August 1, 2007

More sustainability swindling

"[Toby] Heap admitted the power "savings in real terms" were "very small", but insisted the site was about more than just saving power on internet searches.

"The point isn't about how much energy this on its own can save, it's about trying to get people to think about other ways to save energy and constantly think about making little changes to save energy," he said."

So claims Toby Heap, the Sydney-based makers of a so-called eco-friendly version of Google, which is supposedly helping to rescue the planet, but all that's being saved is the piles of money Heap is banking.

"Hundreds of thousands of searches a day are conducted by Blackle.com users, who use the search engine instead of Google because they believe they're doing their bit for the environment.

Its creator, Toby Heap, said Blackle.com - a custom version of Google with a black rather than a white background - could save thousands of watts of power a year because it took less juice for a monitor to display black than white."

Unfortunately, in these days of our Yettie-sized carbon footprint, there really are millions, even hundreds of millions of people who will believe anything, including that a black screen instead of a white one will save energy, or that a black search engine screen will subliminally prompt users into a never-ending quest for other cute and cuddly means by which to reduce their daily impact on the environment.

In truth:

"at the very least, supporters of a black-screen Google are overstating their power savings by about double. At worst, as CRT monitors are continually phased out in favour of LCD screens, the power consumption of a black-screen Google will actually be more than what we already have with the standard white Google."

Yet Heap continues to wiggle like the exploitative worm he is:

"Heap admitted the power "savings in real terms" were "very small", but insisted the site was about more than just saving power on internet searches."

Yes, it is about something more: it’s about making one clever bloke very rich off the gullibility of an increasingly brain-washed and acquiescent public.

"The point isn't about how much energy this on its own can save, it's about trying to get people to think about other ways to save energy and constantly think about making little changes to save energy"

Beaut! Except that Blackle.com isn't one of those "little changes" that contribute to energy savings, or behavioral changes. These are goals toward which Heap and his search engine are contributing absolutely nothing.

Quite obscene really.

"[Heap] said he was in the middle of making "a list of different ways you can save energy" to put on the site, which he hoped would allow Blackle to have "a bigger flow-on effect".

Big whoop.

There are already tens of thousands of web sites dedicated solely to offering energy savings advice or environmental sustainability management, most of them run by reputable institutions, with scientific underpinnings, and even government departments, with authoritative information relevant to local regions.

I too could spend a day collating some Internet search results, and I too could “make a list” to add to my site, but my value-add, my contribution to existing knowledge and behavioral change would be exactly jack-shit. (But then, I wouldn't be banking a motzah from my little search and collate effort either.)

Heap, and others like him, are at the bleeding-edge of sustainability cynicism. They are the contaminants lurking in the recycling bin that render the entire effort null and void.

The Age ...

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