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.

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