Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Live-blogging E-Day

I just checked BBC News and found out about E-Day. In the face of criticism for bias and politicisation and with poor audience figures for Live Earth the BBC pulled the plug on 'Planet Relief'. One part of Planet Relief was to be twenty-four hours in which everyone tried to save energy. This part was kept in business by the determination of Matt Prescott - campaigner for low energy light bulbs among other things - who dreamed up the scheme.

As a result E-Day started at six this evening. It has a glowing write-up on BBC News Online, the support of the Bishop of London - of all people, energy companies and various environmental pressure groups. Power use will be monitored by the National Grid and compared to their business as usual predictions (which should be very good, if they get them too wrong we get blackouts).

Things aren't exactly going well:

They've actually managed to increase energy usage. Ouch!

We'll check back later.

9.40pm: Total "savings" so far are at -1.2%. E-Day is still making things worse! What will we do?

It's about as important as it would have been if things had gone well, i.e. not very. UK electricity generation is a tiny percentage of global emissions.

9.50pm: Bishop Hill has some background on the BBC's support for this farce.

10.58pm: 1.8% total increase in electricity use! Also, apparently this is a 'moral issue'. The Church of England continues its drive to become the religious wing of the BBC.

Midnight: We're a quarter of the way through and so far E-Day has seen 2% higher energy use than expected under 'business as usual'. This is proving about as successful as when anti-capitalists stage one of their periodical 'don't buy things' days.

9.00am: Over half way now and energy use is still 1.3% up on business as usual. It is running 4.4% above business as usual use right now so things are only going to get worse. How long before Dr. Prescott holds an angry, expletive-laden press conference?

2.30pm: Only 0.8% up now. Maybe they'll break even?

4.30pm: Still up 0.7%. They don't have long now. A correspondent from an American think-tank has a suggestion:

"Wouldn’t it be more effective to encourage people to turn on everything they can? The surge in demand could cause a massive blackout, which would force people to use a lot less power for awhile."

Sensible policies for a happier Britain.

9.30pm: I'm back - missed the big moment but checked it on my mobile. Sure enough, they've increased electricity consumption.

What can I say? Except:

9.35pm: Freeborn John smells a rat. I agree with him that the dissapearance of the early excess consumption is very suspicious. It is hard to explain why the pattern in the early hours would look so different at the end compared to when it was actually happening. Also - in terms of anecdotal evidence from watching the meter - the live usage bar always seemed to be running an excess higher than the average, which shouldn't happen. Still, surely they wouldn't rig it that brazenly?

00:30: They've updated the site with this message:

"E-Day did not succeed in cutting the UK's electricity demand. The drop in temperature between Wed 27 Feb and Thurs 28 Feb days probably caused this, as a result of more lights and heating being left on than were originally predicted. The National Grid refined their assessments, based on actual weather data, during Thursday afternoon but I am afraid that E-Day did not achieve the scale of public awareness or participation needed to have a measurable effect. I will do my best to learn the relevant lessons for next time. Thank you to everyone who helped me or left something off specially as their contribution to E-Day, and this Leave It Off experiment. Please enjoy E-Day's solution, video and science sections which all worked well. Warmest regards, Matt"

A few points:

1 - If the temperature had been unexpectedly mild would they have updated the prediction?

2 - How exactly do you define "worked well"?

3 - "Next time"? You've got to be shitting me.

Still, I'm impressed he managed to avoid the term "climate criminals" or call for us to be sent to Climate Camp.


Anonymous said...


More about E-day at my place.

Anonymous said...

surely the government could have arranged a power-cut or bureaucratic snafu to make sure they hit their target?!

Mr Eugenides said...

This is a delight. Please maintain the coverage.

I'm switching off now.

Anonymous said...

Earlier today the BBC's homepage was dominated by links to various E-DAY-related items. Now that it has become clear the whole exercise has been a laughable failure, links have vanished from both the BBC's home and news pages, and reference to this pathetic wankfest is now found only on the science/nature section. I am most amused.

Scandrett said...

As DB says, if you didn't know it was on; you'd never find it on the website.

I also rather like the fact that the same journo who wrote up the glowing e-day puffery has written (or be made to write) a glowing report on all the hard work the grid and power companies do to keep us warm and toasty, and that IS on the news homepage!

Mr Eugenides said...

Oh, mercy. I haven't laughed so much in months.

E-Day is the gift that just keeps on giving.

Peter Risdon said...

Something might be a bit rum.

Anonymous said...

We're all climate criminals now!