Earth Hour: Throwing Shade At Poor Or Good Cause?

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The lights went out over many of the globe’s major landmarks last night.

From the Great Wall of China and pyramids of Egypt to the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, there was worldwide participation in the name of the annual trend called Earth Hour. Initiated by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2007, the act is meant to be a symbolic gesture to raise awareness and demonstrate terrestrial commitment. Those who participate, pay their penance to the planet for their ecological footprint on the last Saturday in March. After flipping the switch at 8:30, they sit in Stygian silence for sixty minutes, thinking about all the Watts they've wasted.

Or maybe they just go to sleep early.

Whether the masses spent their dark martyrdom meditating on our earth or not, Earth Hour is meant to "celebrate that trend and think about how we can switch the way we use electricity," according to Keya Chatterjee of the World Wildlife Fund.

Keya feels that major progress in conservation has been made, saying “In the last 18 months there have been more solar panels installed in the United States than in the previous 30 years. So we’re seeing a real trend."

Black-Opera House in Australia with lights sniped for zero dark Earthy:

But does this incandescent deprivation really motivate any real mass action? Or is it like the “no makeup selfie” craze that mutated from cancer awareness into self-centeredness?

Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg, director of Copenhagen Consensus Center, tends to think it sends the wrong message regarding electricity, while ignoring the plight of the numerous impoverished dwelling in perpetual darkness. The best-selling author who calls the practice an “ineffective feel-good event” indicated,“I think it’s a good way to get attention to the main problem of global warming. Namely that, yes it is a real problem but we’re not fixing it. I think we have no sense of the scale involved.”

Lomborg has said Earth Hour brings up easy dialogue regarding environmental issues – which results in no real resolution. A necessary (albeit tougher) talk, he believes, involves acknowledging the need for new technology in lieu of throwing money in vain at current ones that aren’t working. “We need to invest a lot more in research and development into green technology, which is not yet ready but should be ready so that everyone, and the Chinese and Indians, will buy it,” he suggested, before adding:

“And that’s the conversation that we're avoiding by just having this other showcase of how good a person you are by switching off the lights for an hour.”

There were billions more than Bjorn who didn’t dim the lights last night either.

That’s because they lack lights to turn off.

"1.3 billion people still don't have access to modern forms of electricity," explained Lomborg, "About three billion people use fuels like dung and cardboard and twigs to keep warm and cook. This is the world's biggest environmental problem. Not global warming, not even outdoor air pollution, it's indoor air pollution that kills 4.3 million people.”

What are your thoughts on the conservation conversation?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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