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Demonstrate Energy Conservation Matters

By Acapnotic in News
Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 05:12:46 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

Certain executive government officials of power-guzzling nations seem to think that we must pour our efforts into building new power plants to see us through the current "energy crisis". Show that you believe conservation matters, and that you're willing to do your part, by participating in Rolling your Own Blackout, this summer solstice (Thursday, June 21) from 7 to 10 PM in your time zone.

You may have seen one of the e-mails that's been circulating, either from a conservationist in Seattle or someone preaching about a Sun God. Or maybe in your church's bulletin or newsletter. It was in my local newspaper this morning.

Participate in a demonstration that shows your willingness to conserve for the sake of global goodness by turning off everything you can on Thursday evening (the first day of summer) from 7 to 10 PM.

For more information, see RollYourOwnBlackout.com, which includes a list of links to supporting organizations. There's another site with a running blog of individuals stating why they will be participating.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


From 7 to 10 PM this Thursday, I will be
o out for a stroll, watching the stars come out 18%
o having a picnic dinner 1%
o putting on a rave with a floodlight and 20' speakers 37%
o ironing my underwear 0%
o watching TV 20%
o watching the TV while it's turned off 22%

Votes: 59
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Rolling your Own Blackout
o RollYourOw nBlackout.com
o links to supporting organizations
o why they will be participating
o Also by Acapnotic

Display: Sort:
Demonstrate Energy Conservation Matters | 82 comments (77 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
I can't turn the lights off (3.37 / 8) (#1)
by georgeha on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:22:54 PM EST

My four old daughter is afraid she'd get eaten by a grue.

It doesn't get dark untill 9. (2.66 / 3) (#2)
by KoanMastah on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:27:01 PM EST

and by then a 4 yearold should be asleep anyway. And if she's not, use a flashlight nightlight for her.

Yes it was a joke. But I think that this is something to take very seriously. No energy use. No cars. Nothing. For three hours. Make these fat cats wake up.

Remember, there is no race war, no religious war, no war of the sexes.

There is only them (the rich) and us.

And if you quote the jargon file at me I'll come right through this monitor upside your head.

[ Parent ]

She should be asleep at 8:30 (4.25 / 4) (#8)
by georgeha on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:43:24 PM EST

and I should be rich, 6'0", with the physique of a Greek God.

She doesn't wind down until it gets darker, lately. Solstice is almost here, though.

[ Parent ]

Greek God? (1.75 / 4) (#10)
by KoanMastah on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:51:19 PM EST

Ha Ha Ha. Mr. Ha.

I scoff at you. You can not lift this boulder. I will get you a lighter one.

And if you quote the jargon file at me I'll come right through this monitor upside your head.

[ Parent ]

LOL (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by John Miles on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:04:51 AM EST

There is only them (the rich) and us.

It's always hilarious to watch how quickly people like you change your ideology when somebody dies and you come into a few bucks.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.
[ Parent ]

fantasy (none / 0) (#77)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 12:47:44 PM EST

Or at least it would be hilarious, if you had ever seen it, which you haven't.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

stint grits
darts file
gratis ways to fit tins
dapper angle
ill apple
-Barbara Baracks

[ Parent ]

Either... (1.66 / 3) (#3)
by jd on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:29:20 PM EST

She's been reading UserFriendly again, or she's not found the can of Grue Repellent in Enchanter yet. (It's in the lake.)

[ Parent ]
User Friendly?!? (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by Refrag on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:38:37 PM EST

It's from fucking Zork!!!


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Illiad (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by fluffy grue on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 12:50:58 AM EST

But Illiad is such a frotzing comedic genius that he deserves credit for everything funny which was ever said in anything computer-related, because he does such a great job of repeating 30-year-old jokes as though he came up with them himself. Obviously he invented grues and, in the future, will travel back in time so that he can tell Jack Vance about his comedic idea, so that Vance can, in turn, write the "Dying Earth" fantasies which Dave Lebling can then integrate into Dungeon (which would later be split into the first three Zork games). Obviously, Illiad is truly responsible for their creation, and I wear the identity of Illiad's creation with pride.

Illiad also invented lightbulb jokes, Microsoft bashing, and poking fun at Mac-using marketroids. Obviously, we all owe everything to Illiad, for without Illiad there would be nothing funny to laugh at.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Sigh (2.00 / 1) (#59)
by jd on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:32:24 AM EST

Yes, it's from the Zork trilogy. AND the Enchanter trilogy. It's probably (though I didn't check) in Beyond Zork, Zork Zero, and many other fantasy-based Infocom games.

And the Grue repellent is STILL in the lake, in Sorcerer. You need it, too. You get stampeded by Grues, later.

(If you're going to argue over a game, you might as well -play- the entire series, first.)

[ Parent ]

Don't worry (3.75 / 8) (#21)
by fluffy grue on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:14:42 PM EST

Four-year-olds are too fatty, and I'm trying to watch my cholesterol.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

Damn. (3.00 / 4) (#36)
by iGrrrl on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:32:12 PM EST

Coffee out the nose again.

You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.
[ Parent ]

Yeah, right (3.69 / 13) (#4)
by trhurler on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:30:07 PM EST

This is like telling 8 year olds to hold bake sales to help pay off the national debt; it is a crock of shit. The fact is, all the conservation effort in the world, laudable though it is, is linear decrease in energy usage, and you can only squeeze so much(not much at all, as it happens, when expressed as a percentage.) On the other hand, new energy requirements, even if we tie conservation efforts to them immediately as they arise, crop up continuously. The only logical solution is increased power generation. Now, I wish we could get away from coal, and I think there are ways to do that, but this crap about conservation "solving" energy problems is nothing but uninformed drivel from people who want to have their Kate and Edith too. You don't see them volunteering to give up their conveniences, do you? Of course not - not for more than three hours on a one time basis, anyway!

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Calling all 8-year olds (4.00 / 4) (#11)
by leviathan on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:59:59 PM EST

I seriously doubt if anyone is expecting this rolling blackout to directly reduce any countries usage significantly. It's a demonstration, not a solution.
The fact is, all the conservation effort in the world, laudable though it is, is linear decrease in energy usage, and you can only squeeze so much(not much at all, as it happens, when expressed as a percentage.)

I'd like to disagree with this, but I can't really give any more sources than you did. I'd suggest that you haven't seen anything yet. In Europe many applicances have standard, easy to understand energy ratings. I certainly paid attention to these when buying a washing machine. If there's a market for efficient technology, efficient technology will be developed. All we've really seen to far is abstinence; practically an anathema to capitalism.

Perhaps that was your point. I certainly don't do much in the way of abstinence. I've replaced most of my light-bulbs with energy saving ones, but that's a technological solution. I run my washing on a lower temperature if they're not dirty, but it come out just as clean. I've always used public transport, but that's mainly through laziness. I see the technological solution as well as public education being the best route to conservation. I see any public action like this as a route to both solutions.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

US (4.00 / 6) (#14)
by trhurler on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:15:17 PM EST

Some major appliances have energy efficiency ratings in the US, for the very obvious reason that it is cheaper to run more efficient appliances. Most of the people buying them could give a rat's ass less about the environment, whether they admit that or not, but they certainly like to save money. I think that's the road to conservation in the US: point out the advantages. However, even then, the majority of US energy usage is commercial, and typically, companies are already trying to shave costs to the bone to make investors happy, so there's not a lot of fat to trim in most of them.

Believe me, in most things, I'd like more efficiency - but I don't think it is a long term alternative to increased power generation in a growing economy. I do think more environmentally reasonable power generation is needed, and I think we're well on our way to that, but if we pretend conservation and clever regulations can substitute for new plants, we're going to end up just like California, only without anyone to bail our asses out.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Squeezing Industry (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by leviathan on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:45:34 PM EST

Of course, I don't think anyone is expecting industry to save energy and save money at the same time; this is why pollution taxes exist. If it actively costs a company money to do nothing it will make sense for them to spend money in the short term to save money in the medium to long term (soley because of reduced emissions/environmental taxes).

Of course, this presents two problems in the US (America). For one they have a more recent memory of the tyrrany of taxation than most Europeans, and secondly industry seems to have closer ties to the American government, and they like to be taxed even less than the general public.

Of course, this is why unilateral agreements are the only likely solution. These taxes, and other measures, will make certain sectors of your economy less competitive, rather like missile reductions makes your offensive power less. No country can afford to go it alone and yet some research suggests that without concrete reductions by 2050 we could be in a situation far worse than anything seen in California.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

fat to trim (3.50 / 2) (#18)
by alprazolam on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:51:25 PM EST

i've worked for 2 of the largest companies in the u.s. and neither of them applied a single energy saving technique, assuming that they use fluorescent lights for the other cost reasons.

[ Parent ]
getting away from coal (none / 0) (#54)
by poltroon on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:05:33 AM EST

I vote for wind... But given the Bush engery plan, it looks like we'll be slurping up more coal, oil, gas and nukes, of course. Wouldn't want to make a bold move or anything.

[ Parent ]
Worth noting: (4.37 / 8) (#5)
by Spatula on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:38:29 PM EST

Homepower.com has tips and such on how to generate your own electricity, either via wind or the sun or other such manners. If anyone else can contribute other sites like this one, please do so.

I think, instead of making a small gesture such as the "Rolling Blackout", perhaps it would behoove us (by 'us', I mean those of us that are concerned about energy conservation) to encourage our friends and family to get solar panels or something of the sort, and lead by example. I can't afford panels or a wind generator at this time, but that doesn't stop me from trying to get others to do so if they can. That would be more logical than this proposed public action.
someday I'll find something to put here.

Exactly (2.50 / 4) (#9)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:49:41 PM EST

I've first found HomePower a couple years ago but I was living in an apartment. Now I have a house but buying the house and having a baby at the same time has left me...short on cash. But I'm saving up to buy a single "demo panel" to play around with.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Same situation here (4.50 / 2) (#15)
by Spatula on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:28:06 PM EST

Once I get more solvent, I'm purchasing parts to construct a wind generator. I'm only 1.5 miles from a lake that generates excellent wind velocity, and I calculate that I'll be able to lower the energy bill by ~35%. *That's* more logical than a feel-good actionless action.
someday I'll find something to put here.
[ Parent ]
Missing Poll Option (1.83 / 6) (#6)
by greyrat on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:39:56 PM EST

"Making wild passionate love to my SO -- with the lights on".
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

And of course... (2.25 / 4) (#13)
by RareHeintz on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:06:50 PM EST

This begs the further poll option: "Making rabid monkey-love to my SO, with the lights out (for a change)".

- B
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Misses the point (4.00 / 9) (#7)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 12:42:45 PM EST

How about raising power prices? People will cut back on their own.

But even that "solution" misses the fact that the problem has been misidentified. The trouble here is not "using a lot of energy is bad for the environment". The trouble is "our current methods of energy generation are bad for the environment". Solution: change those methods. Solar, wind, geothermal, power satellite, etc.

There are hurdles with each of these, some worse than others. There were also hurdles to creating coal-burning and nuclear plants but that didn't stop us. My suggestion: Instead of making a one-time, feel-good sacrifice, purchase a solar panel or invest in a research company or something.

Play 囲碁
Hmm... Alternative Power Plants (3.80 / 5) (#16)
by coryking on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:39:11 PM EST

I remember my Chem 100 class. My instructor bought up some points I didn't even consider about the 4 "alternative" generation methos you mention. Below is what I remember him saying, note that I'm only listing the bad parts of each since they never seem to get mentioned, there are many pro's as well:

Takes up a lot of land. It's currently very expensive (though I think heating up water to drive turbines is not quite as expensive).

From what my chem teacher told me, a good sized geothermal plant takes a LOT of fresh water. Something on the order of a medium sized lake.

Takes a lot of land. It's ugly to look at. Dependand on wind patterns, and hence works reliably in few places.

Power satellite
What happens when the "beam" misses it's target? Something other then the base station gets zapped with a very high energy microwave signal.

Tidal Plants
These mess with the ocean currents. That in turn messes with the climate.

The biggest problem with nukes is where to dispose the waste? A lot of NIMBYism goes on there, who wants to live next to a buch of radioactive goo? Also, the cooling towers release a lot of water vapor into the atmosphere. Water vapor is, like CO2, a greenhouse gas.

My .02 cents

[ Parent ]

Replies (4.40 / 5) (#19)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:54:28 PM EST

Solar takes up land: So does strip-mining for coal. Besides, solar uses less land as efficiency goes up. Currently we are at 10-15% practically with 20% in the lab.

Geothermal takes water: No, it doesn't. The "geo" stands for "earth". Granted it can be more efficient embedded in water (that is, smaller system provides more energy). But you can do it with a constant amount of refridgerant in a sealed system that is embedded solely in dirt/rock. And even a water system doesn't use the water up--it just uses the thermal energy therein.

Wind takes up land and is ugly: I agree. Regarding land, though (and this applies to solar too): We have a LOT land that we aren't/can't use. Deserts and so forth.

Power satellite missing target: Nothing happens. Two reasons. 1) If it doesn't receive the guide signal it shuts off and 2) even if it didn't the rays don't have to be all that intense. I haven't researched this deeply but think about it this way: send enough power down from the satellite to double the amount of sunlight in a given area. That won't destroy anything but it effectively doubles the "efficiency" of solar cells at that location which halves the land requirement.

Tidal plants messing with current: I don't know much about this, but I do know that tides and current are totally different things.

Nukes: You are right. Whatever the reality, people don't want them.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Hmm.. (3.66 / 3) (#26)
by coryking on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:29:09 PM EST

geothermal: that was my thinking too. Why can't they just use refigerant? Make it a big ass heat pump. It's probably more efficient then water. I guess I'm a little confused as to how geothermal works. The way I take it is that you drill some big ass hole deep into the earth an pump water through it. You take the heated water, and drive a turbine.

Wind: I wonder what impact interfering with the wind patterns might have? Of course, now I'm just being picky and anal :-)

Sat. Power: Duh.. why didn't I think of that.

tidal: guess I'm mixing that up with power plants based on currents. But from what I understand, they are the same deal - it's kind of like a submerged dam. You build a wall under the water, and the force of the moving water drives the turbine.

nukes: it's too bad too, I think nukes are the way to go. It's just an issue of what to do with the radio active left overs (which last for a LONG time).

[ Parent ]

solar (3.33 / 3) (#25)
by Refrag on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:28:46 PM EST

Everyone always says that solar takes up a lot of land. However, no one ever seems to mention that so do all of man's structures. What could be done with solar is to integrate solar arrays into existing and new structures. It wouldn't replace nuclear, coal, or gas but it would definately help limit further expansion of these plants.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

True (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by coryking on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:33:40 PM EST

I guess there are also two types of solar power: One is the kind where you heat up water, and use the steam to drive a turbine. I dont see this scaling to buildings/houses, unless you use the heated water for heat not generating electricty.

The other is using photovoltaic arrays, which product power using silicone (or something to that nature). From what I understand, the latter is very expensive. Once the cost goes down, this is a total possiblity though.

[ Parent ]

right (4.00 / 2) (#30)
by Refrag on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:43:54 PM EST

Yes, I was talking about the photovoltaic arrays. That is why I used the term arrays. :) I understand that it is expensive on the front end, but I'm sure it'll pay for itself. And there is only one way to drive the price down; that is to drive production up.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

PV *can* pay for itself (4.50 / 2) (#31)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:02:45 PM EST

You have to do the calculations for your area (amount of sun/day, kwh/m^2, local kwh rate, etc). I found that, with current tech and at current rates, I could have a paid-off system in 20-25 years. This is only going to get better as tech improves and rates increase...

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
True, but one problem. (4.83 / 6) (#44)
by fink on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 06:28:59 PM EST

Quick background: I've been doing work on this for a local power company which are trying to specialise in renewable energy sources (hydro, wind, solar, biomass). In particular, I've been working on a couple of PV projects, mainly to get high school students interested (okay, it's a good marketing ploy).

Unfortunately, the average solar panel here in .au - the sort you can buy, that is - runs at about eight percent efficiency. Twenty percent is definitely possible in a consumer panel, but the cost is quite prohibitive.

One of the things that this power company has been doing, is installing solar panels in schools. This serves many purposes, including education, "carbon credits" for the power company, a cheap power bill for the school, etc.

However, it's still marketing. The panels will never pay for themselves; they have a twenty year lifespan, and in that time will generate about A$19k worth of power. They cost, with government subsity of A$10k, about A$25k to install. Divide by two (approximately) to get US$ figures. It's working though; in places that the panels are installed, the number of people "buying" (sponsoring?) green or renewable energy has risen from about 8 percent to about 48 percent.

However, as has been mentioned, the only way to reduce that cost is to drive up demand. Increase supply to a point where they're not purchased in batches (and simply grabbed "off the shelf" by a wholesaler), and bingo - prices will come down.

Efficiency, too, will come up with time. Thirty to forty percent efficiency is possible under lab conditions, and it is predicted that this will be commercially available (albeit expensive!) in about 5 years.

[ Parent ]

Like I said, YMMV (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:39:26 AM EST

I have no idea what electricity costs in Oz. I also not that 8% eff is pretty crappy. When I researched this 6 months ago consumer-level panels were around 10-15% and had a guarantee of 20-25 years (meaning they would last at least that long [or get free repl] and therefore average longer).

Another way to "decrease" price is to calculate the real cost of the alternative. For instance, how much am I paying in tax dollars to the EPA to clean the air/water of pollution from coal plants?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
not THAT expensive (4.66 / 6) (#33)
by Sikpup on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:16:11 PM EST

I have been seriously looking at adding solar to my roof. cost appears to be appx $4500/kw, plus $4500 for a high grade inverter. In CA, there is a rebate program for installing solar, 50% of the first $6000 - ie a 3k discount, so for $10.5k plus installation = 2kw, or 15k for 3kw.

You can use the electric co. as a battery in most states - produce more than you use during the day, spinning your meter backwards, then it spins forwards at night.

Life span is supposed to be 25 years for the panels. 2kw * 10 hours / day * 365 = 7300 kwh/year. Here its 10 and 12 cents per kwh. average .11/kwh * 7300 = $800 * 25 year total value is about $20k.

There are a lot of rounding errors in the above, and I'm guessing about the 10 hours/day averaged over the year. I'm sure that one can get better than 5 hours/day, which would be a break-even point over the year. Also, the install isn't calculated, nor shipping costs and sales tax.

It still looks like it will be possible to break even or come out ahead using this system.

my .02

[ Parent ]
taking up land (3.33 / 3) (#38)
by jayhawk88 on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:58:22 PM EST

The point that I think statements like "solar panels/windmills take up a lot of land" are trying to make is that, at current efficiency rates, using solar/wind power to generate electricity takes up much more land when compared to conventional methods. In other words, if we were to use solar power, to produce the same amount of power would take up much more land than current methods.

Now, if solar power is able to get up to the 50-70% efficiency range, that would probably change...

Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web? -- John Ashcroft
[ Parent ]
Space (3.50 / 2) (#47)
by fluffy grue on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 06:55:19 PM EST

Yes, but there's all this unused space on the roofs of existing buildings, which could easily be used for solar power. The space is effectively "free." I think that's what Refrag meant.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

replies (none / 0) (#82)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Tue Jun 26, 2001 at 08:04:31 PM EST

Wind Takes a lot of land. It's ugly to look at. Dependand on wind patterns, and hence works reliably in few places.

Ugly? This seems like the silliest possible thing to say. Do coal plants look pretty? Besides, I rather like the look of wind generators.

Power satellite What happens when the "beam" misses it's target? Something other then the base station gets zapped with a very high energy microwave signal.

They aren't that intense.

Tidal Plants These mess with the ocean currents. That in turn messes with the climate.

Compared to the energy in the ocean, they don't take that much energy out of the system. If they start to change anything, we can always cut back.

[ Parent ]

Wow... (3.00 / 11) (#12)
by Dolgan on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:01:50 PM EST

I'm here to present you with reality when I say kindly:

"Nuts to that." Or less kindly, "Fuck that."

7pm to 10pm is when I am doing my most active things on the computer a lot of the time. I experienced the first part of the "energy crisis" in Seattle when they doubled, tripled, quadrupled the electric bill, but I've never experienced a rolling blackout.

Until I do, I'm finding it extremely difficult to care. I'm in a severe state of apathy when it comes to this, and unless you can convince me otherwise, I think I'll be playing EverQuest during 7pm to 10pm, or perhaps bitching on IRC about how much I hate it when a monkey drags on to almost a hundred people about how many chicks he paid to get on his bed.

Not trying to be an asshole, just trying to be honest.

How about showing it all the time? (4.23 / 13) (#20)
by lordsutch on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 01:58:03 PM EST

Lemme get this straight: every time there's an energy crisis, instead of fixing the lack of supply or the excess demand in a permanent way, we should switch all our stuff off for 3 hours? Are you going to do this every night until there's enough power to feed the starving children in Ethiopia? If not, what's the point? This is the sort of logic behind those silly Internet petitions that go around.

How about, instead, let's all turn our thermostats up a couple of degrees (or down a couple if you're south of the equator), switch off our monitors when we're not in front of the computer, pass up seeing any of the current movies (that suck anyway), and carpool. Or something, anything, other than this meaningless self-congratulatory bullcrap masquerading as concern for the environment. Sure, it doesn't have the fun appeal of "sticking it to the man," but (a) the man doesn't care and (b) it might actually accomplish something in the long term.

Linux CDs. Schuyler Fisk can sell me long distance anytime.

symbolic (4.33 / 6) (#22)
by Refrag on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:16:25 PM EST

You're missing the fact that this Roll Your Own Blackout thing is almost entirely symbolic. It can show that instead of quickly building the cheapest power-plants that they can build, natural gas plants, that perhaps conservation along with intelligent construction of cleaner power sources (nuclear, hydro, geothermal) would be a better solution.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Alternative Power Sources (4.25 / 4) (#28)
by Karmakaze on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 02:37:34 PM EST

I ran across a column on the energy crisis[1] with some interesting links on solar energy.

In particular, check out the Millian Solar Roof Initiative which is [US] government sponsored.

[1] When the article times out, I have a feeling the URL will become http://www.politicsnj.com/nathan/SR_053101.htm.


Experiences with Solar Heating (3.75 / 4) (#41)
by Acapnotic on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:17:17 PM EST

We had a solar water installed in our home in 1990. You might think that laughable considering we're in cloudy Portland, Oregon, but it is sunny a good deal of the time during the summer here. Really! <points out window> And so it did decrease our electricity bills by a significant amount during the summer months.

But there were problems. Due to the construction and plumbing of our house, we couldn't use a passive circulation system for the coolant, so we used a pump-powered system instead. Either the pump or some other part of the coolant system seemed to break or loose pressure on a yearly basis, so the maintance cost us nearly as much as we were saving. Then last year, the heater system itself gave up the ghost entirely. Our serviceman declared it irretreviable, and said we would need an entirely new installation (from panels on down). It also seems that unlike disk drives, such systems have not grown substantially cheaper over the past few years.

We haven't decided what we're going to do in terms of a replacement yet.

[ Parent ]
The Wall St. Journal Had a Field Day (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by Anatta on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:04:05 PM EST

with this (seemingly idiotic) suggestion... you can find their enlightened rebuttle here under "Roll your own what?" Seems to me we should just let good ol' Uncle Capitalism take care of it for us...
My Music
No, an enlightened rebuttle would have been to (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by elenchos on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 05:48:14 PM EST

...give an argument as to why conservation is not a viable alternative to building more power plants. Or at least an argument as to why mass demonstrations like this are ineffective.

Instead, the WSJ took the unenlightened route of joking about the potential danger of candles and spreading the same old tired FUD about government regulation, supposedly of candle wicks. It probably is idiotic to think that Dubya cares how many people oppose his plan to burn more fuel, but nothing in this "rebuttle" makes the Journal look any smarter.

In nightclubs, supermodels stomp their heels
and dream of their hearts being enlarged
with compassion implants
as the poet gets all the attention
[ Parent ]

Put this in your pipe and smoke it (5.00 / 2) (#49)
by physicsgod on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 11:06:45 PM EST

Given: An economy requires energy.
Our modern economy uses electricity for energy.

Assumptions: Economic growth is a Good Thing.
Economic growth creates greater energy demand. (sure, you could make your economy more effecient, but eventually (and in most cases we're there or real close) you're going to hit your maximum effeciency)

Therefore: Energy use is going to increase.

Therefore: Even with maximal conservation eventually you will outstrip your energy production capacity.

Therefore: Conservation is not a viable alternative to building more powerplants.

And if you don't like logical deduction here's a real world example, California. They've been using conservation as an alternative to building power plants for 20 years and now they can't produce enough electricity to cover a power plant going down.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
physicsWHAT? (3.00 / 2) (#50)
by elenchos on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 11:39:41 PM EST

Oh, dear, I was imagining an economy that didn't use any energy at all, but for now I'll play along and pretend this energy thing you speak of is strictly required. /me rolls eyes.

Growth is good, ...sure, if you say so. Enthememe: what I have defined as good will happen, therefore energy use is going to increase. Because the economy cannot possibly be any larger unless more energy is consumed, because the amount of economic output per unit of energy consumed is forever pre-determined and unchangeable. However efficiently we use energy now, that cannot increase, due to the invariant quantity we shall henceforth call "Physicsgod's Constant." Whee!

So we have the economy growing at some rate, and therefore the consumption of engergy must increase in direct proportion to the growth in the economy.

Conservation? No effect? Why? Because even maximal conservation does nothing to reduce the amount of engergy consumed per unit of economic output. Same is true of minimal conservation. Minimal conservation equals maximum conservation. They both equal zero! Huh? Because of PHYSICSGOD'S CONSTANT! Haven't we already proven that energy consumption must always be in direct proportion to economic output?

Yes, we proved that. At least I think we did, somewhere around here is the proof... Um, anyway, the economy will keep growing and growing and growing (because growth is good) and therefore engergy use will keep going up and up and up! Forever? Sure! Why not?

It isn't like burning more and more fuel could possibly do anything bad to the economy. No matter how much fuel we burn, things will only get better and better. Economic growth is measured in total goods produced and services performed, never in pollution endured and political compromises forced and wars fought by dependence on unrenewable imported fuel. In fact those thing are always added to GNP! Same with things like long term health care for people sick from pollution. Economic activity is economic activity, no matter if it is used to built bombers or respirators or put food on your table. So everything will be fine! We will just keep building more power plants and buring more fuel and nothing bad will ever happen! Yay!

I always heard that California had a distribution problem, not a production problem, but I can see via your powerful logic that I was misinformed. Thanks.

Guys in trendy rock bands mope like damp rats
whenever a poet walks into a room.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

You didn't have to smoke the whole damn bowl! (none / 0) (#51)
by coryking on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 12:11:09 AM EST

This makes no sense. I'm not even going to bother picking apart your argument(er, rant), because quite frankly, it's a bitch to read.

And by the way, kindly lay off your altruistic, "I know whats best for everybody - I'm right, you're all wrong" attitude, it makes you look like a arrogant twit.

[ Parent ]

Well then... (none / 0) (#53)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 02:13:00 AM EST

...just explain it to me in nice, simple terms. If I'm so full of crap, then you shouldn't have any trouble showing me what I'm so wrong about. In case you're new or something, I can assure you that labeling me an "arrogant twit" and asking me to kindly lay off is not going to get you anywhere, and isn't even going to slow me down. So if it is too hard for you to read a satire, or to write an argument in response, then you might as well just give up and go try something you can do.

Asking me to shut up will not work, that's for sure.

Guys in trendy rock bands mope like damp rats
whenever a poet walks into a room.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

ye gods, talk about obtuse (none / 0) (#64)
by physicsgod on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:11:41 PM EST

You must be one of those people who wonder why power plants can't get more than 60% efficiency.

Here is my point in simpler terms. There are already economic incentives to increase energy efficiency, it's called price. Once you hit the theoretical effeciency of your process any increase in that process is going to require an increase in energy. In other words you won't be able to conserve past a certain point, and then you're going to have to increase production if you have an increased demand. I never said anything about HOW you produce the energy, but you're going to have to produce it somehow.

Now, did you get that, or should I go back and change all the polysyllabic words?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Nope, never wondered about that. (2.00 / 1) (#69)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:24:03 PM EST

So there are economic incentives to increase efficiency, because using a lot of energy costs consumers money and they don't like that. We are certain that what consumers actually pay for electricy is closely coupled with the actual cost. There are no hidden costs, like government subsidies that take money from every taxpayer and reduce the bill of every electricity consumer. No overseas military adventures that artificially reduce the cost of energy for consumers. No future health care costs that are not factored into the cost of buring more fuel.

So. Since we are free of all those considerations, we have only to consider the proven fact that the rate of increase in the size of the economy is equal to the rate of increase in the amount of energy required. This is because efficieny does not increase. Or physicsgod's constant restated in different terms.

And because conservation is pointless. Now, I know that we set out to prove that conservation was pointless, but now for the moment we are going to use that as a premise to support the conclusion. Don't worry. See, if conservation were worthwhwhile, that would change things. If many people altered their lifestyle so that they actually consumed less, then the rate of increase in energy usage would not equal the rate of economic growth. Which would contradict physicsgod's constant, and we are at present unprepared to to admit that.

Therefore the idea of many people deciding to make sacrifices and change their lifestyle to conserve energy is a bad idea. See?

Now, the reason you find this hard to follow is becase it is simply a reflection of your reasoning, and your reasoing doesn't work. The flaw is in the idea that the present typical American lifestyle cannot be changed, and so increses in efficiency are only going to be marginally small, or practically zero compared with economic growth.

But the entire point of the original idea was to demonstrate (or perhaps test) the willingness of Americans to make real changes in their lives to consume substantially less engergy in the future. To you, conservation means using a lightbulb that is 5% more efficient, and noticing no change in your comfort level. To those proposing this demonstration, it means using half as many lightbulbs as you do now, which means living differently.

You may claim you don't want to live differently, or that no one else wants to live differently, but I don't see where you have an argument that it is impossible. It is impossible if everyone keeps the same gross level of luxury and creature comforts that we are used to, but I think it is at least worth considering the possibility that people are smart enough to exchange those pale material pleasures for an end to wars for oil, a polluted environment, and a permanent state of energy crisis.

Something has to give, doesn't it? Or do you actually think that the amount of fuel burned must and should only go up and up and up?

It sure looks like I'm still right, and still have good reason to be smug and condescending towards you, and you are still wrong and still wish you could be like me. Sorry.

Everyone wants to be a poet, even the coroner
scribbling in his note pad at the crime scene
a drowned man is judged only by his piers.
[ Parent ]

ok, once was amusing... (2.00 / 1) (#72)
by physicsgod on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 12:01:38 AM EST

Now it's just painful. For the life of me I can't see any link between what I'm writing and what you're writing, so this is going to be my last attempt.

Conservation has limits, straight out of the laws of thermodynamics, you can't get something for nothing. If you want more you need more energy. Advocating a less energy intensive lifestyle is like organic farming, a load of shit. So instead of spending all this time on feel-good nothings, get off your ass and find a way to generate more light with less electricity, or a cheap way to use biomass as a fuel source, or anything else that's actually productive.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Oh! I get it now! (none / 0) (#75)
by elenchos on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:44:43 AM EST

The reason a less energy intensive lifestyle won't work is because it is a load of shit! Of course! Why, how could I miss a fact as obvious as that? Why didn't you just say in the beginning that it is a load of shit, instead of spending all this time trying to use logic and data and all that useless stuff? Have the others heard about this? I think you could really turn a lot of people around if you went an announced to them that using less engergy is a load of shit.

My cousins who are making all that money growing organic (and unsubsidized) soybeans in Iowa and selling them to the Japanese are not going to be pleased though. Here they thougth that they were turning this huge profit and it turns out that in fact it is just a load of shit. Oh well. Gotta face facts some day, that's what I always say.

I think the reason you think that what I say has nothing to do with what you say is that you are failing so miserably to convince me that you are right. Hence, we continue to disagree.

Now, conservation does indeed have limits. So we can reasonably presume that yes, if the economy grows by some nonzero amount, then so will energy demand. But how does that prove that conservation is useless? If everyone used ten percent less energy, then that ten percent could be used to support future growth, without burning more fuel to meet that demand. If conservation only had a benefit of using one percent less energy, that is one percent that could be used for growth. How is that not a benefit?

And then there is the alternative. Keep on consuming as much as we can, and so keep burning more and more to sustain economic growth. Where does that lead? Does that ever end?

And then there is this cheating way of measuring growth, not counting the future costs of pollution, not counting the costs of keeping energy prices low for consumers with wars, "peacekeeping", subsidies, price controls, government kickbacks and corruption. What if we reduced the amount of goods and services produced, but also reduced the above costs by a greater amount? I would call that economic growth, even if the fake way of measuring things we use now would call it shrinkage. Do lost lives count in economic growth? Military troops guarding oil supplies and sick people dying too young because of short-sighted environmental policy: what is their value? If seven million people in New York city are one percent less productive because they feel like shit because of pollution, does that count? Not at present it doesn't.

I can't prove anything with these unknown quantities, but they do exist, and so they seriously call into question any confidence in these statements about growth and economic health. Obviously, only a small part of the whole picture is being looked at.

I have no idea how many people would be willing to make a public demonstration of their willingness to sacrifice to conserve energy, and I am almost certain that Bush does not care anyway what anyone besides his rich handlers thinks, but that does not change the fact that sitting back and letting energy consumption increase without bound is folly.

As far as cheap ways of generating power, they are already here: wind, biomass, solar. They only seem expnesive compared to the phony prices we pay for coal and petroleum, which don't take into account the hidden costs and future reckoning.

Everyone wants to be a poet, even the coroner
scribbling in his note pad at the crime scene
a drowned man is judged only by his piers.
[ Parent ]

I kinda liked it... (none / 0) (#55)
by poltroon on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:40:45 AM EST

He raises some good points, and in an amusing way to boot. Obviously the energy situation in the US isn't as simple as physicsgod put it. For one thing, he (she?) left out the pollution factor. Given the Bush plan of popping out more natural-resource-slurping power plants that belch out more pollution, conservation is still incredibly relevant.

[ Parent ]
Thank you. (nt) (none / 0) (#63)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:00:59 PM EST

Everyone wants to be a poet, even the coroner
scribbling in his note pad at the crime scene
a drowned man is judged only by his piers.
[ Parent ]

My point (none / 0) (#65)
by physicsgod on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:13:50 PM EST

Wasn't about methods of production, just that you will eventually need to increase production somehow if you want economic growth, which for some reason the majority of the people want.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
To neglect the methods of production... (none / 0) (#66)
by poltroon on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 03:57:21 PM EST

makes your point very weak. I mean, sure it would be swell if there were no side effects or consequenses involved with building power plants. I'm all for renewable energy, but it doesn't look like that's the direction Bush is taking us any time soon, hence conservation IS relevant.

[ Parent ]
Well (none / 0) (#68)
by physicsgod on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:01:19 PM EST

Unless you're willing to impose an economic moratorium until intermittant/renewable energy sources are available we're just going to have to make do with what we've got. Right now the cleanest power production method we've got is nukes, and people seem to get all squirmy when they're mentioned. Which leaves coal, oil, and Nat. Gas plants. Don't forget there's ~3-5 year construction time involved with the latter three, more like 10-15 with nukes, so you have to plan ahead.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
yes, (none / 0) (#71)
by poltroon on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 10:11:17 PM EST

it would make sense to plan ahead, rather than spitting out a bunch of coal, gas, oil plants just because they're fast and easy. Conservation could actually make it possible to pursue clean, sustainable alternatives which would take longer to implement, like wind power. Conserving energy is not going to make the economy grind to a halt.

[ Parent ]
coal et al. (none / 0) (#73)
by physicsgod on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 12:12:10 AM EST

Aren't fast and easy, they're cheap. If you want intermittant power supplies to become more popular you're going to have to make them cost as much, if not less, than current plants. And increased consumer prices are only going to put pressure on the generators to increase production, quickly, which means more dirty power plants.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
thanks, (none / 0) (#74)
by poltroon on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 01:42:53 AM EST

for leaving it to me to develop affordable energy solutions for the better future of the environment and sustainablility of society. While I'm at it, feel free to go on using power like there's no tomorrow. I trust that it's all channeled into your boundless economic productivity.

You must be counting on being dead before your economy meets the consequences of irresponsible resource depletion, dependency on other parts of the world, environmental damage, etc.

[ Parent ]

such a lie (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 01:25:15 PM EST

Right now the cleanest power production method we've got is nukes...

That is such a lie. Nukes are far and away the filthiest technology of producing electric power ever built by humankind. (Of course, historically, nuclear reactors were not originally built to generate power, that was just a side-issue, but instead to create raw materials for manufacturing atomic bombs, with which to butcher foreign civilians by the tens or hundreds of millions.)

When one burns coal or oil in a power plant, the primary effluent is carbon dioxide. While every responsible scientist recognizes that CO2, in large enough quantities, is a dangerous environmental toxin, nevertheless when you release CO2 into the environment, a good deal of it is reasonably promptly absorbed and reduced to non-toxicity by green plants and the plankton on the surface of the oceans. Nuclear power plants, on the other hand, transform natural uranium, with a half-life of several billion years and a correspondingly miniscule degree of radioactive flux, into violently toxic and pervasive wastes, having much shorter half-lives and corresponding higher degrees of radioactive flux, which cannot be neutralized by any known means whatsoever except the passage of hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years of time.

The reason nuclear power plants superficially appear to be "clean" is because those deadly wastes are so dramatically toxic that no one, ever, has attempted to release them into the natural environment - except, of course, by accident, such as when a nuclear-reactor powered Thresher or Kursk sinks and splits open on the ocean floor, or a Chernobyl blows sky-high.

Here is an analogy. You and I have different domestic habits. I generate one trash bag full of only slightly toxic garbage per week in my apartment. You generate three bags of violently poisonous garbage per week in your apartment. Every week, I walk my trash bag out to the dumpster. You, on the other hand, for the last several decades, have never ever taken your trash outside; your bulging, lethal trash bags are stored in your apartment's closets, which are now all full to capacity, and now your guest room is half-full too. To the superficial outside observer, you're running a cleaner operation than I am. But how long can you keep this illusion up?

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

stint grits
darts file
gratis ways to fit tins
dapper angle
ill apple
-Barbara Baracks

[ Parent ]

Coal isn't clean (none / 0) (#80)
by zakalwe on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 11:07:07 AM EST

When one burns coal or oil in a power plant, the primary effluent is carbon dioxide.
But not its most dangerous one. Mined coal contains a lot of highly toxic impurities, including several radioactive substances. In fact, you will be exposed to a significantly higher radiation living near a coal plant than near a nuclear plant. A lot of the byproducts are also highly carcinogenic.
To the superficial outside observer, you're running a cleaner operation than I am. But how long can you keep this illusion up?
This is a real point, but your question is not as rhetorical as you think. If your neighbour has facilities for storing his waste for a few million years, then I'd conclude that he is being more environmental (since we may have a better olution by the time we run out of space.)

Also, since it takes burning much more coal to produce the same amount of power, your analogy may be better stated as you producing 3 bags of mildly toxic poison, and your neighbour producing 1 gram of incredibly poisonous waste. (Admittedly, I don't know enough to know how the numbers turn out, but the ratios of waste do make a difference.

I'm not sure how long it will take for storage of nuclear waste to remain practical, but I think we should what we have while we can in lieu of pumping poisons into the atmosphere.

[ Parent ]

five thousand years after I die (none / 0) (#81)
by anonymous cowerd on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 03:56:38 PM EST

...Also, since it takes burning much more coal to produce the same amount of power, your analogy may be better stated as you producing 3 bags of mildly toxic poison, and your neighbour producing 1 gram of incredibly poisonous waste.

You are quite correct. I noticed that flaw after I posted it. Nonetheless, the closets are all full.

Your right again that coal is far from an ideal fuel; between the danger of global warming, the toxic emissions burning it spews into the atmosphere, the ghastly environmental damage that accompanies ripping open the earth to extract it - ever see a strip mine? - and the finitude of the world's supplies.

I don't share the common knee-jerk objection to nuclear power, which I suspect is more informed by visions of Hiroshima than of Chernobyl anyway. If scientists and engineers can come up with a reasonably likely technological solution to the long-term storage of nuclear power plant wastes (a solution, which, however, isn't even on the horizon yet), and if anyone could come up with a way so that nuclear power plant construction doesn't translate into nuclear weapons proliferation, and if the engineers building and running those power reactors engineers can be induced to focus on safety rather than cost-cutting - which, I'll admit, they've been reasonably successful in doing in the U.S.A., Japan, and Western Europe, though obviously not in the former Soviet Union - then I would not object all that strenuously to seeing new nuclear power plants going up.

But those are some pretty big "ifs." To focus on the nuclear waste aspect alone, the fact remains that during the more than five decades since the construction of the first production reactors, no one anywhere has ever managed to safely and permanently dispose of even a kilogram of high-level nuclear waste. Even if no one ever builds another nuclear plant, the human race still has vastly multiplied the amount of radioactivity in the biosphere - or rather, either out in the biosphere or separated from the biosphere by the thin, corroding walls of storage tanks - and that's a problem which I feel we need to solve.

Here's a suggestion, which - alas, the Duh-Byuh administration not only wipe their asses with my ballot but also perversely ignore my sagest advice - I launch into the air like a child loosing a helium balloon, to be lost and ignored. Instead of squandering tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars on a "Strategic Defense Initiative," whose sole purpose is to be able to threaten Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union with a nuclear first strike - a bit of a waste of effort, dontcha think, inasmuch as our one-time ally Stalin is long dead and the Soviet Union has been shattered and bankrupted - instead of flushing all that wealth down the toilet like that, why don't we throw a few tens of billions at the nuclear waste problem? Sometimes you can unravel enormous, seemingly insoluble technical problems by simply throwing tax cash at them with both hands. Hey, that's how we built the first atom bomb, and that's how we sent tourists to walk around on the surface of the moon, and nobody beforehand thought we could achieve either. Surely the dream of completing the nuclear power cycle, so the world's billions can enjoy clean, cheap power, is at least as appealing as massacre or tourism.

I wonder why I care. Recorded history is a mere five or so millennia old. It seems to me that as things are going, there's a good chance that not just the filthy, guilty, damned human race but all the mammals on the face of the earth might go extinct within the next five thousand years. Why I care at all about the fortune of people and animals thousands of years after my own death is a bit of a mystery to me. But I do.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

stint grits
darts file
gratis ways to fit tins
dapper angle
ill apple
-Barbara Baracks

[ Parent ]

Conservation (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Anatta on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:06:03 AM EST

Though I do admire the WSJ's skill at attacking the "environmentalists'" silly protest, I will say that energy conservation is extremely important in our economy.

And we're doing a pretty good job at it.

There was a chart in the Economist (sadly it is now "premium content") showing how changes in GDP related to growth in the use of energy (in america) and GDP doubled while energy consumption rose only 30%. This suggests we're getting much more energy efficient. However, an economy doesn't get more energy efficient by price controls, nor does it do so by cute little candle-lit PR stunts (I wonder how much energy the fire dept. will use putting out housefires on that night?). Energy efficiency comes by letting businesses create a new house insulation that keeps in more heat, by creating refrigerators that use less electricity, by creating cars that are more fuel efficient. As energy prices rise, these products will become more attractive. As people see the new products will save them money, they purchase them. Simple as that.

We have more oil reserves than we have ever had, we have more of virtually every natural resource available to us than we have ever had, due to technology. Wired magazine has this article detailing what is likely the future of electricity distribution. As more and more people "wire" their homes, energy efficiency will improve. Think about millions of refrigerators, wired into a network... each one controlled by an agent that, when the refrigerator requests to turn on to cool its contents, may tell the refrigerator to wait a few minutes until a bottleneck is through, or be tell the fridge to turn on earlier in order to avoid a potential bottleneck. The efficiencies gained would be significant... and that's just refrigerators.

I for one am strongly encouraged by what I see happening in the future for energy consumption. So maybe we should all blow out our candles and instead do something useful, like see how we might make our homes more energy efficient (when was the last time someone checked your place to see if your home is insulated in the most energy efficient way?)

Candle-lit protests may look great on TV and sound great in email chain letters, but not even the Greens would suggest that they actually do anything whatsoever. I sincierely hope the "environmental movement" grows up to the point where it can actually do some things to help the environment, rather than just posture, complain, and protest the evils of Big Business (while drinking their Starbucks Latte's)...

End of rant.
My Music
[ Parent ]

No one suggested that: it it your straw man. (none / 0) (#62)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 02:20:09 PM EST

Yours and the "admirable" critics at the WSJ. The stated purpose of the demonstration is to send a message (primarily to President Bush) that large numbers of people disagree with his plan to build more plants and burn more fuel. See, the idea is that going without any power for three hours is not an entirely trivial effort. More of an effort than say, just joining an email petition. It is supposed to demonstrate commitment, and a willingness to make sacrifices. No acutal person ever said that this three hours of people turning off everything was in itself going to save a significant amount of energy. Only an imaginary person thinks this: your straw man.

So forget about all that. And also write off the time wasted with this candle business: Care to guess the increase in number of houses burned down during Spokane's ice storm of 92, when thousands and thousands of households used candels for several days? Answer: zero.

Starbucks lattes? I don't even know what that has to do with anything. Do you get paid by the word or something?

Price controls? Slightly more relavent than lattes, I'll grant you that. But only slightly. The original idea was to demonstrate that many people are willing to make sacrifices to avoid burning more fuel. I don't see how that leads automatically to price controls, nor how it prevents businesses from making more efficient insulation. It seems to me they would be just as free to create it even if the nation sent a message that they are willing to make sacrifices to conserve energy. And in fact, if my company was thinking about spending more on R&D for energy efficiency, and I saw that there were mass numbers of Americans who demonstrated that they are willing to make the effort to use less, I would suspect that those are potential customers.

I mean, if on the other hand, nobody was willing to even go a scant 3 hours without power, that would kind of say that consumers don't care about effiency at all, and so instead sell them something bigger, faster and less efficeint.

So. I still see no argument against the idea of this protest. If many people participated, it would tell both business and government that people are serious about taking responsibility for energy gluttony, and want to go in a different direction. Perhaps (hold on to your hat) even permanently adopt a lifestyle that means consuming less, and enjoying in the place of all that material stuff a cleaner and more stable way of life.

Not that I'm actually predicting the future. I'll leave that to those brilliant prognosticators at Wired. Their predictions have always been pretty accurate, right?

Guys in trendy rock bands mope like damp rats
whenever a poet walks into a room.
--Poetry Nation, Jeffrey McDaniel
[ Parent ]

Burn the Straw Man for fuel... (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Anatta on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 04:54:18 PM EST

The stated purpose of the demonstration is to send a message (primarily to President Bush) that large numbers of people disagree with his plan to build more plants and burn more fuel.
That's great. I'm sure Bush will see the candles glowing in the windows of all the people along Pennsylvania Ave, and have a change of heart.
I'll criticize President Bush right now: his energy plan is a total waste, unnecessary (America has no energy crisis!), against "conservative" principals, and is pure corporate welfare, solely to pay back the people who got him elected. If he had any brains at all, he'd abandon it. There, he's criticized. Now let's get to the task at hand.

No acutal person ever said that this three hours of people turning off everything was in itself going to save a significant amount of energy.
Exactly. It won't solve anything. So perhaps it's time for people to turn on the proverbial lights above their heads and ask themselves, "what will solve our energy problems?" and actually work to fix the problems rather than posture on "statements" that don't do any good, and make environmentalists look more mental than environ...

As for price controls, if you read the news, you'll see that Bush (in his idiocy) gave in to FERC and instituted floating price controls in California. He was a fool to do so, and the controls will only exacerbate the energy issue in California because they will reduce business investment in new capacity and distribution systems while encouraging consumers to use more energy than they should. Bad bad bad, Shrub! Oh, and take a look at this if you want to learn who really cheated consumers in California...

If many people participated, it would tell both business and government that people are serious about taking responsibility for energy gluttony, and want to go in a different direction.
What energy gluttony? We have more oil reserves right now than we ever have before! Yes, we consume more and more oil, but as we consume more, we get better at extracting and finding it, and the result is we end up having more than we stared with. Dictionary.com defines gluttony as "excess in eating and drinking"... would you consider someone a glutton if they ate a cake, then baked two new ones? I don't think I would...

Clearly there are economic and environmental arguments for conservation, but the best way to conserve is to use energy-efficient products (thereby reducing the total cost of the products, and reducing the load on the energy grid). The link to the Wired article wasn't given necessarily to show the future, but rather to give you an idea of where the future of energy is heading. As I said, GDP in the US doubled while energy consumption rose by 30%. I'm very curious to see how much our energy consumption will rise when we double in GDP again.

So far, you haven't given one concrete, useful suggestion for how we might become more energy efficient, other than "use less". And we've seen in California how useless the "use less" mantra is. Energy runs our economy, and energy is one of the keys to economic growth. It seems to me we can get all the plusses of economic growth (higher wealth, standard of living, etc.) while still preserving our environment in a useful way. So now I'm going to continue thinking about how I can start an energy consulting company to help businesses improve their energy efficiency, save some money, help the environment, and make some profit.

What are you going to do?
My Music
[ Parent ]

A fat, doughy piggy who stuffs a whole cake.. (3.00 / 1) (#70)
by elenchos on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 09:45:45 PM EST

...down his gullet is most definitely eating to excess. The incidental fact that after his exercise in gluttony he goes and bakes more cake makes little difference. The reason eating a whole cake is excessive is that it is much more than he needs. So much that he is harming himself by eating that much. Going and making even more is the last thing this guy needs to do! Baking more is compounding the excess, when he should be over on the stair master for the next week.

So we burn too much fuel, waste it on creature comforts, and in the process pollute our environment and have to use subsidies, price controls, foreign wars and god knows what other extreme measures to keep it all going. This is the harm we get from using too much energy, same as our friend who just packed another pound of lard on his extra, extra wide ass. Finding more oil to burn, digging up more coal, creating more nuclear waste, will not reduce any of those harmful effects. It will add to them, in the same way that eating the two more cakes will add two more pounds to butterbutt's can.

You are probably right that Duby isn't listening. What does he care what the majority of Americans want? He didn't need them go become president.

Here's some concrete suggestions to use way less energy: Kill your television. Move to within 10 miles of where you work (or get a job within 10 miles of where you live) and bike to work. Sell your car. Vote yes on a mass transit system for your city. Vote yes on funding the mass transit system you just voted yes on. Adopt the kind of mandatory recycling and re-use in the US that Europe typically has. If the place where you live is so hot that you think you can't live without air conditioning, consider the possibility that you would be better adapted to a different climate. Use less packaging. Pass laws requiring that all durable goods and all packaging to accepted back by the manufacturer at their expense when the consumer is done with them. Stop thinking like a USian.

That's a start. I'll come up with some more once I get warmed up...

Everyone wants to be a poet, even the coroner
scribbling in his note pad at the crime scene
a drowned man is judged only by his piers.
[ Parent ]

SUVs (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by anonymous cowerd on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 12:55:12 PM EST

Individuals can do it this way: if you own a three-ton SUV which you use to transport one person from your driveway to your office parking lot and back, at twelve miles per gallon, replace it as soon as possible with a reasonably sized car that gets thirty miles per gallon; if you don't own the ridiculous bloatmobile yet but you were thinking about buying one, change your mind and buy something less ugly and more efficient.

The U.S. government can do this: place the same emissions and CAFE mileage requirements on those passenger cars which superficially look like work trucks, that is SUVs, as are already in place for passenger cars which look like passenger cars. That's only fair, why should we owners of car-looking cars be penalized, as we currently are? Slap gigantic gas guzzlers such as the Ford Expedition with the same gas-guzzler tax that Ferrari owners now pay.

Ford Expeditions, how I hate them. Every time I see one on the road, I try to count how many passengers are currently inside of it. Sometimes that's not possible, because the windows are tinted, but my results thus far are as follows: I've seen them, at the very least, a hundred times. One was being used, believe it or not, as a work truck. (I'll bet they're great work trucks, at least if you can get one without the leather upholstery.) Two of them carried two passengers. One had three or four passengers. And all the rest had exactly one person inside. To transport one passenger, their owners pay $50,000, and burn a gallon of gas evey ten to twelve miles. Idiots.

While I'm dreaming, another suggestion for the legislators: add a federal tax to gasoline sales on a ramped schedule, fifteen cents per gallon starting 1/1/2002, thirty cents per gallon at 1/1/2003, and so on. This will provide financial incentive for citizens to change their car-buying behavior, while at the same time the ramp effect will lessen the impact on not-so-rich people who can't afford to replace their current gas-guzzler right away. It might also possibly stimulate the auto industry. Lessen the impact on delivery companies, etc., with appropriate tax deductions. Use the revenue for a general tax cut. The GOP tax cut just passed gives 45% of the savings to millionaires who contribute 37% of the taxes, thus transferring more of the tax burden from the idle rich to the working class. Since the rich got the lion's share of that last tax cut, let's make the new one a tax cut on payroll taxes; again, this is only fair.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

stint grits
darts file
gratis ways to fit tins
dapper angle
ill apple
-Barbara Baracks

[ Parent ]

Conservation is not the answer (4.45 / 11) (#34)
by K5er 16877 on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 03:20:56 PM EST

It is easy for people from outside of California to look in and say, "Gee, those people need to conserve energy." But, that attitude comes from a lack of knowledge about California. We do conserve. Loretta Lynch, president of the California Public Utilities Commission which regulates the state's power and gas companies, states here (near the bottom):
Californians are super energy efficient in the way we use electricity. In fact, California ranks 49th in the per capita use of electricity across the nation. Only Rhode Islanders are better at using electricity than Californians.
Conservation has not helped California evade the electricity crisis. When the blackouts start rolling to other states, their lack of conservation will become evident.

My own electricity bill is a good example. Over the past year, the electricity consumption in my home has dropped over 33%. My total I pay in electricity, however, has increased over 80%. Even at a personal level, conservation has not paid off.

A voluntary blackout does nothing but promote conservation and decrease the demand (thus, decreasing the price). I welcome other people to stop using all electricity. It will marginally lower my payments. But, promotion of additional conservation in California is fruitless.


Another way of thinking about it is... (4.00 / 3) (#39)
by Acapnotic on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:02:50 PM EST

practice. What will you do if the lights do go out this summer?

Luckily, nothing (2.00 / 3) (#45)
by K5er 16877 on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 06:49:42 PM EST

I live in California, but I've never been hit by a rolling blackout. I'm lucky enought to live right between a hospital, ambulance station, and police headquarters. I belong to the lucky group of Californians living in outage block 50. Basically, I'm one of the last people to lose power during a rolling blackout.

It's good to be the king.


[ Parent ]

actually... (none / 0) (#61)
by guinsu on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 11:08:39 AM EST

In some ways I am sort of hoping for it. I've got this new telescope that I know I haven't been able to use to its fullest abilities. Hopefully the blackout comes on a really clear night. :)

[ Parent ]
Heh (2.83 / 6) (#40)
by Ater on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 04:15:38 PM EST

I'm just glad I live in Texas and don't have to deal with any of this blackout crap :) I think I'll be leaving all the lights on tonight just for the hell of it.

Ditto Ontario :) (none / 0) (#56)
by Mantrid on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 07:53:21 AM EST

No EQ blackouts for me :P

And here's to hoping for big things from ITER (which might be just down the road from me).

[ Parent ]

A snowball has a better chance in hell... (3.00 / 9) (#42)
by elenchos on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 05:22:54 PM EST

...than any attempt to get most kurobots to lift a finger to help anyone else, or to take part in any kind of collective action for the general benefit. The problem is that there is no immediate gratification. Without a nearly-instant payoff, these guys will expend an (ironically) unlimited amount of effort to rationalize their selfishness, and think of new, and ever more clever-sounding, ways of scoffing at those who act altruistically, at the risk of wasting the effort.

The irony is further compounded when one of these risk-averse armchair heroes makes a speech (the bright ones put it in a separate thread) extolling their own macho courage and sniping at someone they want to label as a coward. The irony reaches a level that can only be called disgusting when said hero wants to try to claim that the poor or that minorities are responsible for their own suffering due to their addiction to immediate gratification, and that the reason white males in the US have it so good is their culturally superior ability to delay gratification and endure short-term risk or hardship for long-term gain.

So the result is a guy who is proud of the fact that his philosophy makes him indistinguishable from someone whose contribution to their world amounts to sitting on his ass and doing nothing.

Does this attitude make them a desirable person to have around? If they find that they are not getting as much social acceptance as they wish, do they ever think that maybe this has something to do with it? Just wondering...

In nightclubs, supermodels stomp their heels
and dream of their hearts being enlarged
with compassion implants
as the poet gets all the attention

Here's an idea... (4.33 / 3) (#48)
by /dev/niall on Wed Jun 20, 2001 at 09:59:33 PM EST

Why not be responsible in your use of energy... all the time! Imagine that!

This is silly.
"compared to the other apes, my genitals are gigantic" -- TheophileEscargot

Sorry this is a dumb idea. (4.25 / 4) (#57)
by Mantrid on Thu Jun 21, 2001 at 07:58:59 AM EST

It's like gasoline buying strikes, you're not 'showing' anyone a damn thing if you're just going to be using power the same afterwards.

Besides from where i am, there's no 'crisis'. And California's 'crisis' is there own damn fault, and now they want to make it worse with price caps. If you really want people to start conserving power let the damn prices go up...then they'll find ways actively.

Demonstrate Energy Conservation Matters | 82 comments (77 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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