What does Walt Disney World have in common with the ancient Middle Eastern cities of Jerash and Jerusalem? In each of these places we’ve found glaring examples of wasted energy in the form of high wattage outdoor lights switched on during the brightest hours of sunny days.
The radio program “This American Life” once aired a story about a guy named Steve who was trying to get himself appointed as union boss in the Schenectady New York school district. So Steve developed a plan to make Lou, the current maintenance head, look wasteful. One of his minions explains:
“These football field lights, there are– God, I’m thinking about 120 of these lights and they draw a lot of power. So we had them turned on during the day and they stayed on for a few hours to eat up some energy. You know what I mean?”
So Lou, the “wasteful” maintenance manager is sacked and Steve turns off the stadium lights. Suddenly Steve is a miracle worker, saving the district so much energy he slides into the role of energy czar.
We’re not advocating that anyone should try this nor are we accusing anyone in Jerash, Jerusalem or Walt Disney World of playing Steve’s deceitful game, but turning off these excess daytime lights seems to be the most obvious and simplest form of energy conservation. Two years ago Green Prophet wondered how many off switches we can find before the summer solstice. With northern summer solstice only a few days away, how many unnecessary daytime outdoor can you find?
Here are a few we found:
Between the western wall of Jerusalem and Mount of Olives there is a road and on that road there are streetlights. This photo was taken in the middle of a bright sunny day and nearly all of these streetlights were turned on. I’m going to give Jerusalem’s city managers the benefit of the doubt and assume these are low wattage high pressure sodium lights, maybe 100 watts each for at least a dozen lights, that’s 1200 Watts wasted * 14.22 hours of summer solstice daylight, that’s 17.6 kilowatt hours wasted just during this one day. If these lights are on during the 3468 hours of daylight Jerusalem receives every year, it adds to 4161 kWh our 4.16 Megawatt hours wasted!
Maybe we can also assume that the man in the cherry picker is changing the light bulbs and maybe he needs the lights turned on to help him perform his job. But if Jerusalem were to replace these lights with LEDs, the dangerous task of working on live high-voltage streetlights won’t have to be performed as often.
Not to be outdone, Jerash is our next and perhaps finest example of energy hedonism. Notice how the standard 400 Watt hardware store halogen lights blend so perfectly into the two-thousand year-old Greco-Roman columns!
Are these lights turned on for aesthetic purposes or to give an air of historical accuracy? The bank of lights in the top photo must be absolutely eye-watering against a starry desert sky but in daylight they serve another purpose, an absolutely perfect way to waste 400W X 7 = 2800 Watts for no reason at all!
But the magical kingdom of Walt Disney World wins this round of the 2015 energy wastage Olympics. It isn’t enough that coal is burned to heat the atmosphere and require more air conditioning which spills out into the Florida outdoors to cool off the queues of sunburned tourists.
No, Walt Disney World also illuminates their massive parking lots during the long bright days of summer. Way to go Disney World but watch your back, Epcot’s retro 1970s style energy hedonism doesn’t hold a candle to what’s in store for places in the Middle East including UAE’s playground malls and cities.