Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Running the A/C and cutting down trees is not good for the environment

If this post could have a subtitle it would be "The stupid, it burns!"

I must confess a shameful interest in the actual mechanics of the computing I rely on to do science. A lot of astrophysicists proudly ignore the details of technology, blithely purchasing whatever hardware seems popular at the time (Sun workstations and Windows laptops a decade ago, Mac Pros and MacBook Pros now), but I enjoy reading the occasional Tech web site, because you can often actually learn something valuable from them.

Occasionally even reputable Tech sites will post absolute idiocy, and it becomes apparent that not everyone who has access to a computer actually knows or wants to think logically.

This week Real Climate has to take the time to deconstruct a simultaneously amusingly and depressingly stupid set of articles in Wired that argue that air conditioning is green than heating and that tree farms are greener than keeping old growth forest.

Pretty obvious isn't it? If you came up with the answer that it takes less energy to cool something in a heat bath down by a fixed amount than to heat it up by the same amount you might want to check your calculations, because you would remember this rather fundamental thing called the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Yet Matt Power, the article of those Wired articles, didn't even blink an eye before publishing them. I can only presume he skipped his physics classes while he was registering Republican. Looks like Wired's Matt Power is their equivalent to Daily Tech's Michael Asher.

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