Earth Hour – what a crock

I am very pleased that I managed to avoid Earth Hour: what an absolute crock. In fact, I was at a Chinese restaurant at the relevant time. “I wonder if they’ll turn out the lights?” mused my husband. Not a chance, and thank goodness for that. I didn’t see much evidence of participation on the drive home either, but nor did I see much evidence of excessive lighting use either.

I saw the whole thing as a giant publicity stunt with very little real impact on the environment or carbon emissions. It was just a way for middle class greenies to feel good about themselves without actually having to sacrifice much at all.

I can’t help thinking of a documentary I saw recently about strict Mennonites trying to survive in the modern world. The strictest adherents to this sect do not use electricity and use old fashioned means of transport such as horse and buggy. In modern times, this has meant that the communities cannot compete economically. They are not self-sufficient, and cannot generate enough produce, because they do not use modern farming methods and implements. Some communities have decided to use electricity in an effort to survive. Others continue to refuse to use electricity, and keep to the old ways, but it is extremely hard.

Proponents of Earth Hour should try living like strict Mennonites for a month. Turning the lights off for an hour? Pshaw. What a weak gesture. To make a real difference, turn out the electricity for a month, and in a world that has electricity all around you. 

From what I could see, life without electricity was very, very hard. Some of the people were the same age as I, but looked years older, presumably because they had been working in the fields since they were young and because they had many children to care for. One of the most poignant moments for me was when a woman from a community without electricity was discussing dentistry with a man from a community with electricity. I couldn’t help being appalled at the idea of dentistry without electricity. Yowch. I also wonder what kind of training these people had in dentistry; schooling is very limited, and teaching outside the Bible is not allowed.

Interestingly, all the strict Mennonites had an ambivalent attitude to electricity. Those whose communities had introduced it said that in some ways, it made work a lot easier, and it certainly helped their communities be productive enough to survive. On the other hand, they also said it meant that the young men of the village were able to escape and get drunk, and that young people were exposed to television and the outside world a lot more. The innocence of the young had not been able to be preserved in the same way. Nonetheless, I can’t help thinking that keeping young people from knowledge and learning is wrong: innocence really comes about through ignorance. Obviously, I don’t want my daughter to be exposed to certain kinds of knowledge until I consider that she is old enough to understand it, but I don’t want her to be ignorant either. Another sad vignette concerned a young man who had decided to leave his community, but he did not have enough education to do much outside his community. His ignorance prevented him from having choice.

No, one shouldn’t waste electricity, and we certainly try not to do so in my household. Quite apart from the environmental issues, we can’t afford a big electricity bill. But I do wonder about these people who call for us to “drastically cut our carbon emissions”. How do they propose that we achieve that, precisely? If turning the lights off for an hour has very little or no impact, clearly they would call for more “drastic” measures. Well, I’ll let them try living like Mennonites first. I wonder how long they’d last?


Forgive me, I’m a cynic. But apparently it’s all about branding, darlings. Earth Hour was the brain child of advertising agency Leo Burnett. Now why doesn’t that surprise me? As Peter Foster, the author of the Canadian article linked above, says:

The presence of Leo Burnet [sic] indicates that this is very much about business and branding (a bit ironic for the No Logo crowd, surely). Guidelines about how the Earth Hour brand must be used are available on the WWF Canada Web site, along with the information that: “The Earth Hour tone of voice is human, optimistic, inclusive, passionate and caring. The Brand should never appear to be aggressive or use scare tactics to incite participation.”

How this squares with all the greatest-threat-the-world-has-ever-seen stuff escapes me, but what the hell, this is about business and power, not truth.

I’m sure the WWF is loving all the extra publicity. Not to mention the SMH.



Filed under climate change, Earth Hour, environment, religion

14 responses to “Earth Hour – what a crock

  1. Pingback: Self Help » Blog Archive » Earth Hour - what a crock

  2. Yes indeed LE it is a crock and I said so at mine as well.

  3. pete m

    The funny part is they say it is to raise awareness and to force government change.

    1. We all already know about climate change. Is it really about forcing us to accept it is man made?

    2. The government is rapidly talking and introducing all the climate change initiatives these people have asked for. Some people have asked for population reductions (seriously! – but they don’t mention how we’ll reduce population – sounds ghoulish doesn’t it?), but protest wars. I don’t get it.

    The farce comes from knowledge that burning a candle releases more co2 than burning a light bulb, and that one of the biggest killers of third world peoples is smoke based diseases from their wood burning and candle burning. So they are protesting for change by mimicking that which kills a lot more reliably than any climate change ever will.

    This religion is getting scary.

  4. Some of the ostentatious light shows that modern cities seem to revel in but serve no significant purpose could well be turned off every night, surely.

  5. Neil, I totally agree that some of the ostentatious lighting, particularly that which is left on in unoccupied buildings and shops, should be turned off. It’s a waste. But it shouldn’t just be turned off for one hour in a token gesture – such lighting should be turned off all the time.

  6. chencenter

    I have to say that I disagree with you guys (not entirely…but for the most part). You have to take into account just how lazy and self-serving we, as a society have become. You might have seen a difference if it (Earth Hour) was pasted all over the television and radio…but it wasn’t. I actually participated (having forgotten about it earlier in the day) when I ventured to google and saw a completely dark website (saying that “lights were out at google”). The truth is, is that it DOES raise awareness. Energy saved is energy saved. But those handful of people that feel that they can make a change… why on earth would you hold them back and say that their well-intentioned efforts are in vain.

  7. green4u

    I completely disagree. This was meant to be an example of the ways you can help the environment. By going around and shutting off and unplugging things that use energy you can see how much you are using. Even doing something that helps the environment for an hour is better than never doing it.

  8. pete m

    chencentre – I disagree society is lazy. I disagree we are wontanly (sp?) wasting electricity, especially at home. No energy was “saved” as the electricity was still produced (this is what counts, not whether it was used). Most States showed an increase in energy usage during that period, with Qld 1 of the few showing any marked reduction.

    Lastly, please advise why the Earth has cooled since 1998. If this year continues its average temperature change displayed in the first 3 months, we will have erased all of the recorded 20th century warming. Explain that too.

  9. What is the point of doing something which has very little or no impact at all? It’s just a useless token gesture.

    Initiatives like Earth Hour make it seem like it will be “easy” to cut down on energy use, when in fact if we are going to cut down on energy use in any meaningful way, it will not be easy at all.

  10. LE, well said. I’ve been moaning privately about Earth Hour for the past couple of weeks.

    The people and organisations that are genuinely committed to helping the environment already do these things without needing to stage a rally in Federation Square. I don’t understand how turning off applicances/lights/brains for ONE measly hour makes people feel good. It needs to be a constant, rather than token, effort in order to achieve any lasting change.

    Otherwise you may as well go ahead and call the blackouts caused by today’s windstorm ‘Earth Hour I’.

  11. BC, my hubby tells me that his work lauded its success at cutting emissions during Earth Hour. This was apparently in part because it made sure all its employees had switched off their PCs before leaving…why don’t the employees switch off the PCs all the time before leaving? What’s the point of having your PC on over the weekend when you’re not there? It’s understandable if you do happen to have to work weekends, but otherwise…what a terrible waste.

  12. Further to this LE, we received an email at work last week saying that we now had a groundbreaking new environmental policy of TURNING LIGHTS OFF AT NIGHT. Well, I never!

    Who ever would have thought to do that? Wonder how much we paid the consultants for this stroke of genius…

  13. LOL! Well at least they are trying something…seems like a no-brainer to me though!

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