In 1914 Sir Edward Grey said to a friend one evening just before the outbreak of the First World War, as he watched the lights being lit on the street below his office: "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
In that instance, it was the Great War that loomed. Now the Great Forgetting looms and, from time to time, it washes across the world. "Earth Hour" is such a dark moment as millions either choose to, or thanks to their compliant or complacent local governments suffer through, an hour in the dark.
Once upon a time we knew enough to curse the darkness. In the aeons long climb from the muck, we have only had the ability to hold back the dark for a bit over a century. Now millions yearn to embrace it and, should they yearn long enough and hard enough, the darkness will embrace them and hold them for much longer than a brief hour of preening and self-regard.
Read the whole thing, and then join me tonight in turning on all the lights during Earth Hour to show your defiance against this ridiculous mass mania.
UPDATE: The National Post agrees: Keep your lights on
But Earth Hour is not designed to be scientific, rational, or even constructive. It is designed to inspire fear and assuage guilt.
Feel-good activities such as Earth Hour primarily appeal to three constituencies: the young, the idealistic and those who would prey on their ignorance. The latter category includes politicians, climate change activists and people with other agendas, specifically anti-capitalist, anti-growth and anti-prosperity.
Indeed, the idea that we will progress by regressing is not only at the core of Earth Hour, but of the entire anti-climate-change movement. If we lived simpler, more frugal (translation less comfortable, less productive) lives, the thinking goes, we could take the planet back to a pristine state. Man is the problem, and he should scale back his activities.
This rationale ignores the fact that for every environmental concern humanity has experienced or engendered, it has also found a solution. Scrubbers remove particulate from smokestacks. Laws penalize and discourage water pollution. Private property ownership helps conserve wetlands. More efficient engines replace less efficient ones, saving fuel and reducing emissions.
These advances are not driven by regression; rather, they are driven by technological innovation, consumer demand, and the rule of law. Ironically, it is the countries that lack these things which are unable to celebrate Earth Hour. Their citizens haven't achieved the prosperity necessary to benefit from an innovation that we in the First World take for granted--universal electric light. Most people in the Third World will spend Earth Hour in darkness, as they do every day.
Earth Hour has it backwards; it's the light that saves us, not the dark.