Starry Starry Night

8pm last night featured a conversation in our house that may have resonated elsewhere:

Spouse: OK, 8pm, time to turn off the lights and put on candles.

Me: But we have energy-saving bulbs, so surely the candles produce more carbon than the electricity used to power our light globes?

Spouse: But it’s about making a statement.

Me: What kind of a statement is it if you increase your carbon use?

Spouse: Look at our street – everyone else is doing it.

Me: Shall we turn off our fridge too?

Spouse: Just light the candles.

In related news, Joshua Gans blogs on the news from Melbourne. At least we Canberrans had a clear view of the stars.

Meanwhile, my university last week urged everyone to turn off lights and computers on Friday night, and offered a prize for the unit with the largest drop in electricity consumption. Since most of us typically turn things off when they leave for the weekend, my guess is that the prize will go to the part of the uni where leaving things on all weekend is the norm.

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7 Responses to Starry Starry Night

  1. Patrick says:

    Yes, highly similar, except we were at a friend’s house. Participating in Earth hour made me feel progressively stupider as the hour wore on.

    I like the point about the uni’s prize as well.

  2. Sinclair Davidson says:

    Well I’m shocked, SHOCKED! You had the cheek to question the spouce’s instructions. ‘Yes, dear’ is always the answer. 🙂

  3. Bruce Bradbury says:

    I leave my computer on all the time so that it can do climate prediction (and SETI) calculations (via the BOINC screensaver) 🙂

  4. reason says:

    Surely the candles give out much less light than the energy-saving bulbs, so unless the electricity is from renewable resources, my guess is you are actually reducing CO2 output, in spite of lower efficiency. Or did you light hundreds of candles?

  5. NPOV says:

    “What kind of a statement is it if you increase your carbon use?”

    Is is qualitatively different from temporarily increasing carbon usage to build nuclear power plants and wind turbines?

  6. Andrew Leigh says:

    Reason, we lit 4 candles, and turned off about 4 lights. Physical Insights has some data to suggest that doing this increased our CO2 emissions.

  7. reason says:

    Looks like calculation depends on lots of factors.

    What sort of candle was it is no 1 (parafin bad beeswax good)

    What power did the bulbs normally use. How much energy is lost in transmission over the grid. What is source of the power in your grid.

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