Halifax, Dartmouth and Nova Scotia Pathetic in Earth Hour 2009… Watt Hour???

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Please click here for the 2010 Earth Hour Results

Nova Scotians showed our traditionalism at its best with nothing short of a pathetic effort during Earth Hour in 2009. Pictures from Halifax-Dartmouth shown below provide some evidence. Statistics from Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) were as dark as Nova Scotia should have been, obscured in ambiguity without context. By action, Nova Scotians’ response to participation in Earth Hour was a resounding Watt Hour?

According to NSPI, Nova Scotian power usage dropped “15 megawatts or the equivalent of 1,153,845 13 watt compact fluorescent light bulbs” (CFLs). No other context was given so let’s start with some questions.

NSPI Earth Hour 2009 Results screen capture, provided because the link in the text may not yield the quoted information long after Mar 28 2009 because its URL indicated it was for the top story regarding Energy Efficiency, not a dedicated page to Earth Hour. The next story in the category would conveniently sweep this one into the dark matters of cyberspace.

NSPI Earth Hour 2009 Results screen capture, provided because the above link in the text may not yield the quoted information long after Mar 28 2009. The story's URL indicated it was for the top story regarding Energy Efficiency, not Earth Hour. The next story in the category would bump this one elsewhere.

First, dropped from what? A seasonal average? This date last year? And what percentage was saved? 15 megawatters (MW) out of 1,500MW rather than 150MW are very different outcomes (1% versus 10%).

Mar 30 update: It was a one percent (1%) reduction [Toronto Star, Mar 30 4:30 AM].

Second, it was a relatively balmy 2 to 5 degrees Celcius at 9 pm tonight, the warmest in a while and well over the -2.6 degree Celcius mean temperature for March 2008 [Environment Canada]. How much of that power saving was due to less heat required rather than lights going out? NSPI can’t be expected to report this precisely, but they should have data to estimate it. If they don’t, Nova Scotians should worry.

Third, big buildings and structures like the bridges in Halifax-Dartmouth probably accounted for a good chunk of the 15MW reduction. Their lights aren’t exactly small power consumers. Despite being in this all together, perhaps something about what the general public contributed would help to give an idea of the effort. NSPI must recognize residential and commercial accounts in their billings. However, to give credit where it’s due, NSPI did get the information up online just hours after Earth Hour was over.

Fourth, was this progress? Fortunately, I found last year’s result to be 8MW in reduction [Cape Breton Post] so this year’s 15MW reduction was almost twice as good. For that, let’s take a second to say “hip hip hurrah”, but then move on because looking at the bigger context and rating progress against our Canadian neighbours (see below), our results were pathetic.

Using NSPI’s figures, for our population of about 0.95 million, I can calculate that each Nova Scotian saved about 16W during Earth hour. Watts isn’t the proper way to express energy savings scientifically, by the way, but we’ll save the science for another time and just work with it as is for simplicity of comparison.

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How did Nova Scotia do compared to the rest of Canada for Earth Hour?

Ontario, outside of Toronto, saved 920 MW or 6%, from typical demand, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and CTV Toronto. At a population of 12.9 million, that’s 71W per person for the hour or 4.5X the amount Nova Scotians saved. Temperature ranged from 7 to -10 degrees Celcius so they probably didn’t save as much for heat as we did, either, with us at 2 to 5 degrees.

Live reports on the CBC television at the time of this post (1:40AM Sun Mar 29) claimed Toronto chipped in for 452 MW or 82W per person for the hour if you use the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population of 5.5 million instead of 2.48 million for just Toronto [City of Toronto]. CTV Toronto puts this at a 15.2% reduction, up from 8.7% last year. If you use the latter population figure, they saved 182W per person for the hour, which would not be surprising given the large number of businesses and landmarks which are major consumers of power at night who participated. Regardless, that’s 5.1X or 11.5X the amount Nova Scotians saved, pending the number you choose, which is irrelevant for comparative purposes because of the big gap in either case. It was 11 degrees Celcius in Toronto at the time, much warmer than our 2 to 5 degrees or so, but that wouldn’t be nearly enough to account for the disparity between the two performances. Nor will I believe any claim that denizens at the “centre of the universe” using more power than the typical Nova Scotians as being sufficient to close the gap much, either.

Mar 30 update: Nova Scotia sat at a 1% reduction, but so did Newfoundland and Labrador, and the much touted environmentally friendly British Columbia. Calgary reported a small drop but was not quantified. Manitoba saw an increase but did not officially participate to get the word and encouragement out to the public. It was also rather cold that night at -8 degree Celcius and -13 windchill. Temperatures in other places were not reported for consideration of heat influence from Earth Hour night compared to other years or regular patterns [Toronto Star, Mar 30 4:30 AM].

Despite these relative comparisons to show we had “company” in our performance range, it does nothing to change my view on Halifax, Dartmouth and Nova Scotia’s performance. We can definitely do much better and should strive for it in years after this [ some tips for greater reductions ].

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Pictures from Halifax-Dartmouth showed very little noticeable effort

Seeing very little noticeable effort during Earth Hour from my downtown apartment window, I ventured up Citadel Hill, the high point in the landscape of Halifax and Dartmouth, to see if I just had a bad “sampling”. I also walked around the hill and downtown a bit and saw I didn’t. About the only noticeable structures I saw turned off from the hill were:

  • Angus MacDonald bridge floodlights turned off;
  • Nova Scotia Power building turned off for the most part;
  • City Hall; and
  • Aliant Building.

Good for them all, but can you believe that was pretty much it? The Metro Centre’s advertising board was lit up brightly as usual, practically lighting up its side of Citadel Hill. The BDC building, Homburg building, Town Clock and such were also all lit up. Participation in apartment buildings I could see weren’t great, either. However, I only documented with pictures of Dartmouth below because I did not have the night lens required for a wide view of Halifax, where you couldn’t identify the “guilty” parties. I wasn’t out to point fingers.

However, Ryan Taplin’s photo in the Metro [Mar 30] of the Downtown Halifax skyline showed it was beautifully LIT UP like a Christmas Tree during Earth Hour! UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL!

But before I present the pictures, I’m going to challenge Nova Scotians to do better next year because, frankly, I’m ashamed! If you’re Nova Scotian and reading this, you should be, too, even if you did your part like I did! I shared some tips for what to do, and other Canadians also shared their activities on the CBC. And I’m also going to call out NSPI to provide better reporting instead of sounding like a politician.

Compare the pictures below to CBC’s Toronto Earth Hour gallery of what a truly participating location should look like during Earth Hour and see the difference!

Click on all photos below to see enlarged versions.

What were your observations for Nova Scotia’s Earth Hour efforts?

Looking at Downtown Dartmouth, note the MacDonald bridge flood lights off during Earth Hour and on again after it

Looking at Downtown Dartmouth, note the MacDonald bridge flood lights off during Earth Hour and on again after it. Notice the minimal difference and building in the foreground practically all lit up. By fluke, a piece of Caution tape was fluttering in the wind and got in the way of the bottom photo at left, causing a slightly dark strip where there should not have been one... but I can't redo the photo now.

Dartmouth North End, dockyards and MacDonald bridge, showing the MacDonald bridge floodlights off and on

Dartmouth North End, dockyards and MacDonald bridge, showing the MacDonald bridge floodlights off and on during and after Earth Hour. The slight increase in brightness from the bottom photo is an exposure error, not that the lights were brighter after Earth Hour.

Looking towards the road to Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage during and after Earth Hour. There may not be many homes here, but whatever the sources of the lights, there was practically no difference during Earth Hour. (click to enlarge)

Looking towards the road to Cole Harbour and Eastern Passage during and after Earth Hour. There may not be many homes here, but whatever the sources of the lights, there was practically no difference during Earth Hour.

Dartmouth straight across from downtown Halifax, as seen between the NSPI (Duke Tower) and CIBC buildings from atop Citadel Hill during and after Earth Hour (click to enlarge)

Dartmouth straight across from downtown Halifax, as seen between the NSPI and CIBC buildings from atop Citadel Hill during and after Earth Hour. The top photo was over exposed to make it seem the lights were brighter during Earth Hour, but there was no difference.

Halifax

Looking to the south side of Dartmouth, just north of the refineries in Dartmouth which, of course, were not shut down. Nothing here seemed turned off, either.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 8.9

2 thoughts on “Halifax, Dartmouth and Nova Scotia Pathetic in Earth Hour 2009… Watt Hour???

  1. hey, Halifax such a tiny city is always in darkness at night. Dartmouth? Duh~
    Even if all lights are up in the city, it’s still darker than any other cities like Toronto and Vancouver =]
    Whether or not they participate Earth hour, there’s no significant difference between during and after the event.

    • Big, I’m going to call you out on a bad attitude.

      We might be small in Halifax, but if you take that attitude, then why should you, I, or anybody else care to do anything? We’re each insignificant, or rather negligible, in the grand scheme of things, if you’re going to look at our impact as a statistical impact on the whole. But if none of us ever does anything, we’re in HUGE trouble.

      What is going to make environmentalism work is a concerted effort by as many of us as possible. We need to each do our part for this to work. If enough of us doesn’t do anything, we’re all doomed. Problem is, nobody knows how many of us is “enough”, and we can’t take that chance on the one planet we have as a home.

      And for those “free-riding” by letting the others do the work environmentally? Hey, well, they’ll pay for it, too, one way or another. They don’t get to live in cleaner air, or will be able to buy a new planet for themselves, and taxes like fees on recycling, etc. also applies to them when they buy anything. Might as well buy in and not be hated by everyone else for it.

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