Friday, December 08, 2006

The Great Turn-Off

A group of concerned Australians will try to do their part this weekend by turning off their power. They have all seen Gore's Inconvenient Truth and want to do an experiment on what life would be like in an envisioned green paradise. For the weekend, they will cut power to their homes, unplug their phones, and refuse to even enter a powered building. To make life livable, they are allowed to burn beeswax or soy candles, to preserve their food with ice, and to take public transportation.

All of this is totally meaningless.

First, they conveniently chose the Australian Summer to do this. If they lived in Ohio where the current temperature is 25 degrees they might have some second thoughts. Just ask the 52,000 people whose power has been out for the last week. This is no happy lark in the winter. It can be a matter of life and death.

Of course, there is nothing to stop anyone from turning off lights or air conditioning. I used to know someone who didn't have a bedroom light because there was a streetlight near his window. It should be noted that candles are expensive, a fire hazard, and produce their own CO2.

Most of the rest of their ideas are wishful thinking. The ice that they use to cool their food and the food itself were produced with the very power that they shut off. Using power on Friday so that you can save it on Saturday is nothing but a shell game.

Yes, a century ago ice was harvested naturally from frozen lakes and shipped around the world. The population was a lot smaller back then and disease was common so no one worried about contaminated ice.

All of this is play-acting. Living a "carbon free lifestyle" for one weekend in the Summer is not a sustainable lifestyle and it probably does not represent a lifestyle that they would want to live on a permanent basis.

For a harsher view of the Great Turn-Off, see here.

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