OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Being a dick about Earth Hour

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  • dc_red,

    It was as if the essense of uselessness took corporeal form, put on a suit and became a lobbyist.

    A Lord Sauron for consumerist, pseudo-liberal times? Brilliant!

    Here in Canada there is some concern that the switch to CFL bulbs (mandatory from 2012 ... thanks to a Conservative Federal Government) may increase CO2 emissions ... at least in those areas with electricity produced through hydro.

    The idea being that the reduced heat output from bulbs (powered by hydro) will be replaced by increased central heating (powered by burning natural gas).

    Some explanation here.

    BC Hydro estimates the lighting regulations will increase annual GHG emissions in BC Hydro’s service territory by 45,000 tonnes due to cross-effects. That is, the replacement of inefficient lights with efficient lights that produce less waste heat will lead to increased fossil fuel use for non-electric space heating.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Ethan Tucker,

    Great stuff Keith. Am currently illuminated solely by the light of my laptop, so that's gotta count for something.

    But the pressing issue for me is: with all the refuseniks and disgruntleds out there using the 'nanny state' as shorthand for whatever it is they don't like about society, has anyone asked the nannies how they feel about their job title being co-opted into political discourse as a code for wanton interferers and busybodies? Maybe the nannies should band together and hire Crosby Textor to finesse their image, or maybe just shift the blame. Librarian state? Anyone?

    Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I actually liked 'Fuck Earth Hour' better as a title.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Instead, we put restrictions on telecommunication devices, and we don't whinge about it being the heavy hand of the nanny-state molesting us.

    Oh, it's way worse than that, Keith. We take instructions on what telecommunications devices to allow and what to restrict from an agency administered by the United Nations. I think that tells you all you need to know, comrade.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    The people advertising Earth Hour on my campus were handing out energy-effiicient lightbulbs, which is...better than nothing. I mean, that will cause an *actual* reduction in carbon emissions.

    My partner describes Earth Hour as a way to alleviate guilt, and he's so right. I wouldn't be surprised if it discourages people from doing something to actually reduce their emissions, because, hey, they participated in Earth Hour! They voted for the planet! That counts, right?

    That ad campaign is really, really dumb.

    Librarian state? Anyone?

    I'd be careful saying that. Danielle might hear you.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Hat-tip to The Standard for this:

    Keith's post has made me angry all over again about National's axis-of-stupidity attack on rational energy efficiency initiatives. One might hope that having won the election with the "OMG! the commie lightbulbs are coming!" message they'd settle down and do something more intelligent.

    But no.

    I should add that we have a houseful of CFL bulbs. Every time an old one went, my darling would replace it with a more efficient one. I generally didn't even notice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    Best. Post. Ever.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I'd be careful saying that. Danielle might hear you.

    Heh. Believe me, I hate some particularly, erm, *librarianish* librarians just as much as the rest of you. Probably more. I think calling it a 'librarian state' would be vastly more accurate than 'nanny'.

    (Example: nz-libs' debate about S92a actually included some tosser saying 'as an information professional, I am embarrassed by all the to-do over this issue'. O RLY?)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Best. Post. Ever.

    Oh yes, I forgot to say: this post wins a 'righteous!' award.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Um, Keith, aren't you out by a factor of 1000?

    60W x 3hrs x 365days = 65,700 watt hours = 66KWh ?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    However, you are right. Having a small number of middle-class, aware people in developed countries make a token gesture isn't going to change anything.

    Systematic energy saving measures will. So will building more wind/water poer and shutting down thermal. NZ could be on 120% renewable electricity (e.g. with zero non-renewable power and some fossil fuel replacement) by 2020. Unfortunately we're going backwards for at least the next three years.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Just to throw a little more information into the mix

    I worked at the Electricity Commission on the CFL project promoting and subsidising high quality bulbs, we got about six million out into peoples homes, saved a whole lot of $ and energy and sparked off some market development and competition in the lighting suppliers.

    CFLs are cheaper at producing power, through savings in replacing incandescant bulb usage, then building new power stations by a factor of about 7

    We were not in favour of a full ban on incandescant bulbs.

    We thought a market based solution with high quality products demonstrating benfits was better then forcing people into behavioural changes. We had some evidence from the UK that home owners were removing dedicated CFL fittings and putting standard light fittings in becasue they didn't like being forced into having dedicated CFLs.

    There are issues with power quality when you increase the penetration rates of CFLs (they are non linear loads that cause power factor issues and harmonic problems - which can mean extra problems elsewhere in the supply system and yoour appliances). The quality of the bulbs has a major impact, banning bulbs would allow a flood of the cheaper CFLs in that excacerbate these issues.

    The proposal to ban the incandescant bulb actually started in Australia when the previous environment minister (Howard Governement) recognised he had an election to win and started to make up policies without checking what the effects would be first. As the officials scrambled around to make good the ministers promise, it was recognised that under the CER agreements any ban in Australia would have impact in the NZ market too. So David Parker was pretty much forced to launch the idea here. When I left the EC the officials here were still trying to work through the details of how to not to ban the incandescant bulbs in stoves, fridges, halogens, heat lamps (both for people and animal raising) etc etc. Is not quite as simple as you might thing.

    Still fully agree with concept of putting in CFLs (I did go around putting them in my families homes), but they are not a panacea.

    @ dc_red - we did consider take back and heat replacement, still out weighted by the savings under the most pessimistic cases.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Hilarious post, possibly one of the best blog posts I've read in quite a while. Agree with Russell that it just makes you angry all over again though - insanity, absolute cave-man insanity.


    Also, Andrew - are there some kind of warranty periods on the squiggly bulbs? I thought part of the "sell" was their extended lifetime but I had one that can't be more than a few months old stop working the other day and come out with a slightly blackened base. Can I take that back for a replacement?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    are there some kind of warranty periods on the squiggly bulbs? I thought part of the "sell" was their extended lifetime but I had one that can't be more than a few months old stop working the other day and come out with a slightly blackened base. Can I take that back for a replacement?

    There was a 2 year warrenty deal on the bulbs subsidied by the EC, you may have more luck contacting the supplier then trying to get the replacement from your local supermarket if you don't have a reciept.
    Just don't stick an incandescant back in that socket, get a good CFL.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    I worked at the Electricity Commission on the CFL project promoting and subsidising high quality bulbs, we got about six million out into peoples homes, saved a whole lot of $ and energy and sparked off some market development and competition in the lighting suppliers.

    I think price is one of the biggest factors in resistance to CFLs. We've replaced all our bulbs with them, but it's taken a long time. Just making them remotely comparable in price to incandescents would help a lot in converting people to them. Yeah, I know they probably work out cheaper over the long period, but it's an example of the boots theory of economics.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Keith's post has made me angry all over again about National's axis-of-stupidity attack on rational energy efficiency initiatives. One might hope that having won the election with the "OMG! the commie lightbulbs are coming!" message they'd settle down and do something more intelligent.

    It sounds increasingly like the sort of stuff President Obama launched an intellectual nuke at, but with light bulbs instead of tyre pressures.

    Again, what if Obama, Gordon Brown et al were to make energy efficiency and carbon reduction conditions of a free trade agreement? Would it be the lobbyists who pushed for an FTA under Dubya who'd now be whingeing about Yankee paternalism?

    And what if a tourist does a Nicky Hager and writes an eco-exposé on NZ, regardless of the truth or not?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Just don't stick an incandescant back in that socket, get a good CFL.

    Oh yeah, definitely. We only buy CFL's now.
    Thanks, think it was Signature Range one so Foodtown are the supplier effectively.

    Isn't there some great little NZ company producing really good ones, bulbs that have a much higher "brightness output"?

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    We had some evidence from the UK that home owners were removing dedicated CFL fittings and putting standard light fittings in becasue they didn't like being forced into having dedicated CFLs.

    Ah yes. Garth George claimed in his Herald column to have been making plans to stockpile the old bulbs. You can't fight butt-headed stupidity, I guess ...

    The proposal to ban the incandescant bulb actually started in Australia ..

    Fascinating. I never knew that.

    So David Parker was pretty much forced to launch the idea here. When I left the EC the officials here were still trying to work through the details of how to not to ban the incandescant bulbs in stoves, fridges, halogens, heat lamps (both for people and animal raising) etc etc. Is not quite as simple as you might thing.

    Wasn't it phrased as a phase-out rather than a ban anyway? Having abandoned the scheme, Brownlee has gone notably quiet on providing the information that was supposed to let people decide for themselves.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    Isn't there some great little NZ company producing really good ones, bulbs that have a much higher "brightness output"?

    http://www.energymad.com/nz/
    Interestingly the two other people who worked with me at the EC are now working for Energymad selling these CFLs around the world...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward,

    Garth George claimed in his Herald column to have been making plans to stockpile the old bulbs.

    Wow Garth, elaborate plan. I'm going to stockpile the bulbs! There, plan done.

    Do I dare ask WHY he was going to? Scratch that, the less exposure I have to that bitter old thoughtprocess the healthier I'll be I imagine.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    We replaced the light fittings in our lounge from incandescents to CFLs. The CFL fittings looked nicer and apart from taking some time to "warm up" they produced a nice illuminations for the lounge.

    BUT

    We then had to repaint the whole lounge ceiling because the fittings were a little bit smaller and the paint that was previously hidden had not changed colour the way the rest had.

    I'm not sure the environmental cost of the new paint has been paid off yet :(.

    And then wierdly we have one fitting where the CFL keeps blowing out, average lifetime about 1 month. At the moment it is an empty socket which saves even more power but leaves me somewhat concerned about the quality of our wiring.

    Doing the right thing can get complicated.

    So how do you know it's a "good quality" CFL?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Stevens,

    I hate earth hour! It just feels so sanctimonious and smug. I think I'll go and turn on every light and apppliance while its on ;-)

    I was pissed off with the ban on incandesant bulbs, just because of the way it was done - I'd already swapped most of mine over, quite happily, but I didn't like having another ban imposed.This is one area where the market would have led people naturally to the better environmental choice.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 230 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    The big problem here was the politicization of the CFL. People just don't like being told what to do by a party that they don't like. However, I have to admit that I don't particularly like the light given off by CFL's but word has it that they will be available in different colours soon. As Andrew pointed out there are situations where only an incandescent bulb will do the job and to legislate for this would be a nightmare.
    Saving power is a good thing in terms of pollution and economics. Why this Government is determined to ignore this fact I am at a loss to explain but I suspect it is rooted in the odd belief that what is good for one (rich prick) is good for the nation. I suspect that the electricity generators and retailers want us to consume as much power as we can and abhor the idea of efficiency and as such have lobbied hard to remove the legislation around CFLs.
    I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I do not agree with the CO2 = Global Warming hypothesis. Studies have shown that, although there is a correlation between CO2 levels and Global Warming, a rise in CO2 follows a rise in temperature so CO2 cannot be the cause.
    But, Global warming is a big business in itself. Ask any academic looking for funding, If you want funding all you have to do is append the name of your study with the words "With regard to Global Warming" and you're home and hosed.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew Stevenson,

    So how do you know it's a "good quality" CFL?

    The ones supported by the EC have to meet very high standards, see CFL Programme

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 206 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    While I'm being a dick about this, I should also address the people who are opposing Earth Hour by joining "Edison Hour", which encourages participants to "use as much power and energy as possible in order to celebrate the advancement of mankind."

    Please, learn some fucking science.

    How about "Enron Hour"?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5429 posts Report Reply

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