Earth Hour

Earth Hour 60+ LogoToday is the 6th time Earth Hour will be held to raise awareness about the need for action on global warming. Considering this event started in just one city the current number of participants is a testament to how effective this awareness campaign is:

Earth Hour is the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world. Born out of a hope that we could mobilize people to take action on climate change, Earth Hour now inspires a global community of millions of people in 7,001 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories to switch lights off for an hour as a massive show of concern for the environment.

A campaign so effective that it has become the focus of a lot of the so-called sceptics, who are currently attempting to reframe the message of Earth Hour.

What the campaign asks of anyone that participates is to turn off non-essential lights for one hour and leave on anything that is needed for public safety or for doing your tasks. This is done to raise awareness on energy waste and finding ways of being more energy-efficient. As it both helps the environment and saves you money.

The so-called sceptics are focussing on the turn off the lights message and reframing the meaning of this simple act. Lets take the Competitive Enterprise Institute and their Human Achievement Hour counter campaign as an example:

On March 23, some people will be sitting in the dark to express their “vote” for action on global climate change. Instead, you can join CEI and the thousands of people around the world who will be celebrating Human Achievement Hour (HAH). Leave your lights on to express your appreciation for the inventions and innovations that make today the best time to be alive and the recognition that future solutions require individual freedom not government coercion.

What they are attempting to do is to reframe the message to one where Earth Hour is about taking a technological step backwards. While Earth Hour is actually about calling attention to energy waste and a call for action for more efficiency so we don’t harm the environment. A far cry from what the CEI is trying to convey here.

Another big thing is that they are trying to equate this with freedom of choice. This campaign is not about taking away your choice to use electricity or powering whatever technology that you use. It’s about moving away from fossil fuels that we know are harming the environment and shift to energy sources that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and won’t run out on us. While also sending a message about being efficient in how we use our electricity.

I do agree a bit with them that Earth Hour in itself won’t make a big difference. Don’t get me wrong, they are making a difference, we just need to do more than the few good changes that have come out of this campaign. Earth Hour is also a bit of feel good moment for people, it makes them feel they are making a big difference which can lead to them not taking the next step.

What I’m trying to convey here is that focussing on energy efficiency and switching to sustainable energy sources is not something you do in preparation for one hour, or just during one hour. What I’m trying to convey is that every hour of every day of the year should be Earth Hour. That’s how you make a big difference, that’s the next step we need to take for significant change.

Now what will I be doing during Earth Hour? Nothing.

Well, nothing in the sense that I won’t change anything. I already have energy-efficient lighting, efficient appliances and don’t have anything on that doesn’t need to be on. I’ll probably be enjoying a movie on my very efficient LED TV or reading/writing on my laptop which at the most uses 20 Watts of electricity (peak load).

I’m someone who always pays attention to what I do and I’ve saved a lot of money on electricity bills because of it. And I haven’t been sitting in the dark, or in the cold, or without any modern technology.

Collin Maessen is the founder and editor of Real Skeptic and a proponent of scientific skepticism. For his content he uses the most up to date and best research as possible. Where necessary consulting or collaborating with scientists.