Category Archive 'Earth Hour'

27 Mar 2011

Earth Hour, 2011

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The lights went out in Southern California, and other centers of contemporary intellectual life, last night as the bien pensant intelligentsia cursed the technology that delivers light and embraced the darkness.

KTLA News reported the day before:

Notable Southern California landmarks such as the glowing pylons at Los Angeles International Airport and the Queen Mary in Long Beach will go dark between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday night in observance of international “Earth Hour.”

Millions of people from more than 100 countries and territories are expected to participate in the event by switching off lights and nonessential appliances in order to conserve energy and demonstrate an awareness of environmental conservation.

At LAX, the 100-foot-tall pylons will glow solid green an hour before the event and then go dark, according to airport officials. The color-changing LAX Gateway pylons were installed in August 2000. Five years later, airport workers installed a new system of LED fixtures that consume 75% less electricity than the previous lamps and burn for 75,000 to 100,000 hours, compared to 3,000 hours for the original lights, according to airport officials.

In Long Beach the Queen Mary’s exterior lights will be turned off. The event will be accompanied by entertainment, such as the ship’s captain answering historical questions and local competitive cyclists producing energy for a light display. Participants will also receive vendor giveaways. Hotel guests will be asked to turn off their nonessential stateroom lights.

In Santa Monica, the famous Pacific Wheel on the city’s pier will go dark. The ferris wheel’s emergency lights will remain on.

At the Home Depot Center in Carson, in partnership with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, will turn off all nonessential lighting of the 27,000-seat soccer stadium, including all lighting in the venue’s 42 luxury suites, according to AEG, the company that owns and operates the venue. The Chivas will be hosting the Colorado Rapids.

Other AEG facilities throughout the state will also participate, including LA Live, the entertainment hub in downtown Los Angeles.

Earth Hour is organized by World Wide Fund, one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations, and started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for an hour to stand against climate change.

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Watts Up With That reprinted for the occasion Ross McKitrick‘s dissenting 2009 essay.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. …

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

[T]hrough the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.


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