Earth Hour Is Stupid

Tomorrow is the day we're supposed to celebrate Earth Hour. Wherever you live, between 8:30 and 9:30pm local time you're supposed to turn off as much of your electronics as you can, in an effort to help save the world from Global Warming. If only it were that simple, it wouldn't be such a pointless exercise.

Now, I need to make a distinction here: there's Earth Hour in North America, and there's Earth Hour everywhere else. Everywhere else, Earth Hour is actually relevant: people are turning off their lights because they want to show solidarity against rising global temperatures. In North America, however, it's totally different. Oh the method is the same, but the result isn't anywhere close to what's intended. This is the Earth Hour I'm talking about here.

Earth Hour Logo

Earth Hour started in Australia in March 2007, as 2.2 million people and a couple thousand businesses turned off their lights for an hour. That's slightly less than 10% of Australia's total population at the time. And it was good: a bunch of money was saved on electricity, the point was gotten across, and in April they wanted to make it an annual thing. But other countries saw what was happening and decided they wanted in on the action too. That's where it all started to go downhill.

See, in North America, Earth Hour isn't actually about the environment at all. Oh, there are a handful of people who turn off their lights because they genuinely care about the environment, but odds are those people are already doing more than most to save energy and do their part for the environment, so that makes them irrelevant to Earth Hour because their impact is minimal at best.

No, in North America, Earth Hour exists to give wasteful assholes an excuse to feel good about themselves for "doing their part for the environment." They turn on every light in their house all day, leave TVs on when they're not even in the room, drive big fucking trucks that get half a mile to the gallon, but somehow turning off their lights for an hour shows they care.


So you turn your lights off for an hour. Big fucking deal. There's about 8,766 hours in a year. Assuming you're asleep for 2,765 of them, you're still being a selfish and wasteful prick for the other 6,000. Take your head out of your ass and pay attention.

Candles start fires

First of all, the recommended replacement light source is candles. This is dumb. Candles are one of the biggest causes of house fires there are, and most house fires are caused by user negligence, meaning not knowing how to safely use something that generates heat. If you only use candles to light the way for Earth Hour, that places you squarely in the middle of that group.

Further, most candles are made from paraffin wax, which is made from petroleum. So you're literally replacing a light source that might come from fossil fuels with one that absolutely does come from fossil fuels. And if you want enough light to actually do something comfortably, like read or play a board game, then you're going to need a LOT of candles. And if you're already doing your part by using efficient light bulbs, you may actually be polluting more by switching to candles for an hour.

Candles should only be used for one of two reasons: for religious ceremonies if appropriate, and for emergencies. The time being between 8:30pm and 9:30pm on the fourth Saturday of March doesn't count as an emergency, no matter how you try to spin it.

Now, suppose you want to watch TV during Earth Hour. The TV produces its own light, so candles aren't needed, right? Yes your TV produces its own light, but unless your TV is a projector that throws the image up on a wall or screen you shouldn't watch it in the dark. Projected light, like that which comes from a computer screen or TV, is really bad for the eyes if it's the only light source in the room. So if you want to watch TV without hurting your eyes, you're back to lighting candles again. And if you're watching TV you're less likely to be paying attention to the candles, which means you're more likely to have an accident with them. So TV is out.

Basically, unless you want to pollute with candles or be doing something in the dark, you're going to have to leave your house. And how do you get places when you leave your house? You drive. Do you own a Chevy Volt yet? No? Then in your efforts not to pollute by lights you're polluting by car instead. But Chris, I drive where I'm going before Earth Hour starts, and drive back after it ends. Irrelevant. You still drove, and it's a trip you wouldn't have taken otherwise, so you still polluted with your car instead of having lights on.

If you really want to make a difference in the environment, Earth Hour isn't the way. Yes it saves a bunch of energy for one hour, but it's the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a leaking dam, and then taking it off again 2 seconds later. Turning your lights off for Earth Hour is like putting a flag on your car to support the troops: it's the very least you can do, but it's the most you're willing to do. Well fuck you then.

If you want to help the environment, you don't pretend to care for an hour, you change your wasteful habits. Switch to low-energy light bulbs. Change your thermostat a couple degrees lower in Winter and a couple degrees higher in Summer. Turn things off when you leave the room. Trade your truck in for a small car. Walk or bike places more instead of driving. Take public transit. If these simple steps (and they are simple) are too hard or too inconvenient for you to do any of them, then don't pretend that you give a shit about the environment. You're obviously more concerned with your own comfort level and convenience than you are with helping out, and pretending to care for an hour isn't going to change anything. Now go fuck off back into your hole and waste more money.

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