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Blog

A (Not so) Green New Year

Thomas Whitley

The always lovely Green Inc. blog on the New York Times has quite an interesting article out today about the annual New Year’s celebration in New York. The article boasts that the ball is being lit by LED (light-emitting diodes) as opposed to halogen and incandescent bulbs. This I am all for as I fully understand how much less energy LED bulbs use than do halogen and incandescent bulbs. However, I am a bit confused at the need to double the size of the ball.

This year the ball, made of crystal triangles, has been doubled in size to measure 12 feet in diameter. It will stay aloft all year long and also features three times as many L.E.D. bulbs (32,256 bulbs to be precise).

Let me get this logic right…because we’re trying to be more “green” we’re using bulbs that use less energy, in that case we can double the size that the ball has been in the past, which results in using twice as much energy as could be used if the ball remained the traditional size. There is a huge breakdown in logic here, in my opinion.

But it doesn’t stop there. Not only is the ball being doubled in size, but the plan is to leave the ball aloft all year long and, apparently, leave it lit all year too:

Jeff Straus, the president of Countdown Entertainment and co-organizer of Times Square New Year’s Eve, has promised that the ball will be “a bright sparkling jewel” this year “entertaining New Yorkers and tourists from around the world not only on December 31, but throughout the year.”

James Kanter does briefly address the breakdown in logic, but then goes on to say

it remains unclear whether keeping the ball illuminated year-round will cancel out the energy savings from using L.E.D. lights.

It seems to me that this is not the right question to be asking. The question, instead, should be regardless of whether we could burn this ball all year long at the same amount of energy as it took to burn the previous ball with its halogen and incandescent bulbs for a short period of time, why would we use a hundred times more energy than we need to? What is gained by leaving the ball lit year round? This seems to be merely a move of arrogance and pride. If Jeff Strauss and Countdown Entertainment were really serious about being “green,” then they should be making every effort possible to use as little energy as possible. It seems clear, though, that this is not their real concern. Rather, Jeff Strauss and Countdown Entertainment are merely jumping on the Green Bandwagon because of its great marketability.

Green Fail.