Search Engine Energy Consumption

Until now, it was a rarely pondered question: Between the virtual bookends of someone searching for revealing pictures of Lindsay Lohan online and a search engine producing said pictures, how much energy is consumed?

The answer: Not Much.

The Globe and Mail ran this interesting colour piece on the energy consumption of performing an internet search.

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Turn off your lights on March 29th

On March 29, 2008 at 8 p.m., join millions of people around the world in making a statement about climate change by turning off your lights for Earth Hour, an event created by the World Wildlife Fund.Earth Hour was created by WWF in Sydney, Australia in 2007, and in one year has grown from an event in one city to a global movement. In 2008, millions of people, businesses, governments and civic organizations in nearly 200 cities around the globe will turn out for Earth Hour. More than 100 cities across North America will participate, including the US flagships–Atlanta, Chicago, Phoenix and San Francisco and Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

Earth Hour US – Earth Hour 2008

Earth Hour 2008 is tomorrow at 8 pm. Hit the lights and chill for an hour.

Vancouver is listed as one of the major cities that will be participating. I’m really hoping that having a downtown view of the entire city in the dark will be an interesting spectacle.

Dryer Balls

I bought a set of Dryer Balls a few months back to try out in the laundry. So far, so good. They work almost as well as a regular dryer sheet (90% effectiveness) and I don’t have to pick up dryer sheets from the store anymore.

The biggest reason that people buy these things, though, is that they are supposed to be environmentally friendly. The idea is that by using the blue rubber balls instead of dryer sheets you are [1] saving trees from being cut down to make the sheets, and [2] saving the toxins in the fabric softener from entering the watershed (either upon the next wash, or upon disposal of the sheet).

Turns out, there are some additional negative side effects to the things. According to treehugger.com:

What the manufacturers fail to mention, however, is that the the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material the supposedly “nontoxic” dryer balls are made of is one of the most poisonous plastics ever created, posing great environmental and health hazards in its manufacture, product life, and disposal.

Yet another green alternative that ain’t that green. The unfortunate part of the current green movement is realizing that nothing we do really has a small impact on the world around us. Maybe one product is better than another during it’s lifecycle, but what about upon disposal, or during manufacturing? Perhaps the product is a traditionally poor product for sustainability, but it’s sourced from better materials than others.

Doesn’t hurt to keep trying though.

I figure I’ll keep the dryer balls I have for now – I can’t see any evidence that using the product is harmful, only manufacturing and disposal – as I figure it’s better to keep using it now that it’s been made and purchased. If anyone else is considering something similar, that’s a canadian product called Fluff Balls that are supposedly a little better. They are made from wool. Don’t let the website fool you, they are actually about $25 for purchase.

Also, some people have reporting getting good results from tennis balls.