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Today, I went out to Grand & Toys to get some office supplies. While there, I remembered that I could use a new pen, and so I go at the front of the store where they keep their pen display. To my dismay, I see that Grand & Toys offers about 60 different types of pens. One of every type, shape, and color! At first, you (and I) would think that so much choice was great for me. That I would now be liberated by the amount of pens to choose from. That I could finally pick up the best possible pen for myself!
In fact, I was completely paralyzed and ended up leaving without buying any pen.
It’s not the first time I am faced with this sort of situation (happened a while back with paper…), but a week or two ago, I watched the following talk, embedded from www.ted.com, which made me realized exactly what I was feeling. I was confronted with what Barry Schwartz called “the paradox of choice”.
According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, this paralysis is a consequence of too much choice, which he discusses thoroughly in his book Why more is Less. In this talk, Schwartz goes on to explain other problems caused by the wealth of choice in our western society, namely, anticipated regret, opportunity cost, escalation of expectations, and self blame.
In just about 20 minutes, Barry Schwartz goes from explaining what some think is the biggest culprit (I do) for the rising depression and suicide rates in our society to giving away the secret to living a happy life. Well worth the 20:22 minutes! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
According to Toronto newspaper The Star, Toronto observed an 8.7% dip on it’s energy curve. Here is a nice comparison of the Skyline before and during Earth Hour from their website.
Another fun source of images of Earth Hour across downtown Toronto is at blogTo.com, where you can see this interesting graph of energy consumption during the day of Earth Hour. Mind you, that graph is across Ontario and so the dip may not look as pronounced as Toronto’s experts have suggested. However, I think we do see a little bit of a change in consumption right later at night. I saw a very different graph earlier today, of Toronto’s energy, but I can’t seem to find it online. Too bad.
For the curious, here is the energy consumption of yesterday, according to ieso’s website. Keep in mind that yesterday was much warmer than on March 28th, and so the comparison isn’t ideal.
You can sort of see the effects of Earth Hour on the curve, but, to be fair, the real difference is in people’s head, which has always been the idea behind the Earth Hour’s movement. So, in that sense, I think that Torontonians really participated well and even if it didn’t have quite the effect on the energy consumed of March 28th 2008, I personally think it was a wonderful event and am glad we participated as much as we did. I sure hope we do better next year though! The challenge is on!
So I first planned on taking pictures of Toronto’s earth hour, and somehow I forgot to. Well, actually, I started by taking a video, which didn’t turn out very nicely, and kind of forgot to take a photo of the skyline in the end. It would have been cool to show the “before” and “after” shots, kind of like the ones I’ve seen on the blog of earthhour.org. I have to say that we didn’t notice a huge difference between the “on/off” states of the city. I mean, we could spot some building that had turned off their lights completely, for example Bank of Montreal was completely out, which is probably the second biggest/tallest building downtown Toronto! I would give Toronto’s Earth Hour a 6 out of 10 probably. Curious to know how well other cities have done.
As for us, I am happy to report that we did turn off all our lights and most of our electronics in the house for the whole hour. However, I must admit that at one point I did cheat and turn on my laptop (using the battery only!) to check something online (okay… my router was using electicity in I guess…), which made me discover just how cool and fun the people at Google are. Check out there version of the earth hour: