There are many legitimate reasons to conserve energy - the efficient use of resources, saving money and reducing our dependance on sources controlled by despotic wingnut regimes that don't have our best interests at heart, among others. Unfortunately, that's not what Earth Hour has become - it's now a way of publicly identifying and shaming members of households and businesses who don't agree with the anti-development, anti-capitalist anti-globalization movement. It's an annual metaphorical scarlet letter.
Right -wing paranoia? Perhaps. But consider the following items:
This is an excerpt from a letter to the editor that appeared in my local weekly community paper the week after last year's Earth Hour:
In some places, you could see the glow of a television. In others, the flicker of candles. A few seemed to have one light visible - perhaps for safety? A number of houses were darkened, but this was because no one was home. Fair enough. Yet, as we proceeded, lights were visible in more and more houses. Some people appeared to have gone out of their way to turn on every light they had. I almost wanted to knock on their door and ask if I could help them find any they had forgotten.
Still, I was sure the situation would be different downtown. I had faith the businesses of Stirling would do us proud with their participation and show of concern for the principle behind the activity.
Was I in for a disappointment! It did not appear as if even one had made any effort at all. A couple of stores were darkened, but they normally are anyway. Most others were lit up like proverbial Christmas trees, even ones I had definitely expected to participate. External signs, internal lights, the works. One store even had all the lights inside its deli counter fully ablaze. Sure wouldn't want those cheeses to spend the night in the dark.
Our public buildings were little better. Did you think no one would notice? Did you think your interest (or lack thereof) doesn't matter? Do you truly not care at all?
Certainly, in the larger scheme of things, the actual impact of the Earth Hour action on our energy use and environmental impact is irrelevant. That wasn't the point of the event. The point was to make a visible demonstration to governments, corporations, and to each other that we recognize there is a problem, we think it is important, we care, and we want to do something. Evidently, many residents, business people and public officials in Stirling do not fall into this category.
Shame on you.
Or this comment left by a commenter at SDA:
Last year when all the lights on the street went out I turned on every light in my house. My neighbors a few doors down had people over and were drinking wine by candlelight on the porch. One of them came down and banged on my door. I guess I kinda ruined the moment for them. She asked me if I knew it was earth hour. I said yes. Then she said ok and left.
In their defense the are very nice folks and apologized the next day. I just managed to tweak them at the right moment.
You know they are going to try and force us to turn out the lights soon. It will be considered a hate crime against the planet to leave them on during Earth Hour.
Or this item from Britain:
Now snooping on the public has reached new heights with local authorities putting spy planes in the air to snoop on homeowners who are wasting too much energy.
Thermal imaging cameras are being used to create colour-coded maps which will enable council officers to identify offenders and pay them a visit to educate them about the harm to the environment and measures they can take.
A scheme is already under way in Broadland District Council in Norfolk, which has spent £30,000 hiring a plane with a thermal imaging camera.
It's going to come to this - your neighbours will be roaming the streets politely suggesting that you comply "voluntarily". School children will be spying on their parents, shaming them into turning off the lights and reporting back to their teachers. Municipal officials will be dispatched to "educate" you about the harm you are doing to the environment. Isn't this a little creepy?
This year, Earth Hour compliance is being monitored by global warming activists to make a political statement. Consider this message at voteearth.org:
This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming. For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.
In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.
We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
Do you really want these people to "take control of the future of our planet"?
Peter Foster of the National Post wrote the best analysis of this phenomenon last year around this time in an article Earth Hour's soft fascism. Some excerpts:
Light, both natural and artificial, has traditionally been associated with The Good. A critical element of civilization has been the development of ever brighter, more flexible, and more reliable forms of illumination, from the tallow candle, through whale oil and kerosene, to Thomas Edison's marvellous invention of the electric light bulb.
Conversely, the absence of light is associated with primitivism and ignorance. Is it not significant, therefore, that radical environmentalists are seeking to persuade citizens of the world to flick the switch? Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver are among the cities planning to dim their lights this coming Saturday between 8 and 9 p.m. as part of "Earth Hour."
The cause, masterminded by the World Wildlife Fund, WWF, is allegedly to raise awareness of climate change. But what needs raising is not so much awareness as knowledge. People are woefully ignorant both about the uncertainties of climate-change science and the implications of climate-change politics. However, the WWF has no interest in discussing or debating the issue. According to them, we should "stop talking and start acting." Check your brains at the door.
Far from being a harmless gesture of support for the environment, Earth Hour is symbolic of a spreading soft fascism, aided by well-meaning individuals and well-meaning and/or cynical and/ or scared corporations. Indeed, what is truly astonishing, and disturbing, about this turn-out-the-lights exercise is how many businesses and corporations have signed on to it. According to the WWF Canada, they haven't had one "no" from any company they've approached.
WWF Canada, supported by -- among others -- the Toronto Star, Virgin Mobile, the City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro and Canwest's Global TV (Canwest owns this newspaper), is using Earth Hour as an opportunity to take its environmental indoctrination deeper into schools. It suggests that schools hold an event this Friday, and perhaps turn their gyms into cinemas, where they might show films such as -- you guessed it --An Inconvenient Truth!
I would suggest that the biggest current threat to our planet is not either climate change or the financial "crisis," but the mindless conformist tendency to support ideas such as Earth Hour, which are aimed at the levers of both electrical and political power.
If you love civilization, freedom and the use of reason, keep on all the lights you need on Saturday. Take Back the Night.
Do it now while you still have a choice