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The Next Big Fad


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View Molly Woodward's blog posts
02 December 2009, 3:53 PM
How a cute cartoon can fight climate change
Tamagotchi. Photo: imeleven.

As the Copenhagen conference approaches, our instinct may be to let politicians resolve the planet’s fate. But we’re also realizing more and more that we can’t just rely on politicians. Each of us needs to cut our individual energy usage. Dramatically. Now.

I’m the first to say that cutting down on the pleasures and convenience of heat and electricity is hard. It’s too easy to put off my goals for another day, or to console myself about the ways I do conserve. What will it take to get us all really saving?

Knowing us Americans, maybe what we need is… a new fad! Something fun. Something that will spur some friendly competition. Maybe even something a little bit cute.

When I was a kid I got a Tamagotchi (otherwise known as a “virtual pet”) for my birthday. For those of you who don’t remember the Tamagotchi fad of the mid-nineties, the toy consists of a keychain bearing a tiny battery-operated screen where a pixilated little creature “lives.” You “feed” the pet and care for it in other ways by pressing buttons.

I was a negligent caregiver. After leaving my first and only Tamagotchi to fend for itself one weekend, I returned to find the creature utterly dead, staring blindly from the screen with dead X eyes. I had killed the Tamagotchi. Though I could reset it for a new life, the fact that I was responsible for the thing’s death really got to me. I think I might have actually cried.

How could I be so moved by the death of a few pixels? I think it’s because the thing had a face (though admittedly a rather simplistic one), and because its fate depended on my actions. 

One smart company, TellEmotion, has devised a way of connecting this human weakness for a cute face to the goal of energy conservation. The system connects real-time energy usage data to the image of an animated polar bear on a computer monitor. When energy usage is low, the bear is happy. But when usage rises, there’s trouble. Icebergs crack and break. The bear starts to sweat. And if you’re really bad, the ice disappears altogether, leaving the poor bear flailing in the water.

So far, the technology has been put to use primarily in college dorms, which competed with each other to be the most efficient. The company says that as much as 60 percent of energy consumption is behavioral and can be reduced through behavioral changes. But to change behavior, people need information and motivation. And it appears that a cute polar bear and some healthy competition is exactly the kind of motivation people need. Schools saw reductions in energy usage by an average of 10 percent. 

Wouldn’t it be fun if every family, every business, had a virtual energy “pet?” We could all compete to see whose animal fared the best. Maybe in addition to polar bears there could be sea turtles, salmon, pikas!

In the midst of the virtual fun, perhaps we’d all think more about the real animals out there, trying to survive, and the real people whose lives are affected by the energy we use. In the end, though, what matters is what we do. If it takes a new fad featuring cute animals to make us use less energy, let’s jump on that bandwagon.    

More ways to monitor energy:

Tweet-A-Watt

A kit allows you to modify any real-time power meter to tweet the daily kilowatt hours consumed by the user’s Twitter account. 

The Power Hog

This energy “piggy bank” demands a coin to power an electrical device, allowing you to monitor energy and in the process force your kids to pay for their TV time. Cruel but compelling.

 Basic Energy Monitoring

Outlet monitoring:

Plug your cell phone charger, TV, and other individual devices into monitors like Kill-a-Watt, GreenSwitch, and Wattson, which run for as low as $15.

Home monitoring:

The HomeJoule, Power2Save and other such monitors track total energy usage in your house, and run upwards of $100.

If we obeyed God's commandment to keep the 7th day of NO WORK for anyone, it would cut down on energy use and pollution about ??? 1/7th. If we lived by God's standard we would stop producing things with images and pictures and transporting them around the world. We could have the women to be keepers at home to raise their own families instead of creating businesses to care for the young and old while they are making work. We could work during the day and rest in the night with our families. That would cut great electricity needs and cut pollution substantially. There is a lot we can do without investing a lot of money.

The goal is survival, good health and healthy food and peace.
The goal is not delay, the goal is a solution.
The goal is not jobs, financial opportunities, or new technology.

We can "stop the world system." and end the problem. We can bring extraordinary hope to all people. We can bring peace instead of war over resources. The Climate Change Conference goals are counter-productive and dangerous.

http://thepostnemail.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/briston-univ-study-contrad...
This agrees with a NOVA program.
NOVA had a program a number of years ago that if the sun and moon were a little closer, it would dramatically increase the CO2 and you would almost be able to watch things grow, they would grow so fast. By reducing CO2 it would decrease the growing capacity of the earth; we would die from starvation.

The employment lifestyle is destroying the world and our health, physically, emotionally and spiritually. We are making jobs just for the sake of making jobs, seeking riches while destroying ourselves. The only sustainable and reasonable solution is to "retire." We can turn to a garden paradise lifestyle with trees, plants and pets that provide fresh food around us. That gives us the true riches of peace and contentment with families together. That solves "climate change" and pollution, disease, energy crisis, war, immigration, financial crises, and social problems at the same time. Any other solution causes other problems, takes away our freedoms and is not even a good delay.

Between counter-productive and ineffective "indulgences" and continuing the polluting oppressive employment lifestyle, we have errors in science thinking CO2 is bad when it is good for the planet. When we add the fact that God is against nations joining together for protection and prosperity and He frustrates, confuses and destroys their plans, (Psalm 1 and 2, 11 Chronicles 16:7-12; 20:35-37) there is no point in going to Copenhagen except to withdraw from the United Nations formally.

Marie Devine
http://www.divine-way.com
God has solutions to world problems we created by ignoring His wisdom.

Although competition within a household to save energy seems absurd, if that's what it takes in our aggressive society to get people to be more energy conscious, let it be. Many people, especially kids, have no benchmark for energy consumption. If any of these little cutsy devices imprints them early on with specific waste standards, our future national consumption will be increasingly lessened. Good idea. Does any of them come with instructions on how to safely dispose of themselves? And how much energy and plastic and lithium it takes to make each one?
R...
Philadelphia

Although competition within a household to save energy seems absurd, if that's what it takes in our aggressive society to get people to be more energy conscious, let it be. Many people, especially kids, have no benchmark for energy consumption. If any of these little cutsy devices imprints them early on with specific waste standards, our future national consumption will be increasingly lessened. Good idea. Does any of them come with instructions on how to safely dispose of themselves? And how much energy and plastic and lithium it takes to make each one?
R...
Philadelphia

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