A day after Playstation announced that their players are finally getting an update which will allow them to quickly switch from Rest Mode to powered-up, a feature already available on Xbox, the Natural Resources Defense Council announced that Xbox players are killing Gaia.

The “Instant On” feature of the Xbox One allows players to turn it on with voice command and there is no boot time, because it is basically always on, except in low power - and the NRDC claims 11 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity is being wasted, to the additional tune of $250,000,000 each year. How do they know that? I don't know how many units Microsoft has sold, because they have not told anyone. How do they know how many people even have that feature enabled? They don't, it's Haber's Rule for Environmental Fundraising - find some estimate somewhere and extrapolate it out and issue a press release about a blog post. And that is what they did.

To look evidence-based, NRDC Blogger Noah Horowitz links to a paper he co-wrote which did "extensive laboratory tests" on consoles, but the actual data is not there, the paper is just infographics and charts and conclusions for 15 pages. The paper says "Testing and Analysis Conducted by Pierre Delforge, NRDC," who is a computer programmer for them and co-wrote the paper. It's good to be in environmentalism where you can do Penny Stock Peer Review and just boost each other's value. 

Here is the problem. They guessed at number of units (7 million? Sure, why not?) and then they guessed at how much time each console spent in each power mode and then they guessed at how many people actually have that feature enabled. It's only down in the appendix that they admit "No usage data are available for Generation 8 consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Wii U), so NRDC estimated an active usage 25 percent higher than in the previous generation". And what was the previous usage based on? One paper from a few years ago that was also estimating.

The whole methodology was so wonky Noah starts off by assuring us it is not an April Fool's joke. And then does it again farther down in his blog post. They are a giant fundraising corporation so maybe he does the April Fool's thing a few times to get higher in some sort of topical search ranking, I don't know. If I knew how to do clever things like that, I would own an $8 million 15,000 square foot building in Santa Monica, like they do, and have a nice place to show rich celebrities. 

In reality, we are talking about a ½-watt for most people. If their numbers are not wildly overblown, it means players are probably spending about...$0.75 per day if they leave that feature enabled. Now, you might like to keep your $0.75 per day, I applaud that, and all you have to do is shut off the Instant On feature, but that is not the kind of mea culpa NRDC wants. “Microsoft refuses to fix this easy-to-solve problem despite repeated requests by our organization,” Noah chides. Well, Microsoft knows its users can figure out an easy menu setting. We're not Europeans, we don't need the government to go into our settings menus for us, people who want to spend $0.75 a day can do so. If emissions due to that are a concern, NRDC should stop their war on science and support clean energy, like nuclear and natural gas. 

For those of you who need to assuage your First World guilt about having an Xbox, go outside and play baseball instead - unless you eat meat, because NRDC also promotes the debunked notion that the calories meat eaters consume make walking to the store worse for the environment than driving a car.