Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ng on Earth Hour

Keith Ng has an excellent post up on this weekend's Earth Hour, pointing out that there are much better things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. The mathematics is inescapable:

Blacking out the entire house for one hour every year = 420g reduction per year.

Replacing one lightbulb with an energy saving equivalent = 9,950g reduction per year.

So, rather than turning the lights out, we should replace them (especially considering that that's 10kg per year for the lifetime of the bulb).

He has a point - Earth Hour is mostly a symbolic exercise. But the real benefit comes from getting people to think about energy efficiency, to do that maths (or get someone else to do it for them), and make those changes. And hopefully, as a result of the publicity, people will.

He also has an extended rant about the "debate" over banning incandescent lightbulbs (or rather, setting a minimum energy performance standard) during the election last year. I also am appalled by the stupidity of National's running against this. It's a classic case of market failure - the market can't pursue the obvious solution of more efficient lighting because the costs are not transparent. Regulation is perfectly justified in such circumstances, even within the free market paradigm. But this was more a case of National seizing on something to whip up hate and demonstrate its anti-environment cred than any rational policy making. Unfortunately, thanks to their stupidity, we all get to suffer. Thanks, National!