Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Earth Hour as far as raising awareness about protecting our environment goes.
However, it’s method, which is encouraging everyone to turn off the non-essential lights and appliances in their homes, businesses etc for one hour in order to cut back on power usage, I find lacking if not merely symbolic.
It is claimed that by turning off our lights for one hour throughout the world electricity consumption will be reduced which will in turn reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Well that’s true if the power plants that run on fossil fuels also ‘switch off’ during the Earth Hour event.
When in reality it does not. And this is where the ‘magic’ of Earth Hour fades away. Gavin Atkins has a plain explanation as to why this is so:
So here’s the thing: coal-fired plants are not like cars that require only enough fuel to meet demand – they require the same amount of fuel all of the time.
Whether or not everybody turns all of their electrical appliances on or off, it makes no difference to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. All of our coal-fired power stations will continue to burn coal and create carbon dioxide at the same rate because that’s how they operate.
Sure, electricity consumption might dip, but not carbon dioxide emissions. If anyone tells you that Earth Hour saved any amount of carbon dioxide emissions, they are lying.
Sure, Earth Hour reduces megawatts of electricity world wide but it’s just for 60 minutes of a single day in a year. After the hour has passed, we all go back to our unsustainable lifestyles. And again, while those who participated had their lights off during Earth Hour, the power plants continued to burn fossil fuels and emitted greenhouse gases so that when the event was over, there’s a ready supply of electricity to make sure everything goes back to normal.
Like what I’ve said at the beginning, raising awareness is good. But I think people are aware enough by now that it’s a good time to move on from awareness raising into something more concrete.
Which is why I liked the theme for this year’s Earth Hour, “Beyond the Hour” it may not be beyond Earth Hour or turning lights off for an hour itself, but at the very least it’s a sign that things are progressing along towards more concrete actions towards protecting the environment.
And because this is now a yearly event, Earth Hour is now becoming more trivialized than ever. It’s remaining to be a mere symbolic event. Tonyo Cruz got it spot on when he tweeted:
The point is simple, it’s time to move beyond Earth Hour itself and do concrete steps for the environment. Lobbying for more power plants that use renewable energy is a good start.