Turn it Off

I’m starting to think that the fastest way we Americans could help reduce global warming is by just turning stuff off when it’s not in use. I’m a bicyclist and I can’t begin to count the number of people I ride by who are sitting in parked cars, talking on their cell phones — with their engines running. Folks, you are getting zero miles per gallon!

We could do a lot just by turning lights off when they’re not in use. How many rooms in your home are lit up at night with nobody using them? In post-production, we leave the juice on way more than we need to. Do you leave all the lights on in your cutting rooms when you go to lunch? Or when you go home at night? Lots of people leave their whole editing setup on 24/7.

Last year Canon estimated that about 44 million kilowatt-hours of electricity would be wasted in Great Britain by leaving office equipment on standby over the ten-day Christmas holiday. The price for all those machines doing nothing was estimated to be about $17 million, or about 19,000 tons of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere.

Yes, I’ve heard that hard drives last longer if they’re never turned off. Maybe so. But drives are a lot more reliable now than they used to be. It’s hard to believe that turning a drive off a few hundred times a year makes much of a difference, when Seagate says their drives can easily go to 100,000 stop/start cycles. Could take a while to use that up.

Maybe it’s time for us editors to start turning things off at night. We could save a lot of watt-hours, and these days we need to do as much of that as we can.

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5 Comments on “Turn it Off”

  1. christopher Says:

    whenever i encounter these ideas, i always wonder – isn’t this like spitting into the ocean? it depresses me when i take my time and energy to keep my lights off, my car running clean, etc., and then learn that 80% of the pollution comes from 10% of the worst offending cars on the road.

    so when folks suggest doing more my reaction is – why not address the most egregious sources first? the impact would be significantly more. getting a few bad cars off the road, or getting some big industries to be more efficient, would negate the need for billions of individuals to turn of a light for a few hours.

  2. L.R. Pebler Says:

    I respectfully disagree, Christopher, and applaud you Steve. There are so many small ways we can help that are literally no trouble at all. So why not do them? No one’s asking you to stop driving or heating your home, but not turning the lights (and Avids!) off when you’re not in the room is just plain lazy.

  3. christopher Says:

    unfortunately laziness is a matter of perception, not fact. one person’s convenience is another’s laziness. our use of energy and resources is considered profligate even by the standards of my parents who grew up in england during wwII.

    lazy is a characterization – not a quantization of effect. if i turn out a light so you don’t think im lazy, but the eventual effect is that we both feel smugly confident that we’re good human beings as the earth dives into an early ice-age because it makes no net effect on the planet, what has been accomplished?

  4. Rainer Says:

    The difference between the mega-polluters and each of us is that we have 100% control over what we do, and next to none over what the mega-polluters do.

    I picture myself at heaven’s gate, being confronted with the humonguous pile of trash I have produced during my life-time, and being asked to dispose of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not religious, but I think one’s lives should be lived so that they can stand up to some sort of reckoning.

    Apart from that, I think even doing the smallest things has the potential to further awareness in a really low-key way, and I like that.

  5. christopher Says:

    of course, to continue your analogy…

    you get to heaven and when asked to recite your good behaviors you proudly point to how much you cared about the good earth the lord gave us to tend and lament it’s destruction by those careless others.

    and they’ll look at you fondly with smiling eyes and say, “but that was a sandbox. you were *supposed* to play in it. didn’t you ever hear the parable of the talents?” ;)


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