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Why Earth Hour Is a Waste of Time and Energy 466

Posted by Soulskill
from the 'like'-this-if-you-want-to-seem-like-you-care-but-are-too-lazy-to-do-anything dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Next Saturday from 8:30PM to 9:30PM EST is 'Earth Hour' (0:30 to 1:30 UTC on Sunday). Millions of people will be participating by shutting off their lights for an hour to show they care about the environment. However, according to this article in Slate, Earth Hour is simply 'vain symbolism,' and it won't actually save any energy — quite the opposite. Quoting: 'Notice that you have not been asked to switch off anything really inconvenient, like your heating or air-conditioning, television, computer, mobile phone, or any of the myriad technologies that depend on affordable, plentiful energy electricity and make modern life possible. If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759? Hypothetically, switching off the lights for an hour would cut CO2 emissions from power plants around the world. But, even if everyone in the entire world cut all residential lighting, and this translated entirely into CO2 reduction, it would be the equivalent of China pausing its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes. In fact, Earth Hour will cause emissions to increase. 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. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"
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Why Earth Hour Is a Waste of Time and Energy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:09PM (#43205341)
    But I couldnt find my keyboard in the dark
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:20PM (#43205505) Homepage Journal
      Why can't we just fucking STOP the twice a year transition to/from Daylight Savings Time?!??!

      Likely as not, it would save more energy, and certainly help with human internal clocks.

      From what I understand, they actually observer statistically distinct spikes in heart attacks and suicides with the time changes each year.

      • Re: How about this? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:22PM (#43205541)

        Only a politician would think you could cut a foot from one end of a blanket, sew it to the other end, and have a bigger blanket.

        • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:17PM (#43206275)

          Except in this case, for some people, it does.

          If the blanket is "daylight hours", then tweaking the clocks so that less of those hours occur when I am sleeping means I see more daylight hours. Of course people who get up and go to bed earlier than me could see less daylight hours or just see the timing of them moved a little. Still in the country I happen those who see more daylight hours outnumber those that see less for a net win.

          • by Lithdren (605362) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:51PM (#43206675)

            I honestly have no idea what you mean.

            A vast majority of people, the whole concept is a huge waste of time. If someone wants to have more daylight hours in their work day, wakeup just before daylight. Why move the freaking clocks? It doesn't make any sense, and it never has. Hours are just a measurement, there's nothing that says you have to be asleep at 7am. If you want to get up early because you'll get more daylight for things you're doing, get up early!

            Instead we have this system where we jump the time forward or back an hour, and it serves no prupuse. It's a waste of time and energy.

            • by Baloroth (2370816) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:59PM (#43206753)

              If someone wants to have more daylight hours in their work day, wakeup just before daylight. Why move the freaking clocks? It doesn't make any sense, and it never has. Hours are just a measurement, there's nothing that says you have to be asleep at 7am. If you want to get up early because you'll get more daylight for things you're doing, get up early!

              Sure, and if you could convince a few hundred million people to do that, you probably wouldn't be commenting on Slashdot, you'd be President of the whole planet. People are not rational, and they do not behave rationally. A person is, sure, but people as a group are not, and they never have been. You can make all the theories you want about how daylight savings was always a stupid idea, but if you forget that large groups of people are involved, and that those people won't follow the logical path, you're just wasting energy typing.

              Mind you, with how cheap electricity is now, and with how much interior lighting is used anyways, it doesn't matter anymore and hasn't for decades, but it made sense at one point.

            • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Monday March 18, 2013 @04:39PM (#43207199)

              I don't want more daylight before work. I'd rather have 5 hours of light after work than 1 hour before and 4 hour after.
              Larger blocks of time to do things means less time is wasted starting and stopping.

            • by nedlohs (1335013)

              Why not move the clocks. Hours are just a measurement after all, we can change them to better suit our environment. I don't want to get up early for more daylight, I happen to want my daylight at the end of the day (heck I'm all for putting the clocks back 4 hours in winter...) and apparently enough people agree with me that large chunks of the world change their timezone in order to make that easier.

              What time and energy is being wasted?

              All my clocks (ok except the one the stove, which is wrong anyway) chan

              • Neither daylight savings nor the absence of daylight savings is extremely difficult to manage. It is that daylight savings is more difficult to manage correctly than simply changing the times you do things.

                We could for example change the size of a liter of water to double the amount in summer time. People need to drink more water in summer because it's hotter. If we double the amount of a liter in the summer then we can always drink 1 liter of water and be safe from heat stroke. We could even call them

          • by CAIMLAS (41445)

            You must not live in the country. Typical farm and/or ranch days start at 5am and end at 8 or 9 evening. In most of the US, this means daylight savings really doesn't help anyone: the day is dark when they get up, and the sun is setting or already set when their day is done. Many of these people don't even operate by the clock, anyway: they're up an hour before dawn, and work late into the evening regardless (or work by the sun during the summer). It only really makes sense if we're talking about pre-indust

          • by chrismcb (983081)
            Ok, but why bother to switch back in the winter? If we stayed on PST all winter, it would get dark at 5pm instead of 4.
      • by omnichad (1198475)

        Studies have proven that having DST at all does save energy - artificial lights used fewer hours per day. I don't know if staying on that time all year would negate that savings or not.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Endo13 (1000782)

          And other studies done when DST was increased a few years ago showed increased energy use due to more home AC use. AC uses a lot more power than artificial lighting, and home AC is generally a lot less efficient than commercial AC.

          But that's all moot, because you can achieve the same thing as DST simply by having places of business open and close an hour earlier. Except, of course, without the downside of stupidly forcing everyone to change their clocks and adjust to a different time twice a year.

          So how abo

          • by jittles (1613415)

            But that's all moot, because you can achieve the same thing as DST simply by having places of business open and close an hour earlier. Except, of course, without the downside of stupidly forcing everyone to change their clocks and adjust to a different time twice a year.

            Don't I have to adjust to a different time twice a year if my work shift changes by an hour twice a year? I mean don't get me wrong, I hate DST, and I work from home most of the time, so it doesn't really matter to me, but it seems like its practically the same thing for 90% of the population.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Then I'm going to cut down 6 trees and key 4 people's cars.
  • is exactly this. Now I dont know anyone who in their right mind wants to "destroy the environment" yet for the most part, environmentalists work on a knee jerk reaction style of attack. "green" energy is too expensive to compete with proven yet "dirty" tech? well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel! we cant use plain old light bulbs anymore, that use more power (and give off heat, thus meaning one could in theory keep their heater lower) a
    • by cyborg_zx (893396) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:35PM (#43205721)

      "Saving the Earth," sounds better than "Saving ourselves," even though the later is plainly more honest on any environmental issue you care to name.

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:36PM (#43205737)

      "green" energy is too expensive to compete with proven yet "dirty" tech? well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel!

      Yes, we should just let everyone burn cheap dirty fuel without any let or hindrance. Why should they pay anything for the health costs to the community from people who killed by cancer, the changes in climate, or anything else? It's only those commie greenies who think polluters should have to pay for the harm they do. We all know that if we just let business make the maximum profit in the shortest time then everything else will solve itself.

      environmentalists work on a knee jerk reaction style of attack.

      Whereas climate change deniers will just find some silly statement some environmentalist said and try to use it to discredit everything any environmentalist ever said. So they can go back to using "plain old lightbulbs", driving their SUVs, and not giving a crap about the next generation.

      • by ganjadude (952775)
        thank you, for proving my point actually.

        no one is saying that we cant ease out "dirty" tech, simply that we do it over time. Instead of inflating the existing costs of enery to make green techs look better now, all while hurting the people at the bottom the most, gas is 4 bucks a gallon, 10 years ago it was 98 cents. instead of trying to make it all happen at once (in the scheme of things) let the tech mature. All technology matures, some faster than others, but let the tech mature and bring the price do
        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:48PM (#43205909)

          Without any adoption the tech will never advance.

          $4/gallon is still very cheap for gas, last time I was in Europe I paid over $10/gallon.

          On top of which dirty tech is often cheap due to externalities. Since you don't pay for the cancer the kids down the street from the coal plant get your light bulbs are very cheap for you and expensive for them.

          • by ganjadude (952775)
            sorry but "think of the children" is an automatic losing argument for me. as I said, let the early adopters pick up the high price tag and let the lower class continue to survive instead of jacking up the costs on their needs
        • by Teckla (630646)

          no one is saying that we cant ease out "dirty" tech, simply that we do it over time.

          And you, of course, know precisely how much time we have, right?

          Instead of inflating the existing costs of enery to make green techs look better now, all while hurting the people at the bottom the most, gas is 4 bucks a gallon, 10 years ago it was 98 cents.

          When inflation is factored in, the price of has, on average, not changed very much.

          instead of trying to make it all happen at once (in the scheme of things) let the tech mature.

          Except nobody is trying to make it happen all at once. You're just trying to smear the opposition by accusing them of an extremist position they're not actually taking.

          All technology matures, some faster than others, but let the tech mature and bring the price down to the levels of mature tech. not everyone jumps in to be a early adopter, most people wait for the price to drop, a 10K PC 8 years ago costs a few hundred bucks today.

          A pathetic amount of government money is funneled into alternative energy research. What are you bitching about? It's estimated that the Iraq war cost over $3 trillion dollars. How much money did t

          • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:41PM (#43206527)

            Instead of inflating the existing costs of enery to make green techs look better now, all while hurting the people at the bottom the most, gas is 4 bucks a gallon, 10 years ago it was 98 cents.

            When inflation is factored in, the price of has, on average, not changed very much.

            Inflation in the USA, from 2000 to 2012 (yes, it's a bit longer than ten years, but I like round numbers) was ~32%.

            Adjust that $0.98/gal upwards by 32%, and we get ~$1.30/gal for gas.

            $4.00/gal is NOT, contrary to your beliefs, "not changed very much" from $1.30.

        • by SleazyRidr (1563649) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:20PM (#43206311)

          One of the reasons "dirty" tech is cheaper is because you're making other people pay for the consequences of your actions. I could save myself some money on trash pickup if I just throw all my trash into my neighbors yard, but as a society we've decided that you're not allowed to shove your problems onto other people like that. We're not artificially raising prices, we're just making people pay for what they're already using.

          • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday March 18, 2013 @05:22PM (#43207593)

            but as a society we've decided that you're not allowed to shove your problems onto other people like that

            Unless you're adding trillions of dollars of brand new, stifling debt to those other/future people's paycheck burden. Then it's OK. Those people are temporal neighbors, not geographic neighbors. Screw 'em, right? We've got some overpriced lab tests to subsidize so that a doctor can fend off spurious malpractice suits surrounding the impending death of a 95 year old cancer patient.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      To be clear, when people say "Saving the earth", they mean "Make sure it supports human life".
      To not interpret it as such means you are missing the whole point and concern people have about this issue.
      I have heard plenty of people state that they dont care about the environment, which means that they will do nothing to change their habits. Habits that in effect, harm the environment enouth to cause its destruction.
      It is ignorant to think that by simply living, we are not harming the environment.
      And it i
      • by englishknnigits (1568303) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:59PM (#43206059)
        Money is as much an information delivery system as anything else. It communicates to people what they have to give up in order to get something else. For example, if you apply a pollution tax (such as charge companies per ton of C02 produced) then you communicate to companies that producing C02 will harm their bottom line and it is worth it for them to spend money to reduce their pollution output. You aren't telling them how to do it or even mandating it, you are making reducing pollution in their own self interest. A pollution tax would also have the effect of increasing the costs of goods and services that produce pollution so consumers will choose to avoid products that create the most pollution or pay the price for it.

        I'm not arguing for any particular tax or system, I am pointing out that "rely[ing] on money" is actually a sure fire way to alter peoples behavior. Money is not all about greed, it is a useful and necessary tool.
    • The idea of "saving the earth" is a good one, but on the other hand, the earth will be fine long after humans inhabit it.

      Way to be totally human-centric. I know it's hard to believe, but there is other shit living on this planet besides humans.
    • by Silentknyght (1042778) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:41PM (#43205823)

      well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel! we cant use plain old light bulbs anymore, that use more power (and give off heat, thus meaning one could in theory keep their heater lower) and now we are stuck with CFLs that are worse for the environment than the old bulbs!

      You should have stopped before this sentence.

      Insofar as "cheap" "dirty" vs "expensive" "clean" environmentalism is concerned, the problem is that it is difficult to capture (i.e., within a product's price) the cost of all the externalities ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org] ). Therefore, we have "cheap" "dirty" fuels, which are actually more expensive than the clean fuels, but the costs of all of their negative externalities have not been included, and therefore only perceived as cheap by the average individual. For example, super-fine particulate matter (i.e., 2.5 microns in diameter), most commonly generated as a fuel combustion byproduct, is a serious contributor to adverse health effects and mortality rates; these health & life effects do translate into costs, though they aren't currently well-reflected in the prices of the products and/or energy choices you can select.

      Therefore, we raise the cost of these "dirty" energy sources through artificial means in an attempt to better account for the non-artificial (but hard to encapsulate) externalities.

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:41PM (#43205831)

      Keep your heater lower?
      Why in the hell would you want electric heat? That shit is expensive. I will stick with my LED lights and gas heater.

    • by catchblue22 (1004569) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:50PM (#43205925) Homepage

      Well DUH! Earth hour IS symbolic. So what. In doing this, we are reminding ourselves that the world will not end if we reduce our energy consumption. We remind ourselves of how wasteful our energy use is. It encourages people to make long term adjustments to their energy consumption habits. When I see posts themed "fuck Earth Week", I am reminded of a 10 year old boy having a temper tantrum and holding his breath. That or a paid poster. The simple fact is that an economy cannot thrive long if it is based on a culture of waste. It is deeply irrational to think that waste is a positive practice. Waste of energy. Waste of financial resources. Waste of labor resources. Waste of physical resources. Wasting scarce resources makes us all poorer in the end.

      • It is deeply irrational to think that waste is a positive practice.

        You mean like the complete waste that is Earth Hour?

      • by dywolf (2673597) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:09PM (#43206179)

        So why just do it symbolicly? Why not do it all the time?

        that right there is the self-contained hypocrisy of the entire notion of hte symbolic hour of non-use.

        You only want to do the symbolic gesture, cause you dont actually want to give up your A/C, your furnace, your comfortable house outside the city the requires a commute, your high tech toys.

        In order words, you dont REALLY care.
        You just want to feel good for a minute or two, tell yourself you're not such a bad person, tell yourself "i can quit if i want to"...

    • While I agree with your sentiments, there are a few ways to read your example on green energy which may be incorrect.

      First, all things being equal, cheaper is better... for consumers, for the environment, for everyone. Lower price means less effect on materials resources (from the environment), labor (from people fed by the environment), and profits (which are subject to a money multiplier effect and are then poured into other projects which can have more effect on the environment).

      The trouble is, "all thin

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      You're absolute right. So how about instead we just stop artificially lowering the cost of fossil fuels via subsidies and exemptions from environmental protection laws. Then green energy can actually compete on it's merits rather than being at an artificial disadvantage. Solar for example is already becoming competitive with coal in some areas of the US like the southwest that have good solar exposure - a solar installation can pay for itself in 5-10 years, and with proper maintenance you'll potentially

    • "green" energy is too expensive to compete with proven yet "dirty" tech? well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel!

      Wrong [reuters.com]. In some places, unsubsized solar is already cheaper than coal. And fossil fuels are already heavily subsidized [priceofoil.org]. Why is the parent marked insightful?!

    • by fermion (181285)
      The problem with most fiscal conservatives idea is exactly this. We can't raise taxes because it won't generate enough money to matter. We can't cut the military because it will cost more money than it will save. Congress can't cut it's pay because no one can live on less than $200,000 a year.

      It is all hopeless and we should just sit back and wait for a miracle.

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhxBlue (562201) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:14PM (#43205417) Homepage Journal
    I thought Earth Hour was about reducing light pollution?
  • by Kjella (173770) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:14PM (#43205423) Homepage

    It's environmentalism theater, just like we have security theater. If I turn out the lights for an hour I can say I've done "my part" to help the environment and raise awareness then go back to ignoring it the rest of the year.

  • by arcite (661011) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:16PM (#43205439)
    The point of Earth Hour is public awareness, to get people talking, thinking, discussing solutions. To experience one solitary hour without electricity exposes westerners to the daily hardship that billions around the world face due to lack of electricity. I'm here in Egypt, they currently have a 20% electricity generation deficit. This means that even though I may live in one of the best neighborhoods in Cairo, I experience low-shedding 1 hour every second day. My Earth Hour is every second day! So, can the hipster who doesn't have a clue who submitted this story, pull his head out of his self-important ass? You're either part of the problem, or part of the solution. Bitching about awareness of the inequality in the world as being a waste of time is being part of the problem.
    • by ryzvonusef (1151717) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:32PM (#43205685) Journal

      I experience low-shedding 1 hour every second day.

      So you get electricity 47 hours out of 48? That too in a country that is chaotic and just underwent a revolution?

      Then I in Pakistan can only envy you, we have load-shedding of 6 hrs minimum daily, often more for random reasons. And this is in spring, with no fans or other cooling equipment running... In summer it easily becomes ~14 hrs or more daily.

      We just had our first democratically (for a certain value of democracy) elected govt to actually complete their term. So much for democracy...

      • We just had our first democratically (for a certain value of democracy) elected govt to actually complete their term. So much for democracy...

        I have friends in Pakistan (Lahore). The problems you guys have got are going to take way more than one term of government. Look at the US, it took us nearly a century of democracy to officially end slavery, and well over a century later we still suffer plenty oif after-effects. Change comes slow. Simply making it to a second consecutive term of democracy is a pretty big acheivement, there are lots of countries that let their first democraticly elected government turn into just another despot. (Crossin

        • by ganjadude (952775)
          what after affects of slavery do we still face today, I am honestly curious on that because I dont know anyone who was a slave or whos father/mother was a slave
          • by jittles (1613415)
            From what I understand, there are small towns near Lafayette, LA where they have two Mardi Gras parades every year; one for white people, and one for "people of color." I haven't seen with my own eyes, but I have heard from people who grew up in the area and lived there within the last 5 years.
    • The point of Earth Hour is

      ...to make people feel good. Because if you make people *feel* like they're helping to solve the problem, it doesn't matter at all that they're actually making it worse! Once you understand this, many Green policies start to make considerably more sense.

  • by psydeshow (154300) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:16PM (#43205441) Homepage

    If it was truly pointless and wasteful, as an American I'm pretty sure I would have heard of it before now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes, Earth Hour does nothing in itself; I thought this was something that pretty well understood and didn't require *another* article written about it. The point of Earth Hour, however, is to build awareness of living in -- and contributing to -- a changing climate. That said, the feel good factor itself might be detrimental as people will feel that they have done their duty for the year. But this is currently, as far as I am aware, unsubstantiated and probably warrants actual research.

  • by Murdoch5 (1563847) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:21PM (#43205515)
    So how about we listen to this post and just stop caring at all. If turning your lights off wont help then why even try, lets turn everything on full blast and leave it on.
  • Us feeling better, the environment doesn't actually better. But being able to say you did something for 1 hour out of almost 9 thousand in a year, somehow makes people feel like they're taking strides towards saving the environment... Or maybe it's the symbolism involved.

  • a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"

    So the drop in energy demand won't reduce the amount of electricity pumped into the grid, but after the hour is over, there will be enough extra demand to require new coal plants to be brought online even though they were still producing the same amount of power as before?

    Sounds kind of like the logic my power company uses to explain high costs "The high demand for electricity means we need more money to build power plants and our increasing costs mean we need to charge more for electricity. The large numbe

    • Let's run that in reverse. A small increase in energy usage, like my one, 100 watt, bulb, won't increase the amount of energy pumped into the grid, so I shouldn't have to pay for it. (It's only 100 watts)

      Let's get everyone to do that! Free energy!! Perpetual Motion!!!
    • by cervesaebraciator (2352888) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:42PM (#43205847)

      Yeah, I had to read that part twice because I had the same thought. What the writer seems to mean is that there won't in fact be drop in energy significant enough to step down power production and thereby save CO2. The "moreover" introduces a hypothetical possibility: i.e. even if power consumption decreased enough to step down power production, the energy wasted in stepping production down and up would outweigh the overall savings in consumption. This makes a sort of sense, but I saw no numbers in TFA to back it up, so I'll remain skeptical.

      The fact that the author indulges in one non sequitur after another (why is he talking about the benefits of electricity? who's denying them? I thought the point was that our means of generating it has some drawbacks. Who's lighting candles?), often without offering evidence, leaves me even colder. The basic notion that shutting off electric lights for an hour is about making us feel good I can agree with. But I think this guy is just trolling. Maybe it makes him feel better about himself.

  • by Anonymous Codger (96717) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:25PM (#43205583)

    First, I can't believe anyone takes Lomborg seriously anymore. His rantings are not based on science, and the only reason anyone noticed him in the first place was because he styled himself an "environmentalist", which he clearly isn't. Second, as other posters have pointed out, Earth Hour isn't meant to actually save any energy, it's to build public awareness. He's erected a strawman and is trying to knock it down without regard to what is real.

    • So are you saying his numbers are right? Because if they are, then you have your answer as to why people listen to him.

      Secondly, are there really many topics that have less public awareness than saving the environment? I know I sure had it drilled into my brain since I was a kid with all kinds of training. I'm not sure you can do anything to raise more public awareness by this point.
      • Where did I say his numbers are right? I have no idea if they are right or not because I don't have time to go research it, and I didn't express an opinion either way (although given the source, I have my doubts). Even if his numbers in this narrow case are correct, I don't think they're relevant to the real intention behind Earth Hour.

        And as to not doing anything more to raise public awareness, I think it's valuable to do so because people are subjected to a constant torrent of advertising telling them how

  • by onyxruby (118189) <{onyxruby} {at} {comcast.net}> on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:29PM (#43205641)

    Crap like this is feel good meaningless junk science that does absolutely nothing to solve anything. This is no better than saying were going to boycott the gas stations on Sunday (and fill up on Monday). People need to get real about the environment and as long as we've got crap like this and lunatics at places like greenpeace getting the headlines were going to continue shooting ourselves in the foot. We don't need the Haliburton's of the world do the damage when we keep deluding ourselves by pulling crap like this.

  • The Real Benefit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mellow106 (669136) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:33PM (#43205689)
    Forget CO2 levels. This is a helpful excuse to rendezvous with your lady/fellow and figure out *some* way to amuse yourselves for an hour in the dark. "Hey, it's for the good of the planet. Or whatever."
  • Worse than that! (Score:3, Informative)

    by DarthVain (724186) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:41PM (#43205829)

    Even if you did shut off things of significance, it would not make a big difference.

    Anyone that understands how the power grid is run and electricity distributed, and power generation is applied could tell you that.

    1) The grid itself needs a certain amount of electrification simply to remain stable and on.
    2) Because power use is not constant, and various types of generation mix is different, you will have to maintain a baseline of power anyway. That nuclear plant that generates 4GW doesn't just turn off because the need no longer exists. It generates 4GW all day/night all the time regardless. One of the benefits of nuclear.

    It would prevent say the usage of say quick spin up generation such as gas or coal to meet specific needs during peek generation. Or the use of potential storage like hydro during peek hours. But again, turning off the lights won't make much difference there either. If everyone turned off the AC during a heatwave, during peek usage, yeah that might make a small difference.

    Anyway as pointed out, it is simply a PR campaign and an awareness thing. Anyone who believes they are actually doing something significant should be looked at with an arched eyebrow.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Monday March 18, 2013 @02:47PM (#43205895) Homepage Journal

    My area was hit by Hurricane Sandy in November and my electricity was out for a week! I think I've given my hour for quite a few years!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I looked into it a few years ago after staying at an "earth friendly" surf resort that didn't have elctrical power in Nicaragua. They gave everyone two candles a night and insisted it was eco-friendly.

    The amount of soot, CO^2 and other bad stuff from a single candle is worse for the environment, not to mention your health, than running a 60W light bulb off electricity generated at a coal power plant in the USA. In all likelyhood a coal plant in Nicaragua is worse than the USA but I thought it was interesti

  • A popular "green" ritual is just an act of empty symbolism designed to make people feel morally superior while actually doing nothing and causing no real inconvenience? No! I refuse to accept that!

  • If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759?

    The stupidity of the question aside, why are you implying that we all have our lights on 365/24/7?

  • A/C and heat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:19PM (#43206297) Homepage Journal

    Turning off air conditioning or heat for one hour will accomplish absolutely nothing. As soon as it is turned back on it still has to move or generate all the heat energy over that hour it would have otherwise. Simply put, it will have to work a little harder to catch up what it would have been doing over that hour anyway. Same with hot water heaters, dehumidifiers, refrigerators, etc. Merely putting off washing clothes, cooking, etc obviously accomplishes nothing either.

    • Re:A/C and heat (Score:5, Informative)

      by fredrated (639554) on Monday March 18, 2013 @03:40PM (#43206507) Journal

      Simply put, it will have to work a little harder to catch up what it would have been doing over that hour anyway

      Actually, you are quite wrong.
      Think of it this way: the only heat (in the heating case) you have to replace is the heat lost through the walls and ceiling. If the heat in a room is kept at K degrees then you replace the heat that is lost at a constant K temperature. On the other hand, if you turn off the heat for a while then the rate of heat loss goes down as the room cools, and the total heat loss, the amount you must replace, is less.

  • by Chas (5144) on Monday March 18, 2013 @08:17PM (#43209333) Homepage Journal

    Don't buy gas on such and such a day! It'll send a message! (Yeah, that people think this sort of thing helps are dumbasses who don't understand that a one day cessation of demand, even on a worldwide scale, is pointless. As people simply buy the next day or stock up in the preceding days.)

    Don't use electricity for an hour! *Snore* Basically it's a load test for your grid. And an expensive one too. Nothing more.

    I've got one!

    All you people who want to send a REAL message!
    If you're SERIOUS about this. Do the following.
    Don't breed. EVER.

    If you can't do that, try the following.
    Don't breath for an hour. You'll be doing the world a favor.

    If that's still too much to ask, here's something more fun.
    Go skydiving and experience freefall for 30 consecutive minutes.

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