Greta Thunberg lives a relatively austere life and urges us to do likewise, but do people really know how much their daily habits impact on the world?
In Britain we do things like keep shops very hot in winter and leave the door enticingly open. This uses lots of electricity and also raises the temperature of the surroundings. Some people have the central heating on but leave a window open ‘a crack’ for fresh air, which ruins all the attempts to make sure that your house isn’t leaking heat.
People in general still don’t know how much power appliances use; vacuum cleaners are very power hungry as are kettles, power drills or almost anything with a motor. Power washers for your car make the job easier but do you really NEED to use one? Would it matter if your house was only vacuum cleaned once a fortnight? Or your washing done only when you have a full load? Tidying up and dusting don’t use power and washing a few things by hand only requires enough power to heat the water. Boiling only enough water for the job you have in mind isn’t hard either.
Unfortunately all these small changes don’t eat very far into your carbon footprint if you are a heavy internet user. If you play power intensive games or download films then you are putting the brakes on the UK’s attempts to become carbon neutral. According to Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University, streaming one film uses the same power as boiling nearly 10 kettles. ‘Internet use and online services underpin everyday life, and the resultant energy demand is almost entirely hidden, yet significant and growing: it is anticipated to reach 21% of global electricity demand by 2030 and to eclipse half the greenhouse gas emissions of transportation by 2040’
The actual research paper is available here but if you’d rather have an easy to read format The Times did an interview or you could read about it in the Daily Mail if you don’t subscribe to The Times!
Perhaps we need to get this information over to all the young people who are environmetally aware, or the advocates for climate change awareness in general. Every time you don’t use your phone or tablet for entertainment, or for unnecessary chat, is one step towards cutting CO2 output.