So, once again an annual tradition among environmental nuts takes off. Earth Hour, for those who don’t know, takes place every year, last Saturday of March, at 8:30 for one hour, when people turn off their lights. Not everyone participates, street lights stay on, businesses keep their lights on unless they like being robbed, but the general idea is: turn off your lights to save on greenhouse gas emmissions.
So, you may ask, why would anyone have a problem with this, and to be honest I myself don’t have much of one. I remember the 2003 blackout when we lost our power for over twelve hours, I can’t remember exactly how long, all I remember is we lost power in the afternoon, when I was doing work in an office, saw the lights flicker out, but I didn’t care because I was playing Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri on a laptop with battery power, and didn’t get it back until the following morning. I loved it, for once I could look up at the night sky and actually see shit. I heard stories how people would listen to the radio all night, specifically CBC, relaxing under the stars. Yay emergency radios…I have one, never use it. Of course my uncle had the bright idea to hook up a generator to the house power supply so we could watch his satellite TV. He’s a real 21st century prick. Good idea, but unnecessary, though we did get to see CNN’s coverage of the event which was cool.
Anyway, I remember thinking at the time, I would love it if this happened at least once a year, shut down the power grid for twelve hours, we’d get a chance to walk away from our technology, just for a while. Then again I was much younger, and much stupider. But this is a good compromise, a controlled blackout, I get away from my technology, but having the street lights outside my window still on makes it seem kind of ridiculous.
The truth is I’m not one of those pricks who think technology is evil, I think it’s a good thing. Today, we as individuals have access to more information then we have ever had before, coupled with technology that can feed the hungry, clean the air, freshen the water, and literally save the world…or at least the people on it. So it does piss me off whenever I hear people bitch about modern technology, like genetically modified food, or modern pharmaceuticals, saying it’s inherently evil or something, saying we should go back to a simpler, more primitive time, you know, when women couldn’t vote, when people were kept as slaves, and we were lucky to live to the age of 30. It’s not technology that’s evil, it’s the people who use it. Big marketing executives who want us to burn more oil, and say there is no such thing as global warming. Walk outside asshole, and tell me global warming isn’t real. Oh, you say it’s extremely cold outside and that proves there is no global warming? Well maybe you need to recheck your meteorology textbook because that’s exactly what the models predict…asshole. …where am I? Oh! Right!
So, Earth Hour, let’s take an hour to save the earth by turning off the lights. It’s so simple I do it every day for several hours, it’s called sleeping. I kid of course, but the thing is, I am not even sure this is the best way to save earth. I think the secret lies in advanced technology. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the less energy we use the better, but we live in an advanced society…well…relatively advanced. There are aliens looking at us now laughing at how primitive we are, but compared to our own history, we are pretty advanced, and that means we use more energy than we ever did before. This is inescapable, especially if we want to keep our refrigerators, microwave ovens, and computers, and I will not give up my computer, though it has been pissing me off as of late. Now we can use more efficient devices, which I am all for. Efficiency in all walks of life is a good thing, both economically and…energically? It’s the Borg way! But even if we have devices that are perfectly efficient we will still be using a great deal of energy by virtue of the technology we have. The only way we can escape this is by producing more clean energy, and I’m sorry environmental nuts, wind and waves and solar just aren’t enough, though they are a start. But what I want to see more of is something environmental nuts consider blasphemy: Nuclear power. Yes the waste is a problem, but in reality it’s not waste, it’s just used fuel, and scientists are working to find a way to extract more energy out of it, in the interim we are storing them in well secured facilities, not the local playground. So get off it. If we want to keep our current level of technology, we need power, and nuclear produces a lot of it with no greenhouse gasses, which is the current big environmental concern right? I see no problem with nuclear power and if someone tells me why I’m wrong I welcome it.
But my next concern about Earth Hour is that it may be doing more harm than good. I know one guy who is going to use candles during Earth Hour. Candles which are probably made out of a wax, composed of hydrocarbons, which he is burning, creating greenhouse gasses. There’s a good idea. It’s a small complaint but if we are trying to reduce greenhouse gasses, maybe it would be better to switch to a CFC light bulb instead of lighting candles. Though they are good for ambiance.
Finally, my last complaint. This does no good. All we are doing is saying we care about our environment, and turning off the lights for one hour, then turning them back on so we can get back to our fucking lives until next year when we can do it all over again. It’s purely symbolic, and I have never been a fan of symbols. Talk is cheap but this isn’t much of an improvement. You want to make a difference. Turn off your lights and pull out some energy efficient battery powered lights, and do this for an hour once a week instead of once a year, or better yet. Do it every day. It’s like Valentine’s day. We shouldn’t need an arbitrary day to show affection to the people we love, we should do it every day. But don’t get arrogant. You are not saving the earth, you are simply allowing us to have a nice place to live.
Now I’m going to turn off my lights and start reading a book under a book light. For one hour. Hey, why not?