NZ electricity usage for Earth Hour

power_load-2Whale Oil has obtained the New Zealand power usage data for the Earth Hour Saturday and the previous Saturday (LW in the graph).

There is very little difference between the two Saturdays, but there was slightly MORE electricity used during Earth Hour than the same hour the previous week.

Good to see most people weren’t taken in by this nonsense.

See also:
Earth Hour increases electricity usage (Sydney).

Plastic bag tax

National’s resident greenie, Dr Nick Smith, is considering a tax on plastic bags because, in his personal opinion, “New Zealanders were over-using plastic shopping bags”. We’ve lived in Ireland with such a tax, so here is a brief summary of the good and the bad:

The Good:

  • Reusable bags don’t break. They are much nicer to use than disposable ones.

The Bad:

  • You use disposable plastic bags for all sorts of things – lining rubbish bins for example. When you don’t get them from the supermarket you are forever running out of them, and have to buy plastic bin liners – defeating the environmental purpose of the tax.
  • Reusable bags are bulky.
  • You often forget to take enough reusable bags with you, and have to either buy more reusable bags or disposable ones. So in practice you waste money one way or another.
  • Most reusable bags are plastic. It must take a lot of resources to make one, so you would have to replace a large number of disposables with one reusable to make it worthwhile. In practice they only have a limited life before they get lost or have something disgusting spilt through them, so you don’t actually replace as many disposables as you would expect with each reusable bag. The environmental benefit is therefore questionable.
  • The main winners are the supermarkets. They sell more reusable bags (with their own logos on). They sell plastic bin liners as people aren’t recycling disposable plastic bags as bin liners. And in Dr Smith’s plan, they might even get the plastic bag levy itself. Expect the supermarkets to support this plan, but not for environmental reasons.

So I can only think of one advantage – reusable bags are strong and good to use. There is nothing to stop you using reusable bags now for this reason, and many people already do (for example MacDoctor).

It is highly debatable whether there is any environmental benefit from this whatsoever. Plastic bags are a minute fraction of NZ’s waste (0.2% according to the Dominion Post), much of which will currently be recycled supermarket bags containing rubbish. Most of these will be replaced by new plastic bin liners if this law goes through – in other words, there will be less recycling, and plastic bags will still be about the same amount of NZ’s waste, just more expensive.

Fortunately we have a far more sensible Prime Minister:

Mr Key said there was no way he was going to support a charge that was in effect a tax going into the coffers of supermarkets. “My preference is to find a voluntary and industry-led solution,” he said.”I’ve made that very clear to the minister.”

Asked whether he would preferred to have known in advance about both issues, he replied: “I think it would be more useful if I found out about things before I read about them in the newspaper.”

Good on you Mr Key!

Other comments around the blogs:
MacDoctor: Fantastic Plastic
Madeleine: Blue is the New Green: National’s Bag Tax
Homepaddock: Bin that idea, Nick
Not PC: Nanny Nick taxes bags
Whale Oil: More on Bags

Earth hour increases electricity usage

earthhourscamek1Andrew Landeryou presents this graph of Sydney’s power demand on three Saturdays, the final one being Earth Hour. This past Saturday there was a large spike in usage BEFORE Earth Hour, presumably as people put forward the things they were intending to use electricity for so they could “save” power during Earth Hour.

There is some criticism of the figures on his blog, so the graph isn’t definitive. But it certainly gets you thinking…

Hat tip: Not PC

The Herald calls for photos of Earth Hour

Yes, that’s right! Not only can you get your eco-friendly electricity photos from Earth Hour published on the Anti Earth Hour blog, you may be able to get them into the Herald! They require a comment with every photo…

I’ve submitted the photo of our house, with the following message:

We thought long and hard about the most environmentally friendly way to light our house for earth hour. Candles were out of the question, the carbon emissions are too high (most are made from parrafin wax, derived from oil) and they produce polluting smoke that I wouldn’t want my young son to be breathing. We’ve been lectured for years now about the dangers of second-hand smoke. Torches were just as bad, as disposable batteries are toxic and use a large amount of energy to produce, having higher CO2 emissions than mains electricity.

Furthermore both candles and batteries are mainly made in China these days, and the emissions from transport must also be taken into account. Candles are also a fire hazard, and because of their inefficiency are far more expensive than electricity.

So we finally settled on NZ-made renewable hydro-electricity as the lowest-emission, most eco-friendly way to light our house.

Update: The photo is on the Herald website, along with another dissenting one by Dave Mann.

Family First wants more regulation – again

I generally agree with Family First on most issues. But Bob McCoskrie does seem to like regulation too much sometimes in my mind. After calling for more bureaucratic hoops to jump through before you can put up a billboard, he is now criticising the Government’s plan to allow workers to choose whether to have their fourth week of annual leave or get a cash bonus instead.

Family First’s press release states:

Family First NZ says that cash payment provisions on the 4 week of annual leave proposed by the government will harm family time as the temptation to have immediate cash will be too great to resist for some families.

Sounds reasonable, but what does he actually identify as the real problem:

“Poll after poll has shown that both parents and children want to spend more time together doing family things like picnics and holidays together. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as the retail industry is required to work almost every day of the year, and other industries expand to six and even seven days per week.” …

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report, New Zealanders work longer than any other nationality, apart from the Japanese. 21% of NZ workers work more than 50 hours a week. In most EU countries the number of people working 50 hours or more per work remains well under 10%. Just over 1% workers in the Netherlands work longer hours, while only 6% in Greece and Ireland do so. In Australian and American the rate is 20%.

If the big problem is number of days worked per week, and hours per day, how do statutory holidays affect this?

If you assume the same amount of work still has to be done, people will just have to work harder every other week, so will have less time to spend with their children for most of the year. Frankly, I’d prefer having a few extra hours with my son each week than getting one extra week’s holiday to try and make up for the time I missed with him during the year.

But that should be my own choice. This is a non-issue.

There are very important things that Family First does point out – this week in their email (which you can sign up for here) we have the smacking issue reigniting, informed choice on vaccinations, the EU banning the use of “Miss” and “Mrs”, and other interesting stuff. Family First is a great lobby group, if you aren’t signed up for their emails yet do it today.

I just sometimes wish they’d pick their battles more carefully.

Our house on Earth Hour

house_earthhourThat’s around 2000 watts of eco-friendly renewable hydro-electricity. So much better for the environment than the smoky candles the greenies are using tonight.

To see what others have been up to, check out the Anti Earth Hour blog.

Earth Hour

Earth hour is upon us. So this blog is switching on the lights. Thanks to Thomas Edison, we can light our homes without damaging our lungs, and while protecting the atmosphere from the gases burning candles emit.lightbulbFor more info on what you can do to celebrate Earth Hour (Edison Hour), click here.

Anti Earth Hour blog

Before deciding how to celebrate Earth Hour tonight, check out the Anti Earth Hour blog. Turn on your lights (they’re more eco-friendly than candles), and submit your power-hungry pictures of what you did on Earth Hour!

Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

What should you do this earth hour? You can’t watch TV, or read this blog, that would use electricity. You can’t work on the car by candlelight, you might cause a nasty explosion. So here are a few suggestions:

Don’t go to a concert. There is an “Earth Hour Unplugged” concert in Christchurch, there are probably other events on elsewhere. But to get there you’d probably use a car, or a bus. That one trip could melt a glacier. And they’ll probably have big amplifiers using thousands of watts of coal-fired electricity. And as you switched off the burglar alarm to save electricity, and everyone’s lights are off so criminals can easily work undetected. you may get home and find your furniture has disappeared.

Only go to a concert if your sole purpose is to switch off the amplifiers for the sake of the planet so everyone can sit in perfect silence straining their ears to hear the peaceful twanging of the electric guitar strings. Otherwise stay at home.

But what to do at home? You can’t read a book, or play a board game, you’d need to light candles for that, and that could cause immense ecological destruction. You could play “blind mans bluff” in the dark, but may trip over and break all the furniture you stayed home to protect. Or break an arm, requiring the consumption of toxic petrol to take you to the hospital.

No, you’ll just have to go to bed early. But DON’T be tempted to curl up under the covers in your cold unheated bedroom and snuggle with the wife. Population growth will destroy the planet. Keep your hand-knitted hemp underpants on.

To be safe, one of you had better sleep on the couch.

Lie in the cold, dark lounge, on the couch, listening to the hum of the fridge (which you should have left turned on) and contemplate that:

“Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the United Nations Environment Programme. (via Micky’s Muses)

Get used to sleeping in the cold and the dark, it sounds like this won’t be the first night. And then one day, as you cough yourself to death from smoke inhalation (candles), hypothermia and botulism (you did turn the fridge off after all, didn’t you?), at the age of 40, with no children to remember your name, you may feel glad that at least by your sacrifice you may have saved the life of a snail, somewhere. Possibly.

See also:
Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting
Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances

Earth hour will kill us all! 2 – Appliances

Despite the terrible hazards to the global environment of using candles this Saturday, no doubt some people will still choose to use them. If you still use candles, at least don’t switch off your fridge.

Your refridgerator, freezer, thermostat-controlled heater, or heat pump are designed to turn themselves on and off as they need to, to maintain a certain temperature. If you turn these appliances off during Earth Hour, they will consume no power then. But the freezer will slowly heat up over that hour, and your house will slowly cool down. When you switch them on after the hour they will all switch on at once and have to work extra hard to make up for the hour they were not able to run for. Total electricity consumption will be about the same, except it will all come in a peak when they are all turned back on.

The same goes for appliances with batteries (cellphones, laptop computers etc). They too will use more power after earth hour if you just switch the charger off at the wall for that hour.

You may choose not to use your washing machine during earth hour. But you still have the same amount of clothes to wash. Unless you do them by hand, you’ll just use more power after Earth Hour.

What does this mean for the electricity network? There will be a drop in power usage from 8:30 – 9:30pm on Saturday night. Then a peak afterwards when everything is switched on again. About the same amount of electricity will be used all up, unless the peak load blows another Auckland transformer.

But although much of NZ’s electricity generation is renewable, the peak loads are serviced by dirty polluting coal and gas (owned by thieving rich capitalists no doubt). So your freezer will be killing the polar bears as it refreezes all your thawed vegan tofu-burgers.

To quote the Lorax:

“I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues, and I’m asking you Sir, at the top of my lungs” – What are YOU doing this Earth Hour?

I implore you, on behalf of the trees, the bar-ba-loots, the swomee-swans, the humming-fish, the polar bears, and the thousands of cute and cuddly animals as yet undiscovered that we could be killing in ways we cannot yet imagine – do NOT turn your refridgerator off (or use candles) this Earth Hour.

See also:
Earth hour will kill us all! 1 – Lighting
Earth hour will kill us all! 3 – Entertainment

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