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Earth Hour is bollocks. Earth Hour cynics are encouraged to submit their pictures of power-hungry activities for Earth Hour 2010. Also, any articles or research you've done or if you'd like to be added to the list of supporters... CLICK HERE to upload photos or get in touch with the team.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Earth Hour demonizes electricity

a reader sent in the following article...

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it is nothing more than an hour devoted to anti-humanism.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity. Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading. Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Most of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local
deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases. Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap
electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. That’s how we developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it is nothing more than an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It invites people to become sanctimonious do-gooders by turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in service of some ill-understood abstraction called “The Earth”, all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of electricity. People who want to do without electricity to prove their symbolic solidarity with nature should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Haiti just went back to nature. For humans, living in “Nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work to end poverty and disease are struggling against nature. I hope they believe in their own cause enough to leave their lights on…

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and therefore we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something very bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations. No thanks. I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization is something to be ashamed of.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour Verging on Occult

By David Seymour

Earth Hour fails at fighting climate change, so what is it about?

If previous Earth Hours are any indication, this Saturday’s annual ritual will possess a curious blend of contradictory properties. Switching off the lights for an hour will have little effect on climate change, practical or symbolic, yet it will likely follow the established trend of growing participation each year. All good contradictions deserve an explanation, but the most likely ones in this case don’t bode well for our Western liberal Enlightenment tradition.

Earth Hour will not reduce the consumption of resources. Even without the parties, concerts, or candle burning, Earth Hour could only delay consumption, not reduce it. A more effective way to pursue the goal of Earth Hour would be to calculate one’s annual income, divide it by the number of hours in a year and (cleanly) burn that much money—less money equals less future consumption.

Some might say that misses the point, Earth hour is meant to be a symbol. But it won’t “send a message” to politicians (at least not the intended one), and its hollowness causes other problems. As a thought experiment, why isn’t it Earth two hours, or a whole day? And how many Earth Hour participants really enjoy sitting in the dark, as opposed to burning candles, playing flashlight tag and attending Earth Hour concerts? The real message Earth Hour sends politicians is that people think this fights climate change, and any policies which actually restrict access to carbon-based energy would be political suicide.

At the same time, Earth Hour dims the image of carbon emission reduction policies by associating them with hardship. If climate change mitigation policies were sold as policies of sacrifice, they’d be even less popular than they are already. The best escape route from this charge of sacrifice is that new technologies (which, the story goes, we would have adopted long ago anyway) will make the shift to a low-carbon economy painless. Yet going without light for an hour celebrates sacrifice while renouncing technology.

This is not only the wrong image, it is the wrong policy. Earth Hour preaches deprivation (in principle, if not in practice) but wealthier countries are better environmental stewards than poor nations. That’s because people tend to look after their most basic needs first and the environment second. Saving the Amazon rainforest as vital carbon sinks is good and well if you live in a country like Canada, but some people in Brazil are desperate enough for survival that the army must fight illegal deforestation. Wealth and technology should be the celebrated hope for solving problems like climate change; instead, Earth Hour symbolically switches them off.

Earth Hour is not just ineffective at promoting carbon emission reduction. Politically and practically, it achieves the opposite. Why would somebody who cared deeply about climate change want to be part of an event so wrong-headed? The conclusion that Earth Hour is not primarily about climate change—rather that climate change is a proxy for some other cause—becomes harder to escape with each passing Earth Hour.

Some argue the other reason for Earth Hour events are to simply have a good time. Coca-Cola is a major sponsor and they know how to back a good festival –just look at the Olympics. The festival hypothesis may explain the motives of mainstream participants, but not the chosen theme of the festival.

In contrast, one U.S. think tank is promoting Human Achievement Hour, designed to coincide with Earth Hour. It’s a meditation on economic and technological progress that, since 1800, has doubled life expectancies and fed six times more people than ever before. Human achievement all but eradicated countless diseases such as polio and tuberculosis; it also puts 300,000 new books on the shelves every year, and so on.

Anyone with the slightest intuition about modern society, though, would bet long odds against Human Achievement Hour being anything more than a fringe event. Popular culture has moved away from the values that created our prosperous society by choosing a festival that celebrates downplaying or opposing our wealth and technology.

At the most flourishing time in human history, popular culture takes human achievement for granted. Instead, it seeks symbolism that renounces the Enlightenment values of the last two hundred years—quantifiable data, measurable results, reason, and the liberation of humanity and nature from the effects of poverty which destroys both human souls and nature. In the broad sweep of history, movements such as Earth Hour are usually described as occult.

ACT on Campus at Earth Hour Canterbury 2008