Just a quick entry to make everyone aware that Earth Hour is about to kick off!
Saturday 24th March, 8:30pm local time, everyone is encourage to show their support for protecting the environment and fight climate change by doing one simple thing: turn off the lights for one hour, and have some fun!
What’s the point? Is it just a gimmick? Well, the collective action of simply turning out lights reduces energy consumption enough to be registered by a country’s electricity grid. The effect has even been noted by scientific studies. The movement has also been used to fund-raise and gain support for initiatives as outlined in this video:
However, in 2012 the Huffington Post ran an article called “Does Earth Hour Do More Harm Than Good?”. I think it is well-written and well-reasoned. But I think that the fact that some media outlets or participants might misinterpret the event (or ignore it’s purpose completely) is not a reason to stop doing it completely. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) clearly communicates the bigger-picture of Earth Hour, then any kind of action that raises awareness can only be good. So, ok, there may be a slight ‘up-tick’ in emissions in some places some of the time at the end of Earth Hour, but if that hour has changed attitudes for the longer-term, it’s a net-saving. If the worry of an ‘up-tick’ in emissions was such a problem, then isn’t it the same argument to have researchers not to fly or ship around the world (because of the transport emissions) to study the natural environment? Can you imagine how much worse-off we’d be without that knowledge, and yes, the initial ‘carbon-investment’ in order to get it? I know this sounds like a hypocritical argument, but the term ‘investment’ is very much applicable. No investment is without cost, but a good investment is one ending in profit, i.e. a carbon cost that is far outweighed by a carbon saving (same argument for building renewable energy sources or bicycles).
Raising awareness when done with consideration and without force also empowers others to use their free-will to do what they want with the new knowledge. Back at my school, for example, participating in Earth Hour is made into a house competition, but for the week running up to it, pastoral time and year-group assemblies are used to educate the students the message behind Earth Hour. If that causes a handful student to convince their families (from an energy hungry country) to make a habit into consuming less energy, how could that be seen as ‘more harm than good’? Worse-case scenario is that it’s a bit of fun…
If you want to go further than just simply turn out the lights, The Guardian has a good article about what other people are doing to maximise their personal Earth Hour impact for the hour and beyond.
So I really hope you do join in. But do make sure you appreciate the message behind Earth Hour and use the hour as a catalyst for changes that can reduce your own carbon emissions and, of course, save you money on energy bills! 🙂