Looked at a food waste post on Metafilter, it didn't even get half a dozen comments before someone came in all IT'S A CORPORATE ISSUE THERE'S NO POINT CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR WE NEED TO CROSS OUR FINGERS AND WAIT A FEW DECADES FOR SYSTEMIC REFORM and oh my god who do you think started that meme? Why does it keep popping out of American mouths on any post about the environment? Someone did a heck of a job convincing you all of your powerlessness.

Honestly if you lot keep banging on about DEMAND TOP-DOWN CHANGE while you keep leaving the sodding lights and fans on in empty rooms, buying crap new appliances and phones every five minutes, chucking away a third of your food, nothing's ever gonna change. The Republicans and Democrats are never, ever, ever, ever, EVER going to do anything about climate change, EVER. You have to FORCE change, individual actions DO matter, and whoever told you otherwise is invested in the status quo.

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I mean cripes let's take electricity generation for a start, let's see how much power you have over the corporation that keeps your lights on. Take a circuit with two lightbulbs wired in parallel and a hand-cranked generator - take one lightbulb out, the generator feels easier to turn, right? So if it's not you cranking it, if it's a pile of coal on fire boiling water to turn a turbine attached to that generator, then the generator's gonna turn faster, 'cause there's less slowing it down.

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Generators are designed to be operated at a set frequency, with very little variation. Likewise transformers! Every time you (yes YOU) change how much power you use, you change the RPM of those generators, and a mechanical or computerized governor has to alter the supply of fuel so that the generator keeps spinning at a constant speed. Because if it doesn't, if its speed drifts more than a little bit, you know what happens?


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So whenever you turn off a light, you're forcing the power company to burn less fuel.

Not asking them nicely, not suggesting it might make economic sense, not threatening with toothless legislation, not signing a petition - you're forcing them, PHYSICALLY FORCING them, on threat of literally burning their windings.

You've got power. Stop letting people tell you you haven't.

· · SubwayTooter · 2 · 3 · 4

@ifixcoinops Not strictly true. Electricity generators always try to maintain some amount of overhead to deal with demand surges, and power stations still run at similar capacity at night irrespective of demand because once turbines are running stopping them and restarting is more expensive and risky.

But it's approximately true that if the whole population uses less electricity then power stations will adjust their output accordingly.

Full disclosure: I worked at coal fired power stations in the 1990s and I assume that not much about how they operate has fundamentally changed, although the SCADA systems might be newer now.

@ifixcoinops all good ideas!

You also control demand for the source of power.
Mine is 100% renewable electricity and carbon offset gas.

Sure it might not directly impact the coal generators, but indirectly it reduces the demand on them and shows that that form of generation isn't wanted.

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