Turn off the lights to save the climate – ya right!

December 8, 2007

Now we’ve had it all, after Rock concerts to save our precious planet (I heard some of the artists still insisted on flying to their show in their own private jet) a major German newspaper and a bunch of willing followers have initiated 5 symbolic minutes in which everybody is asked to turn off their light. While the positive effect for the climate of this action may be zero to none (or even less) and the symbolic factor similarly negligible as Live Earth was it might be interesting to see what happens if – let’s say – 10 million German households joined in an turned off their lights (let’s say 5 lightbulbs, at 60 watts each = 300 watts/household). These 3,000,000,000 watts less energy comsumption shouldn’t be a major problem. Worst thing that could happen is, that German power plants will turn down a gear and produce less energy, because less is needed. This however will only be true up to the moment when 10 million German households decide to switch their lights back on after the five symbolic minutes have passed. 3,000 mega watts is right about the amount of energy the German energy providers have in store for sudden fluctuations in its net consumption. The sudden increase could now cause a total blackout. (source: Die Welt, I don’t take responsibility for inaccurate physics, especially for the inaccurate use of the word energy, but the mathematics should be right about right :)) This blackout however might even have positive effects for our climate (two hours of no light at all should save some CO2).
If you want to know how to do it the right way: http://www.wir-klimaretter.de/lichtan/