Saturday, July 07, 2007

Live Earth Pledge #2

Live Earth Pledge #2:

"To take personal action to help solve the climate crisis by reducing my own CO2 pollution as much as I can and offsetting the rest to become “carbon neutral;"

I'm starting to believe that CO2 is not the only thing we need to worry about when it comes to climate change. There are two forces changing our climate. One force is warming it up -- that's what people are talking about in terms of reducing CO2 -- the other is cooling it down. The latter is Global Dimming caused by particulates in the air, which I've blogged on before as I've been missing the sun.

All energy ends up as heat, eventually. The law of entropy means that energy that's not used, the "useless" energy, ends up as heat. Witness the transformer plugged in. Have you ever noticed how hot it gets? Or the cable box that when on, but not in use, will show the time and produces a heck of a lot of heat, so much that keeping it on helps to keep my room warm in the winter (just like a computer and printer) but has to be OFF during the summer, else the un-air conditioned room its in becomes more unbearable. Or a incandescent light bulb becomes hotter than a CFL -- that's because the former has a lot of useless energy, and the latter uses much more of the energy coming in to produce actual light, making it more "efficient." All these little bits of heat, these little bits of useless energy, show up as dollars on our hydro bill, and they add to our global warmth. It's not just CO2-emitting sources of energy that create this heat, solar and wind power also do. These renewable, non-CO2 sources of energy are just as culpable in the heat-production department. After all they just supply the energy, its the design of the products we use that determines how well that energy is used. So what are we to do?

The solution my friends lies in insisting manufacturers create electrically powered products that have no energy wastage. We need to aspire to a balanced system, one that produces no entropy. In the distant, vague past, I remember that was considered an utopian idea. But we already have LED lights, which remain cool and last for decades. They are superior to CFLs, the light du jour, which I'm starting to hate for its effect on my eyes, but where does one buy LED lighting? CTV showed the David Suzuki green condo last night, which had such lighting. Hey! I thought tell us where to buy the suckers!!! By asking retailers about such things over and over and over, we may influence the making and distributing of them.

I prefer to cook with gas than electricity. It produces superior results because electricity is so unresponsive. But it produces obvious heat (remember every bit adds to the overall temp, and as we as a species multiply in number, all those fires, whether on my stove or outside an African hut, add up). One alternative I heard of recently is an induction stove. It remains cool to the touch and is as responsive as gas. It's also much quicker, requiring reduced cooking times, further reducing energy use. However, they're friggin' expensive. For the poor areas of the earth, one Canadian has invented pig-powered stoves. Good use of animal-produced methane! Another is putting LED lights in very poor areas to provide people with non-candle lighting. That's how we Canadians need to help our materially less-well-off cousins in the world: invent and share energy-efficient technology.

Live Earth and CTV are peppering the concerts with concrete ideas on how to reduce one's "carbon footprint." These are good and make the show useful, not just a feel-good exercise. Hopefully, it will not end up as the latter once all the acts are done and we return to our daily lives. Although, I have to say, I feel like I'm becoming just another cog in the trendoid movement of the moment.

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