With the climate summit in Copenhagen now finished, I wanted to make a few comments about a trend that really annoys me. I'm fairly "green oriented" in my outlook but amongst "green" scientists and advocates, there is an endless desire to make each cause sound much stronger than the facts permit. I think this does their support more harm than good. The recent expose on modified emails bore that out only too well but I want to show a few simpler examples.
In Australia, we're encouraged to reduce our power consumption. This seems a great goal. One way of doing this is to install solar power heating. For a country like Australia that's not short on sunshine, you'd think that's a no-brainer. What annoys me though is how the message is pushed. We're endlessly told it will "save us money". This is based on logic like:
1. You buy a solar hot water system
2. You use $30 less electricity every quarter
3. Therefore the unit pays for itself
This logic can only appeal to people that don't get that money costs money. If I pay $3000 to have a unit installed, I've lost an opportunity of more than $30 every quarter. Worse, if I borrow money to purchase it (on a credit card), I'll be paying at least $150 per quarter in interest on that $3000.
I'm keen to see solar units installed across the country. But please don't apply bogus mathematics to justify it. Much better to just tell us: "it'll cost you money but you'll be doing your part to help".
Water Saving Devices
Another annoying one is water-saving shower heads. The logic works something like:
1. Four people in the house take a 10 minute shower each day.
2. A 5 star shower head reduces water flow to 54%
3. Fitting one will save 46% of the water used for showers.
Seems simple logic???
What is completely ignored is that showers with water-saving shower heads are often longer than with standard shower heads. I did some testing at my house. I actually use *less* water with a zero-star shower head than with a five-star one. Why? Because the ultra-green heating unit feeding it doesn't get working properly until the water has been flowing for some time, so I have to turn it on for a while before I can get into it. Then, the low flow makes it harder to use for cleaning (most people have experienced the need to run around in a five star shower just to get wet). Washing hair, etc. takes much longer with a "green" shower head and so on.
All the five star shower head does is cause me to use more water, to have a lousy shower and waste a bunch of time. It's not as simple as the bogus mathematics used to support it.