Earth Hour You Say

So Earth Hour came and went, and I turned off my house lights and non-essential electrical appliances just like the hippies wanted. It’s no skin off my nose. I was playing Assassin’s Creed 2 on my PC at the time and didn’t need the lights on anyway. Hey don’t look at me like that: to me a PC is an essential appliance.

I can’t say I’m all that amused by Earth Hour. Sure some hip young things across the globe might think it’s a good idea to turn off their electric for an hour or so, and maybe for every one of them that turned their lights out, another five people were busy watching CSI on Channel Five. The street lights still blazed on across the world, the wheels of industry still turned and when the lights went back on the world was still the same.

Critics say the effect of earth hour is negligible. That the net effect across the entire world is virtually the equivalent of putting half a dozen cars of f the road for one year. Give me a sledgehammer and immunity from prosecution and I’m sure I could do twice that in an hour.

The organisers say that the net effect isn’t the  point. They say the point is to raise awareness off climate change and to point out that everyone can make a difference. The trouble is that the people behind this are assuming that people naturally want to help save the world. That they are as idealistic, and perhaps optimistic, as they are. They believe that a grand demonstration, such as Earth Hour, will be enough to get people seriously thinking about how they can impact on climate change.

I believe they’re deluded.

They’re deluded because they’ve made an assumption that human beings are proactive and altruistic, but if we’re approaching this realistically, and honestly, we must first admit that humans are selfish, self serving bastards of the highest order. I don’t blame humans for that though. It’s what dragged us from the swirling soup of single celled organisms to the lofty heights of space travel, quantum mechanics, representational democracy and the X-Factor.

Our very nature, and the nature of all life, is to reproduce, multiply and expand for as long as there are resources to sustain us. We didn’t make it to the top of the food chain by helping out strangers, avoiding using resources or acting in moderation. We slaughtered, burned and fought tooth and nail for our place in the world, and that struggle for survival is still deeply ingrained in us. We won’t turn out the lights because we expect that others will do it. We, each individually, need our light to be on, because we need that light  no matter what effect having it on may have on future generations.

How many times have you gotten in the car and thought about how every trip, long or short, could be poisoning the air, the ground and the seas for future generations. I bet you didn’t give it a minutes thought as you turned the ignition. The only thing on your mind was where you were headed, and what you were going to do when you got there.

This is why I believe that Earth Hour will never have the effect that they imagine. The vast majority of people don’t see it as a serious attempt at education. They see it as a novelty, a grand spectacle. They turn off their lights for an hour, and the world looks funny on the pictures from space, but they haven’t learned anything. When the hour is up their light goes back on, and life goes on, as though nothing has changed.

Because it hasn’t.

1 Response to “Earth Hour You Say”


  1. 1 MCDOWALL April 4, 2010 at 13:38

    The point of earth hour is to raise awareness by utilising the corporate media machine that we are all beholden to, not to have a practical effect!


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