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Alias (5735)

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Journal of Alias (5735)

Wednesday October 11, 2006
09:11 AM

Going green (ish)

[ #31292 ]

I went to see Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" mainly to see if I could pick up any new presentation tricks to make my talks better. Anyone that does a talk 800 or so times must have picked up a few neat things.

And I'm happy to say I've nabbed a couple of tricks from him, that I hope to try out soon.

I also realised, seeing it, that now I'm paying my own electricity bill it's about time I at least compensated for the carbon used powering my apartment and PCs.

I'm also going to have a stab at seeing if I can justify "neutralising" my flights as well. Along with getting an apartment where I have an underground station on the same block and so no need for a car, that at least takes care of my ongoing carbon budget (well, except for respiration, but I'm not sure how to calculate that).

Of course this doesn't take into account all the stuff I have to buy to fit out this apartment (fridge, washing machine, furniture) not to mention work equipment (laptops, desktops and so on). I do try to at least limit the things I own (I'm quite like the minimalist style, much less to clean) and the number of machines I run, although in the computing case that's as much because I am the World's Worst Sysadmin. Hardware and I haven't got on very well since University.

I ended up going through a third party (accredited) carbon credit trading group to buy my energy. The math of carbon trading gets a bit complex admittedly, but I've taken for an option where 25% are forced to be sourced from new Australian accredited Green Power wind and 75% sourced from New Zealand Gold Standard wind energy carbon credits (which are currently about half the price of domestic green energy credits here at the moment).

So after all the math is done, in effect I'm directly donating a reasonably small but appropriate amount of money each quarter (plus big chunks if I can afford to absorb the carbon cost for flights to the US or UK) to help build new wind power capacity in Australia and New Zealand, and I'm cool with that.

Personally I find the wind power generators quite pretty, in a sort of sci-fi or Total Annihilation way. They demonstrate the sort of engineering beauty you get from structures where the form perfectly follows their function.

I went with third-party carbon credits in the end because it was simply too hard to do it through the power company, primarily because they are so incredibly coy about what it will cost.

You can get your power costs (at least roughly) in cents per kilowatt hours, but the additional premium for green power is measure in "dollars per week for the average home".

How the hell am I supposed to make an informed judgement when I can't just make a simple comparison and see it costs 25% more, and go ahead on that basis.

It's no wonder that most of the people signing up for green power in this country are doing it at lowest (10% green power) level. I've gone with 100% from the third party group, but I'd sure as hell hesitate to take 100% option with my power company, because I have no idea how much extra changes I'm in for.

Beaurocracy and this sort of crazy math just plain suck.

But what about you (assuming that you can afford it of course).

I'm now at least doing my part to cover the basics, what about you guys?

(Let's ignore the stale "does warming exist" please. It legally exists here now, so I'm obliged to believe in it) :)

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  • Hm, while we've got a regular contract with our local power dealer (electricity and gas (for heating and cooking)), at least the electricity should be mostly "green" (i.e. C02 neutral). Most of the power in Austria is generated by water power plants.

    I haven't got a car (or a driving license...) and do nearly all of my daily traveling on my bike (about 50km per week, most of the year (unless it's raining very heavily or there is fresh snow on the streets). The rest is done with public transport.

    I try to avoi

  • Good for you, Adam! I've found that as long as you are conscious of energy consumption, it's not too hard to reduce bit-by-bit.

    A few of my personal choices:
      * Own one car for 6 of us, including my in-laws
      * Compact fluorescent bulbs everywhere
      * Bike to work as often as possible
      * Bus when biking is not feasible
      * Subscribe to a local farm for produce
      * Pay $5/month wind energy subsidy to power company
      * Unplug rarely-used electronics (e.g. VCR)
      * Buy
    • Well, I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to go quite as far as you guys... :)

      Because I'm in an apartment, I can't really compost or air-dry clothing (since the latter is against the rules, no hanging of clothing outside) and the farm thing is out (central city location).

      The apartment comes with flurescent lights already (not normal lightbulb shape).

      And the appliances are new, but it was the only reasonable choice in this particular situation.

      As usual, I'm just trying to keep things in mind, while making it
  • Just wanted to get your attention. :-)

    What I really wanted to say is that whether or not global warming is caused by man, I don't believe that any of these measures to have "green" energy are worth anything. We'd do a lot better to put our efforts into nuclear power, or researching better advances in power than the same old "green" technologies that aren't poised to really solve anything, except maybe guilty consciences. ;)
    • The trouble with nuclear power is that it isn't a renewable resource either.

      At some point, we are fundamentally limited by the total solar radiation hitting the planet.

      These wind power initiatives generate genuine long term results, they do it immediately, they can be developed incrementally with low lead time, have none of the safety issues, use almost no land (since you can continue to use them as farm land in the NZ example), have no waste products whatsoever, don't require any water for steam, and since
      • Another indefinitely renewable resource: geothermal. The drawback is that it’s harder to exploit than wind as it requires digging up the place. On the other hand, it’s not subject to seasonal or meteorological variations. For a great instant introduction read Malcolm Gladwell’s post about it [typepad.com].

        Of course, the ultimate source of energy would be The Other nuclear power: sustained H fusion. It too is fundamentally more limited on Earth than tapping the solar output, of course, but it’s a

      • The trouble with nuclear power is that it isn't a renewable resource either.

        It doesn't need to be. It will last us a very long time.

        These wind power initiatives generate genuine long term results, they do it immediately, they can be developed incrementally with low lead time ....

        And they provide only a fraction of the energy that other methods produce, and while they take up "almost no land" they WOULD have to take up a TON of land in order to provide the same level of output. I am not against wind power,