Tomorrow from 8.00 pm local time is Earth Hour, where we’re all being encouraged to turn off electrical gubbins to save the planet. I was hoping to get some kind of statement about the movement off the official website but it’s running so painfully slowly that I’d still be waiting for it to load now.
The event started in Sydney, where last year 2.2 million people “reduced the city’s energy consumption by a whopping 10.2% during that hour – equivalent to taking 48,000 cars off the road”, says the WWF.
The general reception from the world’s media has been positive, but in Australia there’s a right blue going on.
“Earth Hour may see people switch off their lights for just one hour on Saturday night, but organisers believe the environmental message will be everlasting,” says the Sydney Morning Herald.
In a good old-fashioned newspaper war Australia’s Herald Sun (prop: R. Murdoch) has launched a full on attack on the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s, The Age. “Earth Hour proves that what threatens us is not so much global warming, but lousy journalism”, it says, before going on to claim that global temperatures have fallen since 1998, a claim that Aussie blogger Tim Lambert deals with here.
Let’s dispel some misconceptions. Turning off lights and appliances tonight will not in itself do anything much to stem the rise of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Earth Hour organisers acknowledge this. Cutting energy consumption for an hour is a symbolic step. Like all symbolism, it is easy to mock.
It’s not just down under where it’s all kicking off…
“What began as a simple attempt at bringing climate change down to the living-room level has snowballed, burying those who argue Earth Hour is mere tokenism that will do little to cut greenhouse gas emissions or that participating businesses are only interested in their cash registers,” says The Canadian Press.
Well, they’re not totally buried. There is a question about how much Earth Hour will reduce emissions. Many activities (making a cup of tea for example) may simply be put off for an hour. And when the UK had a similar experiment for a whole day earlier this year power consumption didn’t go down at all.
Earth Hour is getting support from Arizona to Tel Aviv and even from God. However some are discerning a more sinister agenda, plumbing some seriously paranoid depths: “The World Wide Fund for Nature’s Earth Hour stunt this weekend, encouraging people to voluntarily turn off their lights for an hour, is a dry run for a program to force cuts in energy consumption, to kill millions of people worldwide.”