Earth Hour is an international event that asks households and businesses to turn off their lights and non-essential electrical appliances for one hour on the evening of 29 March at 8 pm local time until 9 pm to promote electricity conservation and thus lower carbon emissions.
I’ve written about this already, and I don’t think there’s much else to be said. If you’re participating in Earth Hour, that’s great, I’m glad you have an interest in making the world a better place to live.
But next time you feel the need to be green, pick an activity that will actually make a difference. Replace your lights with energy efficient ones. Turn the thermostat down in the winter. Buy a fuel efficient car, or better yet, switch to transit. Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
You don’t lose weight by going on a diet for an hour, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll make the Earth more green by turning the lights out for an hour.
Have you heard of Earth Hour? Sharon sent me a link for it today, pointing out that the City of Edmonton is participating in the “global movement” that aims to “take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced”. Cities around the world are pledging to turn off the lights for one hour on March 29th. From the about page:
On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney’s energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year.
With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.
Reminds me a little of Live Earth. Remember that event? The worldwide concerts that did so much for the “climate in crisis”? Yeah, I remember that.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with this event bullshit.
- Can we really say the current warming trend is “the greatest threat” the Earth has ever faced? What about the ice ages of the past? Or periods of space bombardment? Or World War II and nuclear weapons? I mean, come on.
- At best, these events come out neutral in terms of net energy consumption/reduction. More than likely, they probably have the opposite of their intended effect. Think of all the TVs and computers tuned to the Live Earth concerts last year. The same thing will happen with Earth Hour.
- Do these events really inspire change? I would argue that they actually make people complacent – “I don’t need to walk today, I participated in Earth Hour!”
Instead of turning the lights out for an hour, I’d rather see the City of Edmonton do something that would actually make a difference, such as replacing all our old street and traffic lights with new, energy efficient ones.
Read: Earth Hour
Gas prices here in Edmonton are about $1.05 right now, and they were $1.18 in Vancouver on the weekend. Most people generally expect the prices to keep going up, perhaps quite dramatically in the near future. What would you do if you were an extremely profitable oil company faced with that reality?
If you guessed “burn excess gas and pollute the environment”, you’d be right!
That bright orange spot is from the flames atop one of the “flares” as they are called (I think) at a refinery near Edmonton. I believe most refineries will tell you that burning off excess gas is a common practice, though the flames I saw tonight were unusually large. They were burning at 6:30 PM when I drove by heading north, and they were still going at around 9:45 PM when I took these.
These photos are from the Petro-Canada refinery on the southeast side of the city. According to the company’s website, the site processes 135,000 barrels of crude oil per day (switching this year to 135,000 barrels of oil sands feedstock per day).
Today is election day here in Edmonton. Today is also Blog Action Day. Better together? Let’s find out! It should be pretty clear that election day means we’re voting for our city mayor, councillors, and school board trustees, but what is Blog Action Day all about? From the website:
On October 15th, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind – the environment. Every blogger will post about the environment in their own way and relating to their own topic. Our aim is to get everyone talking towards a better future.
This is my entry for Blog Action Day, and as you may have guessed by now, I am going to talk about the election in relation to the environment. I just heard on the news that the turnout for this election is expected to be an abysmal 20%. Are people really not interested, or is it just too difficult to vote? Maybe a bit of both, but the process can certainly be made simpler. Not to mention more environmentally friendly or green.
There are two major problems with the way we vote now:
- So much paper is wasted. There are forms to organize the volunteers. There are forms to register you. The ballot you fill out. The second ballot you fill out because you screwed up on the first one. The documents with results. You get the idea. Voting today is really not an environmentally friendly thing to do. And don’t forget the campaigns either – thousands and thousands of flyers, posters, signs, etc.
- It’s too difficult. I worked from 9 to 5 today, and it took me until 6 PM to get back to the area of the city I live in to vote. So I didn’t have much time at all considering the polls close at 8 PM. Not only that, but once you get to the voting station you have to deal with three dinosaurs before you even get a ballot. Seriously, why do three individuals have to look at my drivers license in order to let me vote? Isn’t one person good enough? I’m not kidding about the dinosaurs part either. I was easily the youngest person in the room by about 35 years. It’s great that they are helping out, but they move slowly, have to squint at the fine print on the drivers license, and worst of all they look at me like they’ve never seen someone under 40 going to vote (and of course they must comment on that too). Just let me get in and get out!
It doesn’t have to be this way! We could make elections more environmentally friendly and efficient by getting rid of the archaic system we use now and adopting Internet voting. There are of course examples of successes with Internet voting and concern over potential problems that may arise. I won’t get into any of that here, but you can read the very complete Wikipedia entry if you’re interested. I simply look at it this way:
- Is the Internet good enough for Revenue Canada and the banks? Yes.
- Would voting over the Internet have a positive impact on the environment? Yes.
- Would voting over the Internet be faster and easier for voters than the current process? Yes.
Good enough for me. I think it’s time we moved one of our society’s most important institutions into the 21st century. I think it’s time we started voting over the Internet!
The winners of Imagine Cup 2007 were announced yesterday in South Korea. The winning team in the Software Design invitational was from Thailand. The team members are: Prachaya Phaisanwiphatpong, Vasan Chienmaneetaweesin, Jatupon Sukkasem, Pathompol Saeng-Uraiporn.
Yeah, I don’t know how to say their names either! Imagine Cup is truly an international event. Dickson and I participated a few times, winning in Canada the first year back in 2003. The competition is for students, so I can’t compete anymore, but I still like to read about it.
Next year’s event will take place in Paris, France, and the theme is hardly surprising. Yep, you guessed it, Imagine Cup is going to tackle the environment in 2008: “imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment.”
Actually, that’s probably a fairly difficult theme for software development. It’s easy to come up with ideas for healthcare or education related software, but much more difficult to build something that helps the environment. Here’s a decent article on the topic.
Congrats to all the 2007 winners!
Read: Imagine Cup
I wonder how long it will be until we all have green overload – I am guessing it’ll be sooner rather than later. These days, you’re simply not hip and with it unless you’re proclaiming how environmentally friendly you are. That goes for individuals, companies, and all other organizations too. Trying to cure cancer? Great – so long as you go about it in a “green” sort of way. Okay maybe it’s not quite that bad, but it’s getting darn close.
Did you know Discovery is launching an entire TV channel dedicated to the green movement? Apparently the New York Times had the story back in April, but I just came across it tonight while reading about Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest project:
DiCaprio is set to executive produce “Eco-Town,” a 13-part reality series which will follow state and local officials in their quest to build an ecologically – and economically – sustainable town in Kansas, aptly named Greenburg.
Yep, even famous movie stars need to add a shade of green to their images. No one is safe from the big bad green machine!
A television channel is one thing, but a niche blog is quite another. If the recently launched earth2tech blog doesn’t scream “go green or go home” nothing does:
Earth2Tech is a publication devoted to intersection between the tech industry, their eco-moves and the next generation of tech innovation that will combat climate change.
When will it end?
Here’s something you don’t hear every day – the federal government wants to help Alberta with it’s oil and gas industry! I think it’s great, as long as the funding is actually used appropriately. From the CBC article:
Ottawa will spend $155.9 million to make Alberta’s oil and energy industry more environmentally friendly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday.
The money will also support a project in Edmonton designed to convert municipal waste into electricity. Efforts to design a coal-fired electricity plant that releases almost no emissions will also be funded.
Already the announcement has been criticized by The Sierra Club, and I’m sure many more critics will follow. Harper has good timing though, as the Alberta government today “introduced legislation requiring about 100 high-polluting companies to reduce their emissions output starting July 1.”
Maybe this is the Canadian government’s way of saying, “yes, we value the oilsands as a strategic Canadian asset.”