in which demand always plummets):

Here is the graph for Victoria:


Nothing much there that I can see. By way of comparison, here’s the graph from the day before:


NSW may have had a tiny cut in demand just after 8pm, but in fact ended up the night using more power than the day before:


As with the graphs, so with the crowds:

More than 1000 people braved the chill and the rain to see Premier John Brumby and Lord Mayor John So lead the countdown to 8pm… At the top of the Rialto, a small crowd had a sense of anticlimax when there was no widespread blackout at 8pm. In fact, across the CBD rows of illuminated office windows, with little sign of beavering workers behind them, showed not everyone had read the memo.

The organisers will say never mind, this was about raising awareness (although not of raising awareness of the facts). But here’s the awareness it should raise: how difficult it is to get even a tiny cut in just electricity use for one lousy hour, in a country responsible for just 1.5 per cent of the world’s emissions.

And then think what the Rudd Government is promising: a 60 per cent cut in all emissions, all year. And it’s to be matched by every country around the world.

Meanwhile, the world has not warmed since 1998. Indeed, the oceans and atmosphere have cooled over the past couple.

There were 236 comments when I read the article. One Aussie commentator is a man after my own heart:

Well I did my bit.

Every light in the house was turned on, the stereo was on, the TV was on, two computers were turned on - I even turned on all lights in the garage and outside the house.

After my beacon of sanity was shining for all to see, the family and I left my humble, well lit home and hopped into the 4WD to drive around Melbourne for the entire hour.

While driving around, we counted the houses on my block that had their lights turned on (admittedly an informal, unscientific count) and we plan on doing the same next Saturday night at 8pm to compare. We also took special note of any business illuminated with their lights shining, and agreed to make efforts to use their products whenever we can.

Before heading home, we drove down Chapel Street and had a bit of a chuckle at the candlelight vigils taking place at some (note: not the majority) of the trendy bars and coffee shops in their efforts to pose and pat themselves on the back. I only wish I had taken a picture of the gigantic stretch Hummer limousine parked right there outside of one of these bars, fully equipped with plasma screens, neon lights and the works.

One can only imagine the invitations sent out for this bucks night: “Show the world that you care - arrive at the Earth Hour festivities in style - in a Hummer!”

Myth Hour did not disappoint.