Friday, March 27, 2009

Earth Hour -- seriously?

March 28 marks the arrival of Earth Hour, an international project that involves turning off all lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time. The website says,

"For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming."
Seriously? Will this produce quantifiable productive results, or is it an attempt to make people feel better amid their fear about global warming?



Blogger Patrick B. said...

The company I work for sent out an email to all employees (about 50,000 in the US) urging them to take part in this. I responded to the person in charge and gave them information on the "lights out" programs some cities do during migration. They seemed genuinely interested.

March 27, 2009 1:58 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Kudos for sharing the Lights Out info, Patrick! Those efforts appear much more effective, IMHO.

March 27, 2009 2:11 PM  
Blogger John B. said...

I think the "lights out" or FLAP initiatives are useful since they save energy over the long term and prevent bird deaths. I'm not convinced "Earth Hour" is effective, either as an energy saver or as a protest.

March 27, 2009 6:11 PM  
Blogger Jason Kessler said...

I think these stunts, good intentioned as they may be, are paliative at best, and may do more harm then good. They give people a place to park the concern they feel they SHOULD have for conservation and climate issues, and make them feel they're doing their part when, in fact, they've done very little.

It's like people who wear an AIDS ribbon pin to show they care, but in fact have given themselves a convenient way to STOP caring.

But leave it to Patrick (with all he has on HIS mind these days) to turn a We-Are-The-World moment like "Earth Hour" into something constructive. Kudos indeed, sir!

March 28, 2009 10:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think it's kind of ridiculous, honestly. I haven't heard enough about it from sources outside the Internet. As for me, my house lights will be off all night. Will that show my dedication to our planet? No. It will show that I'm at a big event with a group of friends, eating, drinking, and making merry.

I'd rather see every business regularly turn their lights off at night when no one is in the building. Drives me NUTS to see businesses with their lights on all night. Is it laziness? Theft deterrent? What? THe Lights Out program should be world-wide . . . not just for migratory birds but for energy savings.

March 28, 2009 11:33 AM  
Blogger doug said...

Hi Amy et al,

The Ayn Rand Institute has an op-ed out that makes an interesting rebuttal to "Earth Hour" concept. While I am certain that many of you will not agree with the viewpoint espoused, it is at least a substantive argument that I think warrants being addressed on its own terms.

Here's an excerpt:

"Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month, without any form of fossil fuel energy? 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."

The op-ed is titled "The Real Meaning of Earth Hour". You can read it in its entirety here:

March 28, 2009 1:05 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Doug, why are you "certain that many of you will not agree with the viewpoint espoused"? Do you confidently assume that most birders share the same view on the topic?

March 28, 2009 1:11 PM  
Blogger doug said...

Oh, definitely. My birding acquaintances and nature-enthusiast friends practically regard global warming as self-evident. I think they would be surprised if I were to say that I'm still undecided whether global warming is true, let alone catastrophic. I'm curious: what makes you ask?

While I feel that my indecision would be met with surprise, with something as controversial, complex, and implication-bearing as catastrophic global warming, I think it's very important for everyone to take their time and try to familiarize themselves with the evidence and reasoning as much as possible. (It's actually been quite difficult to find good resources toward this end; recommendations are welcome.)

March 28, 2009 2:24 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Doug, I'll respectfully suggest that your sample might be too small to confidently assume that most birders accept global warming as self-evident and that they readily support projects like Earth Hour. Perhaps the skeptical replies here about Earth Hour bear that out?

March 28, 2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger Dawn Fine said...

I believe that every little bit helps...any way to get the public involved and feeling good about how they may be helping whatever small manner they can helps.
I cant understand you who feel that this is palliative...
OK..then do nothing...
For some Americans..this is big..So what if it isn't "the answer"
You cant change people overnight.
But a enlightening a step at a better that doing nothing

March 28, 2009 6:16 PM  
Blogger Connie said...

Great question thoughs, Amy and I like Doug's thought provoking post. I myself am not convinced about the "global-warming-earth-headed-for-disaster-if-we-don't-do-something" theme. Should we all be more energy efficient and aware? Of course! Is one hour going to make a substantial difference? Not likely. I have to agree with Opposable Chums here too. Once people by the ribbon or turn their lights our for an hour, their contribution to help things is accomplished..

March 29, 2009 6:31 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

My word, I guess I should have proofed that comment first.. Should have been "good question and thoughts"

And: "Buy" the ribbon..

My sincere, editorial, apologies.

March 29, 2009 6:33 AM  

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