Unit of the day: the blue whale

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There are many totally zany units used in energy – my favourite: the British thermal unit, used by Americans and not by the British- and here is a new one: the blue whale.

It first appears  at the Guardian’s website today. They have kicked off a “Keep it in the ground” campaign, aiming to get the Wellcome and Gates Foundations to divest from fossil fuels.

At the bottom of the page is ticker, it tells you how many tonnes of coal have been burned since you opened the pages. Bizarrely, they tell you how many blue whales this would be the weight of. This definitely ranks up there with the worst units in the history of energy. Yes, to put 12,000 tonnes of coal into perspective we will tell you the equivalent weight in a common marine mammal. Of course, it isn’t much worse than measuring oil in barrels, or natural gas in cubic feet.



One thought on “Unit of the day: the blue whale

    johnrussell40 said:
    March 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Yes, I thought that odd, too.

    It’s not even a ‘common’ marine animal: it’s one the size of which very few of us can actually imagine. A conical pile ‘x’ metres high (and growing), with a little illustration, would have been much more logical.


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