Dear Minister: What Sort of Carbon Footprint Does Burning a Cat Create?


The best-laid Earth Hours can often go awry. Earth Hour is an annual event in which people all over the world are supposed to not use electricity as a way of showing how totally awesome they are.

But it's not an Earth Hour until the fur starts to burn. Dateline, Victoria, British Columbia:

B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner was hoping to spark a little romance with his wife over a candlelit dinner Saturday during Earth Hour.

Instead, he accidentally set his cat on fire.

Penner, who had been urging British Columbians to forgo electricity during the annual conservation event, took his own advice and lit numerous candles for the night.

"We actually enjoyed a very romantic candlelit dinner that was only interrupted when our cat set himself on fire by brushing up against the flame, which caused some excitement."

I'm sure we're all relieved that there was some excitement. The cat, Ranger (pictured), was unavailable for comment, but was allegedly doing swell. Penner stuck to the no-electricity theme of the evening and refused to operate a fan to remove the odor (odour?) of singed cat fur.

Whole bit here.

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  1. I think sitting in the dark is the perfect metaphor for the goals of modern environmentalism.

    1. Shut the thread down. Seriously. Nothing’s going to top this.

    2. This is beautiful.

    3. This was so perfectly said one might think Jefferson himself said it.

    4. You’re on a roll today man. Again, well done.

  2. The article’s final paragraph reveals something about Canadians’ waning enthusiasm for “Earth Hour”:

    “The province’s electricity load dropped only 1.04 per cent, the smallest decrease in the three years since B.C. has participated in the global event.”

    1. How much CO2 does a burning candle produce?

      1. Not to mention how much energy it takes to produce a candle and a match. Even incandescent light bulbs are more energy efficient than candles. True, energy was used for lighting before the invention of the light bulb, but that’s because lighting was used much more sparingly due to the expense and dangers of candles.

      2. My employer wouldn’t appreciate me taking the time to properly answer this excellent question, but short version: candles are solid kerosene, so, lots…

        1. Solid kerosene? Obviously you have never used a candle or you wouldn’t spout such nonsense. Candles are made from wax with a wick that’s probably been doused in something to encourage it to burn (or not doused, I’ve never been clear on that).

          Those little kerosene things you put under chaffing dishes are NOT candles and shouldn’t be used as such.

          1. Hey Mr Wizard, most candles are made of paraffin which is a kerosene wax, one of the many glorious products made from the refining of oil.

            1. If you use beeswax candles, they say that they are technically carbon neutral, but then again you have to factor in the fuel used in distribution and whatnot. Considering it takes 40 candles to replace one forty watt bulb, you might as well just sit in the dark for an hour, because unless you’re going to fill your house with 200 candles, you won’t be able to do any of the same things anyway. Just take an hour nap. Call it nap hour, it’ll be great.

              1. beeswax, paraffin, or earwax, they’re all hydrocarbons.

                1. Sorry, wrong. Beeswax and earwax contain oxygen (and probably some other stuff).

                  1. Beezwax does contain carbon, but it is carbon neutral, because it is only giving off the carbon that would have been given off naturally. However, most candles are not bee’s wax based.

              2. Most things you do don’t actually require the amount of light that is usually available in an electrically lit home.

                1. Not according to OSHA apparently. I do a lot of things in the dark, like watching television, sleeping, masturbating, and staring at my neighbors in the dark with my night vision goggles. The fact of the matter is that it is almost purely a symbolic gesture in the best of cases!

          2. Candle wicks are generally not treated with anything. The cotton burns just fine on its own, the heat from the flame melts the nearby candle “wax” which being liquid is immediately wicked up by the wick and then vaporized and ignited as it reaches the top, thus stopping the wick from burning.

            Most commercial candles are made from parafin, a solid-at-room-temp petrochemical. Beeswax is today found only in expensive artisan-made candles.

            “Those little kerosene things” (Sterno and other fine brands) are generally jellied alcohol, not kerosene.

            1. thus stopping the wick from burning

              thus slowing the consumption of the wick by the flame.

              1. the nerd thread. Moving along;-)

                1. The doctor is in.

                  1. J’attends ailleurs

                    1. en Bolivie

    2. Indeed. Light bulbs are little more than a symbol of electricity usage. The vast majority of electricity goes to power refrigerators, air conditioners, computers, microwaves, and TVs. The problem is that turning those off isn’t as ostentatious a display as turning off a couple of light bulbs.

      1. No, most electricity is wasted in the delivery to the home. The practice of utilizing long high power tension lines is incredibly wasteful.

        1. The amount of energy wasted in delivery is a small amount of the total, so even adding that extra percentage in, it still doesn’t make sense to switch to candle power.

        2. MOST? Cite pls?!?!?

          1. I didn’t see your “most energy is wasted in deliver” until I gave it a second pass. MOST? FUCKING, MOST? Doing a quick google search, all that I could find was a 7% figure. Last time that I checked, 7% wasn’t most.

            1. I think he means “Of all the energy that gets wasted, the largest proportion is from transmission line loss.”, which is a true statement.

              Full disclosure: I work for in the power energy.

              1. I would like to see an article of sorts at least. “Of all the energy that is wasted?” In the sense that we are discussing, we are talking about total energy used. What percentage of the energy used is “wasted?”

                1. If 51% percent of our energy is being wasted along transmission lines, wouldn’t we all just be using at home generators?

              2. “Typically, 7-12% of power generated at centrally located plants in the U.S. is lost along the lines (“line losses”)”



                Do you have any evidence or argument, gentlemen?

  3. I think going to a Renaissance Faire is a much more enjoyable way to pretend like you are living in a pre-industrial world, but that’s just like my opinion, dude.

    1. That’s right. Nobody fucks with the Renaissance, man.

      1. Nobody would fuck a guy who goes to the Renaissance Faire

        1. Nobody worth fucking would fuck a guy who goes to the Renaissance Faire


    2. You fucking LARPer.

  4. Too bad his entire house didn’t catch fire and the fire department waited until ‘earth hour’ ended before deploying trucks.

    1. Leave the thread open. The hits keep coming!

      1. Close it! Close it!

    2. Yeah,that sucks. People who make sincere but meaningless gestures toward being less wasteful deserve to have their lives endangered and their stuff destroyed.

      1. If they do it to themselves, you betcha!

      2. Sincerity in pushing your bad idea is not in any way a good thing. Can we all drop the idea that just because someone is sincere about their stupidity that somehow that makes it less stupid and gives them a pass?

  5. I’d just like to add that while you were celebrating Earth Hour, I was watching WVU beat the shit out of Kentucky. Let’s go Mountaineers!

    1. Get past Duke and you will prove you have some worth, Assaineers!

    2. Duke is the Evil Empire. They must be destroyed.

    3. It helps when the refs have a clear vendetta against the other team. Not saying they wouldn’t have won anyway, but it helps.

    4. I’ll be at the game, so if you are watching the game and you hear a guy shouting Baby Roof! whenever Sloth from the Goonies Kyle Singler gets the ball, that’ll be me.

  6. What I liked about last year’s Earth Hour was the fact that there was a TV special you were supposed to watch during the hour when your lights were off.

    Reality is, you’d save more electricity if you left the lights on and turned the goddam TV off. A lot more, especially for those of us with CRTs.

  7. Now that’s some hot pussy!

    1. they at it raw;-)

      1. ate!

        1. Probably the first time his wife felt like her pussy was on fire during a date.

  8. If I had heard of Earth Hour before this year, I had successfully repressed the memory. Fucking hippies.

    1. Everyday is Caturday.

  9. “We actually enjoyed a very romantic candlelit dinner.” But, how did they cook it?

    1. Yeah, nothing says “romance” like the stink of burnt hair lingering in the air.

      1. Oh, scolched cat is vely lomantic mear. Stil-fly it in Teliyaki sauce, mmm.

        1. hot pussy calls for a salty white sauce

          1. Shit, sugarfree was right.

            close it! close it!

  10. Factoring in manufacture and transportation, or not, is candle burning less carbon creating than using electricity? Very unlikely when the amount of light produced is equal. And were these candles bee’s wax, tallow, or paraffin? And of the three which one is greener and more sustainable?

    1. Beeswax is carbon neutral in and of itself, but I seriously doubt that the raising of the bees, the collection of the honey, the trasnportation of the honey from where the bees are to where the people are, the processing into candles, or the distribution is. To be fair, lightbulbs have a manufacturing and distribution process, too. HOwever, you only need one bulb to do the work of 40 candles. That’s a lot less distribution.

      1. And if you use CF bulbs (which presumably the sort of person who cares about earth hour would do) it takes even more candles per watt of electricity replaced.

  11. I can BE cheezburger?

    1. See, this is why we left the thread open!

      1. Thank you, a pleasure to have read you and to contribute my little, charred piece.

  12. Forgoing electricity and using candles instead? Sounds romantic AND committed to the cause of saving energy!

    I tried to calculate how many candles it would take to light up this office to the OSHA-recommended level of roughly 100 footcandles, and how many shipping containers of candles we’d need per day, but I got bogged down in the calculations. Suffice it to say this office building alone would probably require its own private railroad just to keep it supplied with candles. Now THAT’s commitment for you.

    1. laid

      1. At the office? Not much. But I _can_ waste time on idle speculation!

    2. I love how people think that we came from this beautiful garden of eden, that somehow still included candles, books, clothes, etc, and we fucked it up for things like electricity and cars. The truth is that horses created more pollution than cars, and according to superfreakanomics, caused more deaths due to collision. Not only that, but all of the manure was full of oats, which were a favored food of plague rats that flooded the cities. Sure, they were able to sell some of that fertilizer, but as the population of horses exploded to meet demand, there was more manure than you could possibly sell, so it just ended up on the streets.

      Fuck that, I’d rather have a bit of global warming than go back to the fucking stone age.

      1. You’re right, the early industrial age was not an environmentally friendly time. That’s not what we have in mind as our ideal.

        1. What’s your ideal, then?

          1. The time before man existed, I think.

            1. If this is the result your looking for wouldn’t just offing the population work.

        2. So, further back? If it is not your ideal, then stop doing these fucking publicity stunts and telling people to take communal showers. You’re distracting people from your own cause.

          If it is about powering ahead with technology to a new, brighter green age, then I don’t see how we’re supposed to accomplish this by sitting in the dark looking like idiots to please some god in some political office, or to impress the neighbors. Don’t hide your bullshit with more bullshit, then.

          1. Hey, quit telli9ng people to dial back on the communal shower talk, in fact dial it up. I could care less about the greenness of it (actually with 2 people in my shower it uses about 4 times as much hot water) but with the right person it definitely improves my bathroom environment.

      2. Do you have a source on the horses creating more polltion/deaths superfreakanomics?

        Not skeptical, just would love to send around to the hippies.

        1. I’d have to check the book, but I gave my copy of superfreakanomics to somebody.

          1. Buy a copy today!

            Brought to you by Carl’s junior.

            Brought to you by Carl’s junior.

            Brought to you by Carl’s junior.

            Sorry, I was watching idiocracy today.

    3. From Wikipedia: A candle typically produces about 13 lumens of visible light and 40 watts of heat, although this can vary depending primarily on the characteristics of the candle wick. For comparison, note that a 40 watt incandescent light bulb produces approximately 500 lumens for the same amount of power.

      Hope that helps.

  13. Earth Hour, eh? I wonder if my microwave can run for an hour…

    1. Just make sure to use a nice big bowl of water. Don’t want to set your cat on fire with your show of commitment to Gaia.

  14. What I find hilarious about earth hour is the actual results in energy use. According to Watts Up With That blog, energy use spiked well above predicted, and only dropped back down to the trend line, during, in California. The same thing shows up in the plots from the last couple years. So, the only conclusion you can come to is that in CA, earth hour increases energy consumption, but has no impact on energy production, and wouldn’t, even if there was a significant yearly decrease for that hour.

    It is however an easy way to pick out trendy, and clueless neighbors.

    1. “What I find hilarious about earth hour is the actual results in energy use.”

      Ontario’s impact: 560 MW (or 4% of typical power consumption)
      From the WWF Canada blog.

      From their blog:

      Realist says:
      March 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM

      Marc said,

      “It is a demonstration showing that doing something so insignificant as turning off the lights in your home can make an impact when everyone participates.”

      No. It is a demonstration that when everyone participates by doing something as insignificant as turning out their lights, the total result is still insignificant.

      The math:

      560 MWh of reduced power consumption at 588.3 kg CO2 per MWh (Source.) results in 329.4 metric tons of CO2 emissions reductions due to Earth Hour in Ontario.

      Ontario’s CO2 emissions reduction target is 61 Mt per year by 2014 (166 Mt target vs. 227 Mt “Business as Usual” forecast). (Source.)

      Congratulations. Earth Hour successfully achieved 0.00054% of the province’s annual CO2 emission reduction target. In other words, Ontarians would have to have 185,158 Earth Hours each year to achieve the province’s annual target. Unfortunately, there are only 8760 hours in a year.

      Sorry to rain on your feel-good parade, but you can still be happy that you’ve “raised awareness”.

  15. It is however an easy way to pick out off trendy, and clueless neighbors.

    Candles look like road flares with night vision goggles on. Just sayin’…

    1. Maybe it would be more eco friendly if we all wore nightvision goggles at night? Lol, now that would be a sight to behold. Night vision goggle hour!

    2. Close curtains.

  16. Instead, he [Penner] accidentally set his cat on fire. […]

    “We actually enjoyed a very romantic candlelit dinner that was only interrupted when our cat set himself on fire…”

    Liar, liar, cat’s on fire.

  17. Well, I’m glad we made it this far without any jokes about hot pussy in the dark. Because that would be completely tasteless.

    1. I held back but if you wanted to hear…

    2. Scroll up, my friend. You must have missed them.

      1. J, he was masturbating for more

        1. he was masturbating for more…

          Um… I don’t masturbate at work, personally. Also, I’d rather do it to dirty pictures than lame jokes. (Probably NSFW).

          But whatever turns you on, Everyone knows. Maybe someone can get you an old Sinbad album for your birthday so you can fap away…

          1. Thanks, but I’m not a lesbian. Ok, there was a time when that girl said…

  18. What this illustrates to me is that candles and open flames used for illumination are very dangerous. Happily we live in an age of electricity.

  19. Makes me wish I had partaken in Earth Hour with my girlfriend’s cat.

    I’m only kidding…

  20. Beezwax does contain carbon, but it is carbon neutral, because it is only giving off the carbon that would have been given off naturally.

    When the bees burn the candles they make with their own wax? That’s what they produce wax for, right?

    1. Lol, I’m giving the hippies the benefit of the doubt.

  21. “A TV, particularly when tuned to the Canucks, is classified as an essential use of power.”


    1. The linked article about the Canucks game raises a question.

      A record 121 countries around the world are part of Earth Hour, during which participants conserve electricity by turning off unnecessary lights between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on March 27.

      [italics mine]

      If the lights being turned off are unnecessary, why are they on in the first place?

      1. It is not necessary to make comments on this blog. So why are you doing this?

        1. Go fuck yourself.

  22. Burn Fluffy, burn!

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