Vampire Gizmos and Global Warming

This is the transcript of a neat little piece on that excellent show Living on Earth . If you haven’t checked out this program you really should there’s a weekly podcast, you can subscribe to it on iTunes and it’s a must listen for anyone concerned with the fate of our planet.

Bruce Gellerman has a little item in the current show, suggesting a really neat way of drawing attention to how much energy our beloved high tech gizmos consume. The 26th of April is the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. To commemorate the event and draw attention to this issue, Bruce is suggesting switching off all the gizmos (including those old fashioned things called TVs) instead of leaving them on standby. A TV uses more energy in the 20 hours that is it switched off for than it does for the 4 hours you might watch! Yikes! Thanks for the great reporting Bruce! 26th of April is Vampire Gizmo Day – spread the word – read the transcript:

GELLERMAN: Ten years ago this April I stood in the shadow of what was left of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. I was gathering sound for a story I was gathering sound for this program about the 10th anniversary of the disaster. Even then, sarcophagus, the giant black hood that shrouds the doomed reactor was leaking radiation and we could only stand there for but a minute or so.

In the nearby town of Prypiat, where reactor workers and their families lived, you can still see the remnants of their lives: newspapers from April 25, the day before the accident. In a playground, a Ferris Wheel once filled with squealing kids now rusts and creaks in the wind. 47 emergency workers died fighting the explosion. Tens of thousands were caught in the radioactive fall out. How many more died from cancer? Nobody really knows.

But these days the only time I give any thought to Chernobyl nuclear reactors, or power generating plants at all, is when I get my monthly electric bill. It’s been going up. A lot. And that’s got me thinking: sure, I’m worried about global warming, and nukes don’t produce greenhouse gases. And they’re safe… if you don’t worry about the 100,000-year half life of the radioactive waste. Or terrorists. Or an accident.

But I need my electricity. It’s the lifeblood for all the gizmos and gadgets; my cell phones, PDAs, laptop, and mp3 players. Efficiency experts call them energy vampires, and they’re slowly bleeding me. They’re on 24-7

Today, a TV uses more energy during the 20 hours its on stand by then the four hours you watch it. If we just unplugged these devices we’d drive a stake through the vamp amps, and the nation would need 20 fewer power plants. But how realistic is that? Well at least on one day this April 26, on the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl, I’m going to pull the plug on my kitchen full of energy wasters. The people who lived and died in Pripyat deserve at least that.


One response to “Vampire Gizmos and Global Warming

  1. The author makes an excellent point here – the first, second and third items in any energy policy should be conservation. The cheapest, safest energy is that which you don’t use.

    If readers would like an insider’s perspective on the US nuclear industry and a comparison with Chernobyl – written for the lay person – see my online novel Rad Decision at There is no cost. See the homepage comments for reader reviews.

    “I’d like to see Rad Decision widely read.” – Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s