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If I turned you off back there - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
If I turned you off back there
"On televisions, for example, we would like to see labels saying 'if you watch it, it will cost x pence per hour, if you leave it on standby, it will cost y pence'. Then you can present the environmental cost in monetary terms"
But that's not actually presenting the environmental cost at all, really, is it? Unless you add "WHICH MEANS that when you sink into drooling oblivion in front of the flickering forms of minor celebrities bonking in a bath of baked beans you are not only wasting the product of several thousand years of human evolution but also SYSTEMATICALLY RAPING THE PLANET and leaving it an UNINHABITABLE WASTE LAND, you selfish cretin." Really. Is it. I mean.

That's before we get to the question of how in the name of -- well, frankly, anything you care to name -- an electric toothbrush can be regarded as "essential".

I think I'm just in a bad mood today.

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From: ewtikins Date: January 10th, 2007 12:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't have a TeeVee. I do fall into the internet similarly a lot, though.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 10th, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude, I'm not saying "people shouldn't use electricity". I use a computer for at least 10 hours a day. It would be spectacularly hypocritical of me, not to mention mindbogglingly and laughably stupid, to castigate the internet on the internet for using the internet.

That doesn't change the fact that "this will cost you x pence per hour" is not really giving people any information about the environmental cost unless they already have a handy pence-per-hour-to-kilograms-of-carbon-emissions converter installed in their brain, in which case they probably don't need a bit of lip-service in the small-print on the packaging for their laptop.
hairyears From: hairyears Date: January 10th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hmmm.... Barclays have poster up telling the happy commuters of Canary Wharf that you can 'Offset' the carbon emissions of a flight to Shanghai with twenty-two quids' worth of tree planting.

I'm not convinced that you can monetise environmental damage but it seems reasonable to try costing a preventative effort.

So the warning would read:

If you watch this, it costs x pence per hour, and y pence on standby; if you had to pay to prevent the environmental damage it would be another xc and yc. But as nothing is being done to prevent the environmental damage it'll end up costing some poor bastard his home, his crops, and his access to safe drinking water; that poor bastard might not be you but the economic disasters of Global Warming will probably cost you your job and a fair bit of your pension.

Actually, I think the best thing is to keep watching: a population of clinically obese couch-potatoes is probably a valuable carbon sink (assuming they are buried rather than cremated).

cartesiandaemon From: cartesiandaemon Date: January 10th, 2007 12:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, it's a decent approximation. I don't know how the cost of manufacturing and disposing of a TV compares to that of using it. But environmental inneficiencies transmitted by electricity is surely a major one, and then money is a good measure of that, right?
j4 From: j4 Date: January 10th, 2007 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
The point I'm clearly failing to make is that "this costs x pence per hour" does not per se actually tell Joe Average anything at all about "the environment", unless he already knows (as I certainly don't) at least a rule-of-thumb formula for calculating how pence-per-hour translates into meansurable environmental inefficiency and/or damage.
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bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: January 10th, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got it. :D

I was diverted into a "but is it better for the environment to have unfit young couch potatoes or to have them out on the streets vandalizing trees, driving cars (legally or illegally), or doing other unpleasant and probably carbon-emitting things?" thought which got precisely nowhere because my brain is full of cotton wool. Which probably isn't environmentally sound either.
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ewx From: ewx Date: January 10th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

no electrical power

You don't need oil to generate electricity.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: January 10th, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Though basically I'm very much with you, there is a valid point being made by the label, which you've missed. That's to point out that if you leave your TV on standby you really genuinely are wasting electricity and also your own money. Which is generally not known or cared about. It'll be a lot easier to stop people pointlessly pouring energy down the drain by leaving things on standby, than to stop them actually using stuff. But then I'd rather they had the label `if British people turned their TVs off rather than putting them on standby we'd need one fewer power station[1]'. (While they're at it, rather than putting that label on new TVs, they could just not give them a standby mode.)

(Am entertained as the article starts by questioning the validity of cordless phones and electric toothbrushes, both of which I've just got for the first time for Christmas. However I do not like the electric toothbrush. Horrid vibraty thing like nails on blackboard. Can I stop using it on environmental grounds?)

[1] Does `having heard this statistic several times' count as `having independantly and intelligently verified whether it contains an ounce of truth'? Is leaving things on standby a significant waste of energy? Is the point I'm trying to make worth making at all? Shall I go and do some work? Tarra.
half_of_monty From: half_of_monty Date: January 10th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sorry, that were me. btw I'm back in Ox now. Want tea some time?
j4 From: j4 Date: January 10th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't miss that point, and I do think it's worth reminding people that if you leave electrical stuff switched on then it's using up electricity (though you'd think that'd be quite obvious), I just didn't think it was relevant to the environmental question! I certainly wasn't trying to cover every aspect of the debate. But I do think that what the chap said -- or at least what the Beeb reported -- is rubbish, and that appealing to people's desire to save cash is a significantly different issue from appealing to their environmental conscience (whether or not it has a knock-on benefit for the environment and/or is a useful thing in and of itself).

if British people turned their TVs off rather than putting them on standby we'd need one fewer power station

You may like some of these energy efficiency posters. I'm still trying to pluck up the courage to ask my SUV-driving, jet-setting, yacht-sailing boss if I can put some up at work.

However I do not like the electric toothbrush. Horrid vibraty thing like nails on blackboard. Can I stop using it on environmental grounds?

Err, if you don't like it, you can surely stop using it on the grounds that you're (presumably -- don't actually know who you are) an adult, and as such you're basically in charge of what you put in your mouth.

Personally I cannot imagine finding the task of brushing one's teeth so wearisome that one feels the need to get a machine to do it, but then I suppose I have fairly good arm muscles, and fewer than the full adult complement of teeth (four permanent teeth removed, no wisdom teeth yet), so maybe it does get tiring, who knows.
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: January 10th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha, switching TVs off? Not doubling the electricity cost of standby by having digital receivers? Integrated recording of course, which will probably be mainstream in five years, means you can't switch it off at all if you want to record something.
j4 From: j4 Date: January 10th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

in five years

Not wanting to be Area Man here, or anything, but I do not expect to watch any television after 2012, if I'm even still bothering with it by then.
fivemack From: fivemack Date: January 10th, 2007 04:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Random figures pulled from the ether

It's a deeply ineffective label, I agree; pointing out that leaving a telly on standby uses electricity to the cost, on a bad tariff, of roughly one Yorkie bar a month just isn't very striking.

... didn't Cadbury's have to dispose of a huge amount of defective chocolate a few months back? I sense a missed opportunity for an advert, a million pounds worth of real chocolate bars in a heap would be a striking image of what a million wasted pounds really means.

Households use a surprisingly small amount of electricity - a bit of Googling suggests the average household electricity use in Britain is 4500kWh per year, which is about 500 watts, totalling 13GW. Losing five watts of consumption per household would be a 1% cut, 130MW, and let you close this power station, though the inhabitants of the Isle of Grain would consider themselves victimised if the posters got that specific.

http://www.aepuk.com/need_info.php#20 takes me to http://www.aepuk.com/faq_pdf/dukes_2005_5.11.xls (an abomination - who puts repeating headers in a spreadsheet?) suggests there are 243 power stations in the UK, with a capacity of 77GW at peak (the 52 big ones add up to 65GW), of which we use 46GW on average.

Per-household power consumption would have to go down by 25% to allow Drax to be shut.
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: January 13th, 2007 10:34 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Random figures pulled from the ether

Or by about one-seventh to put me out of a job.

I think you could probably sell this to the Countryside Alliance and the like by expressing the savings in terms of wind turbines, especially if you used pictures of the really old, ugly, wimpy ones. Then you truthfully could say "The whole village changing to low-energy bulbs would obviate one of these", for a suitably sized village.

of which we use 46GW on average

That doesn't look right to me; I'd be prepared to go along with "On an average day, demand will peak at 46 GW", though. There are many occasions overnight in summer when the country happily chugs by on under 20 GW. The figures are in the public record; you can see them here and dig through the database, but from memory, I don't think we've got above 58-59 GW yet at all in this abnormally (probably record?) mild winter. Yet.

I can happily go into more non-confidential power station geekery on demand!
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