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The Caffeinated Geek Tech Obsessed in Winnipeg

I wonder if 'Earth Hour' actually changed anyone's behavior for more than an hour?  My family turned out the lights (Computer, TV, stereo, etc.) and played a board game by candle light.  We discussed the issue of energy consumption and how it contributes to global warming.  However, living in Winnipeg, our furnace was still burning natural gas the whole while.  And we used our van today to run out to the store as usual.

We try to be conscious of our energy consumption.  We turn lights out in rooms we aren't in (usually) and switched to a high efficiency furnace.  Almost all of our lights have been converted to compact fluorescent (they don't work well here outside).  We usually take the bus to work (even though there would be 2 of us in the van) and when it isn't -40 outside we generally walk to the store instead of driving.

But, it clearly isn't enough.  When you look closely, we have done all the things that we can without changing our lifestyle or making significant financial investment.  What's the next step?  Do we sell our car and only use public transportation?  This isn't very practical in Winnipeg where the public transit system is actually worse than the weather.  Bicycle is only practical for about 5 months of the year here.  Do we invest in solar panels to augment our electricity consumption from the grid?  Again, although we get a reasonable amount of sunshine, it is not intense during winter and there is the issue of keeping panels free from snow.  We do get a fair amount of wind but I'm not sure how practical a turbine in the backyard would be.

The other way to make a difference is to buy products manufactured and sourced from closer to home reducing transportation and thereby energy expended for transportation.  Consuming local produce limits variety as we don't have a favourable climate for many fruits or vegetables (especially all winter).  Many other household items are manufactured in China, India, Japan, etc.  All places that couldn't be much further away.

How does a gadget geek rationalize the 'habit' when almost every gadget has a very negative environmental impact?  I'm trying to be more selective in my purchases.  Do I really 'need' that gadget?  Could I get one from closer to home?  Does the supplier make any attempt to offset the impact of production/transportation?

The internal conflict will continue.  When I think about it, it's not me who will suffer from my poor decisions.  It will be my children or grandchildren.  I just hope they are smarter than we are and find a better balance between human desire for consumption and living sustainably. 


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Posted on Sunday, March 30, 2008 5:32 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Earth Hour 2008. Did you turn out the lights?

# re: Earth Hour 2008. Did you turn out the lights?
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Winnipeg is a tricky place to reduce consumption. It sounds like you are doing a lot (and congratulations on that). The major source of energy use in much of Canada is the house, and that may be a useful place to start. Have you had an energy audit? How is your insulation? Are your windows triple pane? Another useful item is solar heating to supplement your water heater (supposedly it works in winter, although I'd be amazed if it did anything at -40)

The news today was that Earth Hour reduced energy consumption in BC by 2%. It doesn't sound like a lot, but apparently BC Hydro did think it was significant.

The one thing I did to combine my natural gadget geekiness and caring was to buy a Kill-a-watt. This gadget lets you determine how much power various products use, so that you can either replace them, or limit their use. It was eye-opening, and is leading me to consider putting in enough solar to power my office, at the very least.

Anyway, congrats again, thank you, and carry on...
Left by Kent Sharkey on Mar 30, 2008 7:45 PM

# re: Earth Hour 2008. Did you turn out the lights?
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We did turn out the lights... even if I thought about it only at 8:20 ! Oooops
Like you said, I think this event is a lot more about education and sensibilization then actual efficiency. Don't presume that the little gestures you make don't make a diffirence. Think about all those little gestures put toghether and that's where it become interesting. And the more we're doing it, the more it become second nature. Our children won't even think on doing things differently since for them it will be THE way it has always been. Each of us might influence a family member, a neighbor, a friend. It's the sum of all those few decisions that can make a long term difference. And it sends out a clear message about the concern we have.

In an other aspect... think of it has if you would not even care. If each person sensitive about environnement would stop making those small efforts, instead of seeing small changes we would see things becoming worst !!!

I know I don't have to convice you. But I do believe that those small actions for the planet that we make are worth it. Even if taken seperatly they don't seems like much, they do add up. Same thing when we go shopping, it might be more difficult but often we have a choice that is a bit less "dammageable" then the other. If you take it, you just made a difference. Each time you choose to buy something made or grown in Manitoba or in Canada, you let the message that you value buying local. Knowing that the conditions under which they have been produce is a bit better then in third world country. Each time you buy a product that is Fare trade or organic, you make a difference in the life of someone, you make a difference in the soil it has been grown into. Each time you recycle or make home compost, you put less garbage to be bury... Yes I trully believe that everything even if we are not perfect or limited i the action we can make every action counts ! Specially since they're still not that many people doing it... yet. More and more care enough to take the time but not the majority. Some still hope to see there drive way grow by watering it desperatly !!!

OK I'm out the door ;-)
But it's ETs' fault he wanted me to reply to your post !!! lol

Take care
Left by Annick on Mar 31, 2008 12:56 PM

# re: Earth Hour 2008. Did you turn out the lights?
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Man - I'll feel a lot better driving down the road in my SUV knowing there are people like you out there. Keep it up!
Left by Ken H on Apr 16, 2008 7:24 AM

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