She needs no introduction having plied the aqua blue waters of our ornate Wakatipu for more than a century reliably going about her business of getting from point A to B powered by that even more ancient now vilified black gold known as coal. It’s this very coal as its combusted in her rustic boilers to drive her twin screws that emits a haze of black smoke which seems to raise the hackles of the odd local and some of our clean living American tourists, notwithstanding the USA accounts for 20% of all global Co2 emissions (NZ 0.11%) and nearly half its electricity comes from burning coal (NZ 7%).
The ridiculousness of the entire argument pertaining to the future of the Earnslaw can be summed up by simply looking at a few numbers.
Assuming at a push her current schedule has been maintained over the last 101 years, in her lifetime our lovely lady has chewed through a whopping 404,000 tonnes of coal which has released around 1,155,440 tonnes of Co2 into the atmosphere.
That may sound immense but the Lady of the lake accounts for 0.00015% of New Zealand’s Co2 emissions per year. Her billowing smoke stack pours about the same amount of Co2 into the atmosphere as 2841 cows or 3 dairy farms every year and she would have to continue to operate for 205’000 years to contribute the amount of Co2 global deforestation contributes in one year to the atmosphere.
I hazard a guess that not many of you would trade our lady in for 2841 cows or forgo the PR value derived for Queenstown each year by her presence.
She’s not the only smoker either anyone around on the weekend would have also noted that the burn off on Deer Park heights made the Earnslaw like captain planet on steroids by comparison.
Like any smoking hot lady she needs to be cut a few breaks and I for one can’t imagine the lake without her. It’s smoke harden up and live with it as everyone has for the last 101 years.
Earnslaw by Numbers
* The Earnslaw burns 1 tonne coal an hour
* Maximum of 13 tonnes coal per day on a big day.
* Around 4000 tonnes per year (on survey for 4 weeks per annum)
* Equates to 11440 tonnes of C02 per year or 1155440 tonnes in its 101 year life span.
* The same as 2800 cows per year or 3 decent size dairy farms
* The Earnslaw would have to operate for 205’000 more years to emit the same amount of C02 as one year of worldwide deforestation.
* The Earnslaw accounts for only 0.00015% of New Zealands Emissions
* The knob end American who flew over emitted 20kg’s of C02 on his return flights to NZ and only 13kgs on his trip over the to walter peak and back on the lady of the lake.
* Each 737 departing to Auckland emits 165kgs of C02 on its trip.
* NZ produces 0.11% of global Co2
Mark writes a regular column for the Mountain Scene
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