29 March 2009

Earth Hour Went Off OK, Then Back On

During Earth Hour many cities, public buildings, companies and individuals turned off some lights, and maybe other electrical devices, for one hour. Then they turned them back on again. Here is how the Wellington, N.Z. railway station looked during Earth Hour:

Nice and dark. I presume the trains continued to run. But then, New Zealand is well-supplied with hydroelectric power, so perhaps they didn't really save any carbon to speak of. (A quick check of N.Z. stats shows that about 70% of its electricity is generated from renewable resources, geothermal, hydro, biomass, wind, etc.)

Here is what Wellington Station looks like the other 364 nights of the year:

What is wrong with this picture? I don't mean Wellington Station, I mean everywhere. Public buildings, monuments, corporate headquarters, even the pyramids of Giza are lit up extravagantly, and just for decoration. Not for safety, or for any useful purpose. Why does this go on, even as it goes off for an hour once a year? And who is paying (directly) for all that electricity? We know we are all paying indirectly for the carbon emitted in producing it.

Maybe New Zealand could cut its electricity use by 30% and then it wouldn't have to use any fossil fuels for electricity production. Why not?

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