Earth Hour

Earth Hour came and went over the weekend. There has been a lot of debate on the blogs over its merits: some support it, but many think it’s a waste of time. The goal of Earth Hour isn’t to save the world in one hour by reducing emissions from lighting; it’s to raise awareness of climate change. Given the amount of discussion about it that’s been generated I can only imagine that it’s been a huge success, regardless of whether everyone turned their lights off. I haven’t seen so much discussion of the best way to save power across the blogs and news media in ages!

Of course, any major environmental cause causes some crazies to come out of the woodwork. A few obtuse people have promoted the alternative Edison Hour, where people celebrate technology by turning their lights on. The Ayn Rand Institute says:

Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month… Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible.

They seem to think that promoting a sustainable planet is equivalent to a rejection of technology. Nothing could be further from the truth: to create a sustainable civilisation on Earth we will probably have to rely on a lot of advanced technology that has yet to be created. It’s not that greenies reject technology, they just think that it should be created with sustainability in mind so that we’ll still be able to enjoy it in the next millennium.

  • StephenR

    Odd that some people refuse to believe that ‘greenies’ could exist outside of electricity-less communes that survive by trading mud bricks for mung beans.

    Good point about the attention Earth Hour drew – reminds me of when Bob Geldoff came to NZ to talk about aid, all the attacks on him really did get the issue out there 😀

  • Eric Crampton

    I’d always thought that, if I wasn’t right, I was at least acute. Now I have rauparaha calling me obtuse. And possibly crazy. I’ll turn it around on him. Suppose you have some big project using electricity that you want to do. Like building a new box for your power board. You know that baseload is usually hydroelectric in the South Island, and that at times of peak demand coal and gas get ramped up. If you want to minimize footprint, should you plan your consumption for a time when you’re pretty sure there’s a downwards spike in demand, or when you can’t tell whether you’ll be inducing coal or gas to ramp up a bit?

    And you call yourself an environmentalist. Bah.

    Or, think of it this way. A good chunk of the warm and fuzzy feelings that many environmentalists get from Earth Hour is in feeling better than all those jerks who don’t turn their lights off. I’m consequently providing a service to y’all: someone compared to whom you can feel superior if that’s how ya get your jollies. Enjoy!

  • @Eric Crampton
    Haha, that’s true. If you do just enjoy having lots of lights on then I guess there’s no better time to do it, if you know what you know about electricity generation.

    You’re probably right about the warm fuzzies that greenies get from feeling righteous. On the other hand, I think Edison Hour types just got their jollies from giving the finger to all the greenies. If you can justify your consumption as minimising your footprint then I hardly think you’ll be invited to Edison Hour parties 😉

  • Eric Crampton

    Last year, I admit having enjoyed the “giving the finger” jollies, though the result was observationally equivalent to actually trying to minimize footprint given knowledge of how electricity generation works and given the need to build a new power box. I’ve been trying to purge my utility function of expressive arguments though and so worked to abstain this year either way…just carried on as normal and played a bit of Wii.