Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Earth Hour? What a concept!

02.03.2010 19:53

I recently caught on that my hometown is going to participate in the Earth Hour event, which this year lands on March 27.

Now, I’m all for changing the global climate and protecting the environment and all that. I just don’t think that shutting down non-essential lights and appliances for an hour a year (on a Saturday evening, no less) will do the trick.

We have come to a point in our technological advancement where electricity is a requirement. When we lost power in Ålesund and the surrounding area for an hour last week (mid-day on a Tuesday), our society more or less halted. You need electricity to register bar codes, fry/heat/cook food in cafes/restaurants/fast-food joints, pay with a debit or credit card, pay with cash where things like CashGuard are used, cool things down in fridges and freezers, work at an office (where computers are essential), etc. Basically, while not intended, we’ve already had our Earth Hour.

I see less of a point of the focus on an event like Earth Hour in Norway, where the vast majority of our power production comes from renewable energy. Living in a country full of mountains and subsequent waterfalls does have its benefits.

Also, we export more power than we import, so I don’t really see the point in the power companies’ major need to export power as much as they do.

Basically, with the amount of renewable energy produced in Norway, I simply don’t see the big need to “celebrate” an event like this.

So why do we do it? “Raise awareness?” What good will that actually do? It seems to me that the only countries participating are either already fully aware of the world’s energy and climate problems, or not big enough to make a significant impact in either direction.

We don’t need to cut back on energy consumption, we just need to find more efficient methods of both producing and consuming the energy, and that should be more up to the companies who make the energy production and energy consuming products. Although it’s more or less up to us consumers to select the right products, the companies making the products should be forward enough to do the necessary changes without having to wait on consumers and/or local regulations. And in particular when it comes to energy production, we also need the methods to be environmentally friendly.

To sum up just a couple of the not-so-environmentally-friendly energy production methods:

Fossil fuels: Coal, oil, the burning of wood, stuff like that. Sure, they produce the energy needed, but they icky stuff behind, both in the air and where they actually burn. That dark smoke is not a good thing, you know. Forests are replanted all the time, but unless you can dispose of both the ash and smoke somewhere other than Mother Nature, just skip it. Burning of wood in a fireplace should be saved for the rare occasions.

Fission: Or, in three words: Nuclear power plants. Sure, there’s a high yield compared to any other energy production, but there are also higher risks. Last I heard, nuclear waste still can’t be broken down easily; all they can do is store it in a safe place for a few thousand years in containers built especially for that purpose. Also, if the careful balance of keeping a nuclear reactor online is askew just enough, there are serious consequences, much like dropping a nuclear bomb in the area. Worst case scenario: think Chernobyl.

When it comes to the awareness bit, most of us are already well aware. What we need is for manufacturers to keep up, and preferrably in a quicker speed than now.

After all, if awareness with the consumer is so important to the environment, why aren’t the airlines pushing the manufacturers for more energy efficient airplanes? Instead, they choose to only focus on “reducing your carbon footprint” and buying carbon offsets.

And there’s another less-thought-out plan. Buying carbon offsets is really just marketspeak for paying a country to use some of their carbon emission quota which they weren’t going to use in the first place, and seems to be merely a the modern form of indulgence.

I’m just saying.