The SMH claims electricity consumption dropped 10.2% during Earth Hour, but Crikey reckons it’s just “mass hysteria” — in a subscriber-only story which I’ll now summarise for you.
Michael Pascoe writes:
Contrary to the media claims, no CO2 was saved, no lump of coal received a stay of incineration. Indeed, it’s not hard to argue that more CO2 was produced by the circus as thousands of Sydneysiders drove to the harbour to watch, well, not much. And then there were all those burning candles and kero lamps…
Most electricity comes from “base load generators”, big coal-burning beasts that can’t exactly be turned on or off quickly. On a typical Saturday night, NSW uses 8500 megawatts (MW). There was a dip of 150MW during Earth Hour, but that’s 1.7%.
Lighting is one of the least of electricity’s major worries. The cool rooms kept operating on Saturday night, the electric trains kept running, the aluminium smelters kept smelting and so on.
Personally, I think Pascoe’s being too negative. Sure, the SMH gilded the lily — hey, it was their event! But if we trimmed 1.7% off our electricity consumption just through one newspaper and a bit of community interest, shouldn’t we celebrate it as a great start? A few more 1.7% cuts and we’re well on the way.
Or does Pascoe just have sour grapes because it wasn’t one of his media outlets behind it?
Either way, he makes my Thoughts on Earth Hour look positively… positive!