Earth Hour

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Last year, when Earth Hour came rolling around, I was criticized for supporting the cause/initiative/date/event. Here’s why:

  • Even if every person in the entire world turned off all residential lighting, it would be the same as China stopping its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes
  • Earth hour causes emissions to increase because any significant reduction in electricity demand will result in a surge from firing up coal or gas stations to re-establish electricity supplies later
  • Using one candle for light cancels out any CO2 reduction you saved from turning out the lights and using two candles means that you effectively emit more CO2 due to the fact that candles are 100 times less efficient than incandescent light bulbs
  • Electricity has reduced indoor air pollution from stoves and electricity has created a vast amount of benefits by mechanizing the world

But alas after hearing these great arguments I am still on the Earth Hour bandwagon.

Earth Hour is not about cutting a significant amount of energy through encouraging people and companies to turn off their lights for an hour. No, it is an awareness campaign. The World Wildlife Fund even shows right on their Earth Hour website page by not keeping track of how much energy is saved. I have been reminded a couple of times by my Marketing Professor that an event is not necessarily a waste of time because it loses money, but rather if it raises significant awareness for your cause, then it can be priceless.

Awareness campaigns can often seem like a complete waste by making you spend time and money on telling people about or convincing people to support your cause, instead of actually doing a concrete something. Earth Hour is a great example of this as its value is in making people aware of earth’s environmental crisis. Earth Hour aims to unite people to protect the planet by asking them to commit to reducing their environmental impact by doing something that isn’t overwhelming: turning off a light. Small steps can lead to big change.

Now that we are all aware, we have another 8759 hours left to, little by little, reduce our environmental impact. HERE are nine way to reduce your impact.

As always: comments, questions, concerns or even random thoughts? I would love if you shared them with me so please comment below!

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7 thoughts on “Earth Hour

  1. Exactly. It’s all about awareness and getting people to talk about it. On the plus side, even bad publicity gets people talking which definitely raises awareness. I wonder if Earth hour started as a real lets turn off the lights and see how main we save and how dark can we get it, and they someone realized the real power was in the buzz it generated- positive and negative.

    • Wikipedia says that Earth Hour was started as a smaller event in Australia with goals to “[engage] Australians on the issue of climate change” and then it grew from there. So that would suggest that it was always about awareness. Thanks for your response!

  2. While energy conservation is certainly admirable, I think it is necessary to recognize the importance energy has had in our development, and the importance it plays in our everyday life.

    • Why of course! But the Earth Hour is so much more than that. It’s raising awareness to encourage people to reduce their environmental impact…in whatever way you want!

  3. The criticisms of Earth Hour include:
    Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, wrote, “It is vital to make solar and other new technology cheaper than fossil fuels quickly so we can turn off carbon energy sources for a lot longer than one hour and keep the planet running… Fossil fuels literally gave us an enlightenment, by lighting our world and giving us protection from the fury of the elements. It is ironic that today’s pure symbolism should hark back to a darker age.”
    The Christian Science Monitor said that most candles are made from paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil, a fossil fuel, and that depending on how many candles a person burns (if one uses candles during Earth Hour), whether or not they normally use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and what source of energy is used to produce their electricity, in some cases, replacing light bulbs with candles will cause an increase, instead of a decrease, in carbon dioxide emissions.
    On 29 March 2009, one day after Earth Hour 2009, Dân Trí daily newspaper published an article about the other side of Earth Hour. It was concerned that many young people chose to drive around the darkened cities for fun, exhausting petroleum instead of electricity and resulting in long-time traffic jams.
    In 2009, economist Ross McKitrick criticized the idea, saying, “Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century…. The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity.”
    In March 2010, the Daily Telegraph quoted Ross Hayman, head of media relations at the UK National Grid, as saying “it could therefore result in an increase in carbon emissions” due to complications related to rapidly lowering then raising electricity generation.
    In February 2010, Rick Giles, president of ACT on Campus, the youth wing of New Zealand’s ACT Party, appeared on the morning television show Sunrise to denounce Earth Hour and instead suggested the celebration of “Edison Hour”. He argued that Earth Hour is an “anti-technology” cause, and that people will simply use candles instead, which is undesirable as they are petroleum-based. He argued that if we are heading for some kind of disaster, it makes sense to use technology to combat this. Rick said “I think my argument is so powerful that it’s not necessary to talk about it”.
    An alternative celebration of “Human Achievement Hour” was promoted by the libertarian think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute to celebrate the advancement of human prosperity.
    Participants in this celebration were asked to “celebrate the achievements of humanity such as eating dinner, seeing a film, driving around, keeping the heat on in your home”.
    The Ayn Rand Institute wrote, “Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away… Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month… Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible.”
    Expressing sarcastic support for Earth Hour, the pro-carbon “Carbon Sense Coalition” wants Earth Hour to be renamed “Blackout Night”, and to be held outside on the shortest and coldest day of the year “…to prepare our population for the dark days ahead”.
    During the 2010 Earth Hour in the city of Uusikaupunki in Finland, a 17-year-old female motorcyclist hit a 71-year-old man, who was walking on the street instead of the sidewalk for an unknown reason. The man died from his injuries, while the motorcyclist and her passenger were uninjured. At the time of the accident the street lights had been turned off as part of the Earth Hour. The police stated that the lack of street lighting may have played a part in the accident, while the mayor believed the city’s street lights would have been too dim to prevent it even if they had been on.
    Jeremy Clarkson, host of the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, confessed to switching on all electrical items in his home as a protest against the perceived impact of Earth Hour, claiming the event would have little to no effect on attitudes towards climate change.

    • Thank you for making my followers aware of more criticisms of Earth Hour! However, as i said above, its about the awareness of reducing your environmental impact, not necessarily stopping your use of energy. .

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