Walking into work on Saturday I was confronted with several posters for something called “Earth Hour,” an event promoted by the World Wildlife Fund. For those not in the know, “Earth Hour” was supposed to be a worldwide occasion for everyone to show their solidarity in support of the environment, and to raise awareness in others, by shutting off the lights from 8 to 9 pm. The posters claimed that it would not only be private individuals participating, but many businesses, and yes, even government organizations.
Now there’s a couple, more obvious, problems with this. First off any government entity claiming to fall in line with this proposal is mostly blowing smoke, because the 29th fell on a Saturday and most government buildings are closed over the weekend, and even more are done for the day by eight. The library I work at, for example, had posters all over the place for this thing, as I mentioned earlier, but closed at six. It’s a fairly easy commitment to shut off the lights when they would be out anyway.
But more importantly, as we’ve discussed in class many times, the issue of climate change boils down to a theory of over consumption causing future harm. In regards to that, I’m not sure how one hour without lights, once a year, helps. At best it would qualify as a blip on the radar. Especially since nowhere were you advised to cease using other power consuming devices. Indeed a flashlight seemed almost mandatory because participants were encouraged to use the time while the bulbs weren’t burning hot to replace them with “energy efficient fluorescent bulbs,” a task I’d find impossible in the darkness that pervades my domicile at 8, unless I had the aide of some kind of artificial light.
So while the claim was that this event would show everyone a way they could help if united together, at best it qualified as a stunt. And a poor one at that, because the only way “Earth Hour“ could conceivably make an impact is if it came round more then once a year, but several times a day.
Donald Boudreaux may well have had the best comment on the event stating, “Persuading people across the globe to turn off lights for one hour supplies the perfect symbol for modern environmentalism: a collective effort to return humankind to the dark ages.”
For years the acronym WWF, previously a wrestling brand, was associated with style over substance and presenting a completely fake product. It seems now that the World Wildlife Fund has inherited the title they can’t help but carry on the tradition and participate in a bit of chicanery themselves.