29 August 2009

Top Gear Lays Out Some Truth

Some important points from the fellows on Top Gear, one at the beginning and another at the very end:

(1) No one ever factors in the initial energy required to build these things.

That energy use is out of sight and out of mind. This is what I said about it last summer: "You will likely consume less energy if you purchase a used Camry rather than a new Prius, because manufacturing the Prius is intensive work. But if you drive the Camry around you look like an average schmuck, while driving the Prius marks you as a true believer."

(2) How you drive matters more than what you drive.

I picked up some advice from an old British engineer back in undergrad: "Change your habits before you change your kit." Very wise advice, and it applies to all sorts of things. He was talking about a nuclear fuel recycling plant, but it also means you switch to diet coke and start taking the stairs before you buy a bunch of home gym equipment and new track shoes. So before you rush out to get that Prius, quit the jackrabbit starts, use the cruise control, and stop tailgating. Seriously. Stop your damn tailgating. Not only will you save yourself gas, you'll make it easier for everyone else to drive in a way that saves them gas.

Other British environmental news, via Matt Johnson:
The Met Office has caused a storm of controversy after it was revealed their £30million supercomputer designed to predict climate change is one of Britain's worst polluters. The massive machine - the UK's most powerful computer with a whopping 15 million megabytes of memory - was installed in the Met Office's headquarters in Exeter, Devon.

It is capable of 1,000 billion calculations every second to feed data to 400 scientists and uses 1.2 megawatts of energy to run - enough to power more than 1,000 homes

The machine was hailed as the 'future of weather prediction' with the ability to produce more accurate forecasts and produce climate change modelling. However the Met Office's HQ has now been named as one of the worst buildings in Britain for pollution - responsible for more than 12,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.

It says 75 per cent of its carbon footprint is produced by the super computer meaning the machine is officially one of the country's least green machines.
Send in the clowns.

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