In California, #EarthHour failed to register a blip in electricity reduction
On Saturday, March 23rd, Earth Hour was held in every time zone around the world at 8:30 PM local time. I had already run an essay pointing out why Earth Hour is little more than a ridiculous feel-good exercise that does nothing but demonize the value of electricity bring mankind out of the darkness and poverty.
The headlines as displayed by Google search, looked like this:
You’d think it was a success, except for those pesky people in British Columbia that didn’t want to sit in the dark as much as they did before. In the AP story in the LA Times, this was said:
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower went dark. In London, a kaleidoscope of famous sites switched off their lights — Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye. That scene was repeated over and over across the world Saturday night: at Sydney’s Opera House; at New Delhi’s great arch; at Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; at Edinburgh Castle in Scotland; at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; at St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow.
It lasted for just an hour and its power is purely symbolic. But in countries around the world, at 8:30 p.m., people were switching off their lights for Earth Hour, a global call for international unity on the importance of addressing climate change.
But, while I agree it was “purely symbolic” (aka ridiculous feel-good stunt) those are all words.
To really show why Earth Hour is ridiculous, we need some hard data.
For that, I turned to the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and their online web tool that tracks statewide electricity usage, here: http://www.caiso.com/TodaysOutlook/Pages/default.aspx
Here’s some screencaps of data from 3/24 at 8:30PM and 8:40PM California time. Note the inset box near the graph for the time and values. 20:30 is 830PM California time, right when Earth Hour is supposed to start.
Note there is hardly any difference in demand from 20:30 (8:30PM) to 20:40 (8:40PM) There’s a difference of 24,998MW at 8:30PM vs. 24,931 at 8:40PM. Proponents of the event might say that difference of 67MW in demand is “proof” of the success of Earth Hour.
CAISO also allows you to examine and compare the previous day of data, and that’s what I did and you can see in these tow screen captures for 8:30PM and 8:40PM California time on Friday, March 23rd. Electricity demand for Saturday, March 24th is also displayed.
Yesterday, March 23rd, the total demand was 26,204MW at 8:30PM (20:30) and 26,081MW at 8:40PM (20:40) and the difference over that 10 minutes was 123 MW – nearly double.
So what that says that on a normal day, when Californians aren’t being told to turn off their lights to participate in the ridiculous stunt known as “Earth Hour” Saturday, they actually dropped nearly twice the electricity demand in those same 10 minutes on Friday.
Here is the data I downloaded from CAISO, you can check my findings:
CAISO-demand_03-23-24-18 (Excel file)
I suspect that if other data was examined around the world, we’d find similar results saying that Earth Hour had no discernible impact on electricity demand.
That lack of significant impact on electricity use during Earth Hour in California could be for one of two reasons:
- Participation could be essentially non-existent – people really don’t want to sit in the dark
- More people left their lights on (as I recommended) to protest the ridiculous stunt and muted the impact of the few who did turn off their lights and sit in the dark.
Let that sink in. Clearly, Earth Hour was a complete failure in the nation-state that supposedly leads the world in greenness and sustainability. If they can’t sell it in uber-green California, maybe they should just give up on the event.
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