@vpostrel @TNR apparently the fact that the Internet requires electricity to send this stuff is lost on them.
— Scott Welch (@scott_welch_) December 24, 2014
TNR morphed from a fairly sensible center-left publication to a clone of Salon and Slate so quickly, I hardly even noticed. But the Website, revamped under the new ownership of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has noticed that during the Christmas holidays, things really are brighter, and they’re vexed by this notion. Terribly vexed:
Two years ago, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy reported that of the eight types of outdoor lighting it studied in 2010—”building exterior, airfield, billboard, railway, stadium, traffic signals, parking and roadway”—over 178 million individual lamps were in use, up from 73 million in 2002. The Astronomical Observatory at Florida Atlantic University has also done extensive research on nighttime lighting. It found that in 2012, more than 35 billion kilowatts per hour (KWh) were used in “estimated wasted outdoor lighting”—considered to be “lights that are on where not needed or where no one is around to use them, on when they are not needed, or are directed upwards where no one can use them”—and it cost consumers $3.4 billion.
It’s possible to estimate the cost of holiday lighting on an individual level—a handful of websites provide calculators. But to get an idea of energy usage and cost increases between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’ll have to wait until NASA releases data on the 2014 holiday season, at which point it’s likely that universities and government agencies, not NASA, will study the implications.
As Twitter user Scott Welch writes in his reply to Virginia Postrel’s link to TNR’s article, you know what else uses plenty of energy, lights, and air conditioning? The server farms that Facebook and TNR run on. I look forward to the folks at TNR running a “study” on how much electricity, lighting and freon is consumed during that process.
Ordinarily, this is the time where I insert my usual rejoinder to what Virginia aptly calls leftwing environmental puritanism and call on TNR that if they want to walk the walk, they really need to set an example for the rest of us and close up shop first, if they perceive that “global warming / cooling climate change / climate chaos” is so dire that the rest of us need to turn off our Christmas lights and transform America into the second coming of North Korea at night.
Fortunately though in this case, TNR is for once far ahead of the curve:
BREAKING: Mass resignations just submitted at @TNR Full list… pic.twitter.com/SdM0VPQ8Et
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) December 5, 2014
Faster please — do it for Gaia’s sake, fellas.
Related: “David Brooks Calls New Republic Owner Chris Hughes ‘Callow And Incompetent,'” the HuffPo notes. I’m not at all sure if Brooks meant that as an insult or not, given his prior track record with callow and incompetent members of the far left.