Thursday, 19 April 2018

What If Everyone Turned off Their Lights at the Same Time?

What if everyone turned off their lights for an hour?

The good old days before electricity. Did we actually have it better before that first power plant started running? What if everyone on earth tried getting by with all their lights turned off?

We'd start the challenge with a perfect Earth hour. 60 Minutes of complete darkness with no artificial lights allowed. Would be able to reduce light illusion and be able to see the milky way galaxy? How much electricity would we save? And would it help us to fight climate change?

This is What will happen:

 Humanity has spent the last 100 years increasing our dependence on electricity. Look around, your computer, microwave, fridge, elevator, traffic lights, public transportation, everything lies on electric power.

Going completely without power, even for an hour, would be pretty uncomfortable. So let's just limit the humanity light usage. Hit the lights and let's begin.

On average, humanity consumes 62,000 terajoules of electricity per hour. That's the same amount of energy your gas car will need to drive to Pluto and come back. Twice!

One-fifth of all these energy goes towards lighting. That's a lot of energy and producing it means spewing a lot of carbon-di-oxide in the atmosphere.

Obviously, clean energy from the sun, wind and water don't affect the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. But it is a surprising fact that they only make up One-Third of global electricity production. The rest of it releases greenhouse gas emissions.

The thinking is if we gave up our power plants an hour break, we'd significantly reduce the emission at the global level.

What an easy way to fight climate change together. Or is it?

Turns out, it is rather complicated. If this worldwide earth hour caught you at night, getting by with the light of some cosy candles is not the right solution.
Not only they are 100 times less efficient than your light bulb, but guess what? They also emit CO2.

In theory, you can even the score by using 1 light bulb for 1 candle, but if you use twice as many candles, you'd actually be emitting more CO2.

What if you didn't light any candles? You might think that we will emit less CO2 in the atmosphere, but you would be wrong again because that's not how power plants work.

The coal-burning ones will, in fact, release less CO2 in the air during the dark hours. But then everyone will turn their lights back on. For power stations, these sudden increase in demand would mean firing up more generators. As a result, they will emit even more CO2.

The extra carbon waste will try to trap more heat in our lower atmosphere, which will alter climate change and that's if power plants will able to cope up with such a demand. In a worst-case scenario, they would need to perform an emergency shutdown, leaving us with no electricity for days.

When that happens, you will at least be able to enjoy the milky way galaxy at night, a view that pollution prevents one-third of the population from not seeing it.
So maybe you shouldn't plunge yourself in darkness. There are better ways to fight Climate Change than turning off all the lights at the same time.

For starters, you can try to replace your incandescent electricity bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Or you can just use more public transport.

What will you do to reduce your carbon footprints? 


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