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March 29, 2008 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Earth Hour For one hour tonight, turn off the lights and help conserve energy. Supporters of the plan say it is the equivalent of taking nearly 50,000 cars off the road for an hour. Critics say it's equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for a year, and claim that media coverage of the effects is greatly exaggerated.
posted by BuddhaInABucket (74 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think I'm just gonna keep not owning a car...and just leave my two or three lightbulbs on as usual
posted by dydecker at 2:34 PM on March 29, 2008


If you drive, stay within the speed limit. That's an easy way to consume a lot less gas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:34 PM on March 29, 2008


"Lights-out" Google has been driving me crazy all day.
posted by resurrexit at 2:44 PM on March 29, 2008


Lights out Google has been a helluva lot easier on my eyes.
Anyway my room is usually lit only by a single string of Christmas tree lights.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2008


Looking at this in terms of how much energy we save for an hour grossly misses a key point...making a conscious effort to motivate yourself to take some action, however small and seemingly meaningless. To raise awareness, possibly in others, but most definitely in yourself. To be consistent and follow through with action to show that I actually care about the things I say that I care about. To incorporate that environmental action into your lifestyle, in a coordinated effort along with others, for ONE HOUR.

You can choose to continue on beyond the hour, in whatever ways you see fit. Or not. In fact, you also have the option to do nothing. Or you can do worse than nothing...you can dismiss the efforts of others by putting negativity out in the world. You can say, "Hey everybody, this is totally meaningless, and won't change a thing!" It's your choice.

But know that I'll be sitting here, in the dark, listening to the ambient hum of the sky, and little else. I may even do it for longer than an hour. And get this, I'm not doing it because I think I'm taking an extra car off the road. I'm doing it because once you shut off the computer, the refrigerator, the email, the lights, the distractions, it's actually quite nice and peaceful. I'm that selfish.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:50 PM on March 29, 2008 [13 favorites]


Peter Watts thinks it's a really great idea.
posted by Freaky at 2:51 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure, it won't result in any profound images of blacked out skylines, but maybe next year they can do at 10.00 AM on a Thursday.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:59 PM on March 29, 2008


There's also a backlash movement against it called "Hour of Power", adherents of which promise to turn on every electrical appliance and every light they own during that hour.
posted by Class Goat at 3:00 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


It would have been a stroke of genius if Gray Davis would have used this as a justification back when California had those rolling blackouts. "We're just trying to extend Earth hour. It's for the planet, people!"
posted by Someone has just shot your horse! at 3:02 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey all you critics. We take this stuff seriously here in Maine. I'm all for being in the dark (spooky, ooooooo). Whatthefuckover is the problem with turning your lights off for an hour, anyway? My iPod's charged, I'll be listening to Sheryl Crow and Hey Mambo (Italiano), so let's all dance in the dark!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:05 PM on March 29, 2008


But know that I'll be sitting here, in the dark, listening to the ambient hum of the sky, and little else.

You certainly have the better of the argument, iamkimiam.

But electricity is required to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, the NCAA Tournament.

Maybe I'll observe this myself on Monday night.
posted by ibmcginty at 3:07 PM on March 29, 2008


I prefer Tower of Power, even though I'm not still a young man, baby!
posted by lukemeister at 3:11 PM on March 29, 2008


adherents of which promise to turn on every electrical appliance and every light they own during that hour

Hopefully people such as these have old fuse boxes and are miles away from a closed hardware store.
posted by brownpau at 3:13 PM on March 29, 2008 [6 favorites]


Or have taken steps to prevent blown fuses.
posted by anthill at 3:24 PM on March 29, 2008


I don't know... I guess if you have kids, its a good thing to do, because it teaches them about saving energy and all that, but it doesn't really address the bigger picture, does it?

And people who are already concerned about the environment are probably doing their part already - composting, recycling of materials that are not your standard blue-box items (i.e. paper, plastic), taking the bus.

I personally would love to see a no-car-starter day. My wife stopped using hers and her driving range increased by about 50 km per tank (granted this was a non-scientific study on my part).

But I guess overall, I think it is a good thing. A lot of people will only do something if everyone else is doing it, you know, because it's cool to do. And I guess if everybody is talking about Earth Hour, then Mr and Mrs Highly Suggestible will participate in it too, because everyone who is everyone is doing it!
posted by bitteroldman at 3:25 PM on March 29, 2008


How about "Take-a-day-off-work-and-stay-at-home-for-the-environment day"?

An ABC survey suggests the average commute is 16 miles each way, for a total of 32 miles. At 25 mpg this will consume 1.28 gallons of gasoline, which contains about 1.67 * 10^8 J of energy. Assuming a gasoline to electricity conversion efficiency of 22% (25% gas to electricity, 10% transmission losses to the home), this could be turned directly into 37 MJ of electricity, or about enough to keep your house lit continuously for 24 hours at 430W.

If you're using compact fluorescents then it's difficult to rack up 430W with lighting unless you happen to own a mansion. Don't drive for a day and you can get 24+ earth hours without having to sit in the dark.
posted by Pyry at 3:28 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Earth Hour is stupid. Not only because it doesn't really save that much energy, but because it's a useless awareness campaign for something people are already aware of. The website provides no real information about how you actually *can* do something significant ("ask your employer..."), it only contains short one-liners like "Turn appliances off while not in use." No shit!

The problem isn't in educating people that there IS a climate crisis, it's in figuring out how to tackle the bigger picture. Doing things like pushing public policy to promote bike culture over car culture, eating much less meat, and finding long term renewable energy resources. Earth hour does none of these. Yes, the little things like turning off lights when you're not in the room help, but those actions won't solve our problems in the long run, and THAT is what people need to be educated about.

Earth Hour seems like just a convenient way for activist types to allow themselves to continue to feel more superior than everyone else and for companies to claim they are "green" and helping fix the earth.
posted by patr1ck at 3:30 PM on March 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


There's also a backlash movement against it called "Hour of Power", adherents of which promise to turn on every electrical appliance and every light they own during that hour.

Yeah that'll show us. Something. (What the fuck is wrong with people.)
posted by nax at 3:30 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's going to be some busy hospital delivery rooms nine months from now.
posted by mctsonic at 3:35 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Google black made me think the trojan I spent a whole day getting rid of had come back to haunt me... gits.

Oh and blackout hour for me coincided with the perfect hour to wash up because for once there was stuff on tv I actually wanted to watch on either side. And I wasn't gonna do that in the dark.

I wonder if the burglary stats will show a spike...?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:39 PM on March 29, 2008


patr1ck basically posted my comment for me, so I won't bother.
posted by Jimbob at 3:42 PM on March 29, 2008


Blackle is a permanently white-on-black version of Google.
posted by randomination at 3:45 PM on March 29, 2008


It would have been a stroke of genius if Gray Davis would have used this as a justification back when California had those rolling blackouts.

I wonder if Grandma Millie supports Earth Hour.
posted by homunculus at 3:48 PM on March 29, 2008


because it's a useless awareness campaign for something people are already aware of.

it only contains short one-liners like "Turn appliances off while not in use." No shit!

The problem isn't in educating people that there IS a climate crisis, it's in figuring out how to tackle the bigger picture. Doing things like pushing public policy to promote bike culture over car culture, eating much less meat, and finding long term renewable energy resources. Earth hour does none of these. Yes, the little things like turning off lights when you're not in the room help, but those actions won't solve our problems in the long run, and THAT is what people need to be educated about.
posted by patr1ck at 3:30 PM on March 29 [+] [!] No other comments.


While I agree with you in that people need to be educated in the bigger picture, but you are wrong about Earth Hour being a useless awareness campaign for something people are already aware of.

I think about my parents, who *think* that they are much more aware than they actually are. They *say* they care about the environment, and they actually *believe* they are doing things about it. The reality is, they aren't any of these things. They are actually very, very wasteful, in small unthinking ways. It drives me nuts. They wrap everything in plastic baggies (including cans of food) and go through cases of water bottles per week. They drive their Lincoln Navigator all over the country, the state, the town, the neighborhood, and the block. They think they are too old to use their bodies, and that is their excuse for anything exercise or efficiency related. Suggesting them to ride bicycles would be like inviting them to the moon.

I have hope that one day I can show them the big picture. That we can talk about composting and CSAs and climate change solutions. But for now, I have to pull teeth to explain that their being a member of Sierra Club 25 years ago does not make them culturally aware today. I need to give them kitchy little solutions and show them youtube videos about Earth Hour (what's youtube?) to get them to realize that leaving your appliances plugged in actually uses energy.

And it's not about them using energy. It's about them become aware of things...like noticing how the plug in the wall has an effect on their environment. That they have a choice to consider...to leave it plugged in or unplug it, to buy more plastic baggies at the store or not, to take a walk to the neighbors house or to drive, to dismiss their daughter's hairbrained ideas about sitting in the dark on a Saturday night or to ask her what the hell that's all about.

Some people need this and just because YOU'RE beyond it doesn't mean that those steps aren't necessary for those out there that haven't climbed as high. So yes, kudos to you for having the wealth of knowledge to see how banal and stupid Earth Hour is...I'm sure it's like basic math to you, but to my parents who think they're doing their part but really aren't, these actions and my participation is symbolic and awareness-raising. And I'm trying not to piss on it for them. Because with all the dissenting opinion out there, they may never take that first step.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:57 PM on March 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


I personally would love to see a no-car-starter day. My wife stopped using hers and her driving range increased by about 50 km per tank (granted this was a non-scientific study on my part).

Huh? I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. Is this some joke about how your wife stopped driving her car, thus got much better gas mileage? Please explain.
posted by papakwanz at 4:01 PM on March 29, 2008


Critics say it's equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for a year...

...and that's bad?
posted by DU at 4:05 PM on March 29, 2008


papaakwanz - he means a remote car starter. People use them to start their cars while they are still inside their house/work so their car is warmed up in winter/cooled down in summer.
posted by saucysault at 4:22 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why did they do it in the middle of the day? My lights are all off already.
posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on March 29, 2008


to get them to realize that leaving your appliances plugged in actually uses energy.

Huh? How does leaving appliances plugged in use energy? I mean, other then devices which have standby modes with a little power draw for like a clock or something, how does it use energy to leave something plugged in?
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on March 29, 2008


Hey, one snark-free hour is good enough reason for me after reading all the comments here.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:29 PM on March 29, 2008


I think about my parents, who *think* that they are much more aware than they actually are. They *say* they care about the environment, and they actually *believe* they are doing things about it. The reality is, they aren't any of these things. They are actually very, very wasteful, in small unthinking ways. It drives me nuts. They wrap everything in plastic baggies (including cans of food) and go through cases of water bottles per week. They drive their Lincoln Navigator all over the country, the state, the town, the neighborhood, and the block.

Um, sorry, but if your parents drive a Lincoln Navigator all over the place while thinking they are genuinely helping the environment, they need a lot more help than Earth Day would ever be able to provide.

And it's not about them using energy. It's about them become aware of things...like noticing how the plug in the wall has an effect on their environment. That they have a choice to consider...to leave it plugged in or unplug it, to buy more plastic baggies at the store or not, to take a walk to the neighbors house or to drive, to dismiss their daughter's hairbrained ideas about sitting in the dark on a Saturday night or to ask her what the hell that's all about.

So why don't you actually educate them on these things instead of doing passive actions like turning out your lights and waiting for them to ask why? Do you really need a worldwide program to influence you to do that?

Some people need this and just because YOU'RE beyond it doesn't mean that those steps aren't necessary for those out there that haven't climbed as high. So yes, kudos to you for having the wealth of knowledge to see how banal and stupid Earth Hour is...I'm sure it's like basic math to you, but to my parents who think they're doing their part but really aren't, these actions and my participation is symbolic and awareness-raising. And I'm trying not to piss on it for them. Because with all the dissenting opinion out there, they may never take that first step.

Let's just be clear: The dissenting opinion that might influence them to not care doesn't come from me. I'd love it if people genuinely took climate change more seriously. The problem that I see is the Earth Day really doesn't take it seriously: It convolutes the problem by giving a gold star to people and corporations who take actions that are marginal at best, instead of educating and pushing for real change.

A+ for effort (seriously), but symbolism only goes so far.
posted by patr1ck at 4:30 PM on March 29, 2008


but because it's a useless awareness campaign for something people are already aware of.

This is true, because I get a friggin electric bill every month, but what about our corporate friends? One of the reasons why I now refuse to shop at the Apple store is because they just leave their front doors wide open in the summer and are shooting out their AC essentially saying "fuck the environment, we've got money." So this little game only works for those of us with sane incomes and limited resources. Apple and the rest are laughing at the little people shutting down the CFL bulbs at night.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2008


Also, double post.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:35 PM on March 29, 2008


I love things that motivate people to act in mass for something that isn't likely to hurt a soul, yet makes them feel good for participating while saving some energy. Personally I wish the formal message was a bit less "man made climate change" oriented. Conservation and environmental awareness are both good things all by themselves.
posted by LiveLurker at 4:35 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm gonna drive around town during that hour and see if it looks any different.
posted by sourwookie at 4:43 PM on March 29, 2008


iamkimiam and LiveLurker basically posted my comments for me, so I won't bother.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:50 PM on March 29, 2008


A lot of babies are going to be made...
posted by sixcolors at 5:03 PM on March 29, 2008


Wow, the TV's pretty glaringly bright without the lights on.
posted by octothorpe at 5:06 PM on March 29, 2008


I'm allowed to keep my laptop on, right? It's running on its battery....
posted by Hildegarde at 5:14 PM on March 29, 2008


Fifteen minutes into Earth Hour here and all my neighbors' clocks are slowwwwwww!. Well won't they be surprised when I turn my lights back on before them. Geez, maybe this means I need to keep mine out another fifteen or twenty so they know I am one with them on Earth Hour?
posted by LiveLurker at 5:17 PM on March 29, 2008


Earth Day has done at least one good thing over here - reminded me that I'd planned to replace all the bulbs in the new house with energy efficient ones (other than the light bulb in my girlfriend's bedroom - and I've bought a spare one for there). The reminders are sometimes useful.
posted by Francis at 5:20 PM on March 29, 2008


I'm still undecided about the efficacy of this campaign (I'll check the analysis tomorrow), but I'm genuinely surprised by the wide attention it got. "Education Events" like this one (and like the Live 8 concernts last year, and like all the little media stunts my activist buddy puts on) may be pretty useless if you measure by incremental achievement. However the sum total is pretty impressive.

The fact that
- climate change is one of the biggest election issues in my country and many others,
- residents of my city feel obliged to sort their trash into paper, plastic, organic and landfill
- a small campaign to turn out lights for an hour gets global media attention

shows how much our cultural norms have shifted over the last twenty years. I think we can credit the "futile" efforts of activists for that progress, even if, on an individual level, they're mostly wasting their time.

Having said that, "Blackle is a permanently white-on-black version of Google" is one of the stupidest efforts I've seen in a while. LCDs use the same amount of power whether they show white or black. They're probably just greenwashing to tap into Google's ad revenue.
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:28 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Supporters of the plan say it is the equivalent of taking nearly 50,000 cars off the road for an hour. Critics say it's equivalent to taking 6 cars off the road for a year

At least they can agree on something.
posted by 23skidoo at 5:50 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know... I guess if you have kids, its a good thing to do, because it teaches them about saving energy and all that, but it doesn't really address the bigger picture, does it?

The root problem, of course, is that are already way too many people on this planet; and the only way we're ever going to make any headway on this issue is stop trying to cram any more of them onto it. The irony for anyone who thinks that this is a good "lesson for their children" has missed the point that if they really were committed to environmentalism, they wouldn't have any children.

But almost no-one seems to grasp that this fundamental truth actually applies to them and their own precious personal snowflakes. That people are commenting on the likely spike in births nine months from now is almost funny; but I just don't know whether to laugh or cry.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:56 PM on March 29, 2008


OK. Earth hour is over here in EDT. Is this thing on?
posted by netbros at 6:00 PM on March 29, 2008


I think I even out if I burn a light for a bath and turn my TV off.
posted by wrapper at 6:06 PM on March 29, 2008


It's all a conspiracy to reduce the commodity price of electricity just long enough for the robots to recharge and gain the power they need to once again rule the world!
posted by Matt Oneiros at 6:09 PM on March 29, 2008


So. My light are out in my new apartment, appliances are off, desktop is sleeping. Only things running are the notebook and the router.

Downtown Chicago is dark -- Sears, Hancock, the White Castle Building, all of them have pulled the show lights. They still have the "please don't hit me" lights on, but that's about it.

Except one. It appears to be under construction, and it's lit up from top to as far down as I can see from Avondale.

How much do you want to bet that the one building in all of Downtown Chicago that is lit up like a fucking tree is the under-construction Trump Tower?
posted by eriko at 6:31 PM on March 29, 2008


LCDs use the same amount of power whether they show white or black.

Actually, they use marginally more power when black than when white. The backlight is still on, but power is being expended to randomize the liquid crystals to make the shutter opaque.

When Google turned their page black, it resulted in more power expenditure by visitors.
posted by Class Goat at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2008


The thing I noticed is how many LEDs are on around the house. Which is odd (to have not noticed before), since I'm often up at night and don't bother to turn lights on when walking around, but sitting there paying attention is a little different.

I also learned that it's a lot harder on my eyes to do stuff by candlelight than when I was a kid. I was going to do pysanky but frak that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:39 PM on March 29, 2008


From the official Google blog:
We applaud the spirit of the idea, but our own analysis as well as that of others shows that making the Google homepage black will not reduce energy consumption. To the contrary, on flat-panel monitors (already estimated to be 75% of the market), displaying black may actually increase energy usage. Detailed results from a new study confirm this.
posted by Class Goat at 6:44 PM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


Blah, blah, blah...
posted by fixedgear at 6:44 PM on March 29, 2008


fixedgear, it really isn't blah, blah, blah. It's important to have this back and forth about what saves energy and what doesn't, and if Earth Day mattered or not. While I might personally like "feel good" events like this, someone else thinks it's hokey, and yet another comes in to talk about how not driving one day makes WAY more a difference. The point is that we are talking about it, and learning while we do. I will make you a virtual wager, fixedgear, that if you keep an open mind and if you keep reading, even YOU will find something that is not so blah about this thread or topic even. We just need to find what tickles your fancy; what floats your boat. Just gonna guess it might have something to do with gears though???
posted by LiveLurker at 7:47 PM on March 29, 2008


Ya wanna save the planet? Don't have kids!
posted by mrhappy at 7:54 PM on March 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was going to keep all my lights on for a day while I'm at work, to do my part to compensate for this utter stupidity. If enough people waste energy with me, we can render Earth Hour meaningless.

However, Earth Hour was already so utterly insignificant, I won't even bother.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:46 PM on March 29, 2008


ZachsMind, did you actually consider attempting to counter-act this? What's the rationale?
posted by roombythelake at 9:23 PM on March 29, 2008


Although it's easy to dismiss this as tokenism, maybe this could be a first step towards genuine energy efficiency.

For example, trendy "organic" foods require much more energy than regular crops. Sure, they taste better, but perhaps the planet could come first for once?
posted by Cosmo7 at 9:43 PM on March 29, 2008


I'm skeptical of voluntary efforts like this--according to Mark Jaccard and his colleagues, voluntary measures don't work--but we did it anyway. At the very least, it was good practice for a power failure.

According to CBC Radio, enough people in Ontario participated to reduce the electrical load by 5% (900 MW).
posted by russilwvong at 10:12 PM on March 29, 2008


trendy "organic" foods require much more energy than regular crops

That's a fairly sweeping statement. The phrase "it depends" comes to mind. I think you will need to supplement any elaboration with some linked documentation too. I won't go so far as to say this idea seems ridiculous on the face of it, because I *try* to be open-minded, but bullshit has the same energy value no matter how it's spread.

Otherwise I lean more towards the opinions expressed by patr1ck than iamkimiam, although I accept that both have positive motivations. I fear that people will use this sort of minimal effort/trivial energy reduction moment to rationalise their being more wasteful at other times.
"I did my bit with the lights so I'm driving to the shop!"
posted by peacay at 10:27 PM on March 29, 2008


Well part of the reason something like this can "work" is because it's only for an hour. ie: you're not agreeing to not watch DVD's this week or even tonight so much as waiting until 9 o'clock. So as far as that goes, I think a lot of people (myself included) are wondering whether we can even make a dent, and if so, how much? A curiosity thing. But the altered perception of time and options when the personal electronics aren't available is always interesting.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:29 PM on March 29, 2008


Oh. I'm thinking maybe I misread you Cosmo7. I thought you meant the same crops with different (trendy -vs- regular farm production) regimens for raising them. But I suspect you meant the Bogswamp biovar II of the Andean flute chervil raised in climate controlled conditions versus backyard parsley or the somesuch. My apologies if so.
posted by peacay at 10:47 PM on March 29, 2008


But aren't we all, each in our own special way, 1000's of times a day, saying "fuck the environment, we've got money"?

Symbolism is fine, but reducing the (Western) world's energy consumption starts not with grand, backslapping, self-congratulatory acts like this - but with simple things, like learning not to turn on the hall light on your way to the toilet.

Or understanding that 10 little appliances drawing 50mA standby current all day consume more energy than running a 100W 240V light for the same time.

(I've been particularly impressed over the last couple of weeks by the large billboard advertising Earth Hour. Illuminated with over 500 watts of lighting, at 3 in the morning it stood as a shining beacon to "fuck the environment, we've got money".)
posted by Pinback at 11:03 PM on March 29, 2008


Pinback, another impressive thing has been all the celebrities who have been flying around the world on chartered jets to push ths event.
posted by Class Goat at 11:24 PM on March 29, 2008


Freaky: "Peter Watts thinks it's a really great idea."

Well, duh. He wants all the extra wattage for himself, the eponysterical bastard.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:05 AM on March 30, 2008


I considered flipping the master switch on the fuse box and letting all of my computers keep running from the UPSes for an hour, but apparently that doesn't count.

Picky, picky, picky.
posted by dansdata at 4:31 AM on March 30, 2008


A cafe owner was interviewed on the cbc (radio) about her plans for this. She thought it was going to be so nice - she would light the place with candles. Candles! Unfiltered soot produced from fossil fuels, adding more carbon (though I haven't done the math) than just leaving things as they were. I lost any interest I might have had when I heard this plan.

We used to have one day a week which was a low energy usage, no commercial activity (though lots of driving). It was called Sunday. Orthodox and Conservative Jews still reserve one day week in which no switches of any kind are turned on (or off though). If we were remotely serious about addressing energy use, we could do worse than restoring Sunday shopping laws. I'm not a believer, I just think that the sabbath is a darned sensible idea. Gotta go - time to go out and buy that new router!
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:46 AM on March 30, 2008


Hi Peacay,

Although I might have sounded trollish, I've found that almost anything marketed as 'environmentally sound' is usually anything but.

Organic food is a luxury. The reason it costs more is that it uses more resources. Organic tomatoes are delicious, but they are part of the problem, not the solution.
posted by Cosmo7 at 7:58 AM on March 30, 2008


The conceit that small-scale individual actions wil somehow add up to "saving the planet" is in itself dangerous.
The environmental crisis is a large-scale, global problem. It needs large-scale, transnational solutions (like signing and enforcing emissions treaties, developing alternate energy sources, building energy efficient public transportation, changing the way the global economy works, etc.)
These little feel-good measures are just placebos, and they keep people from taking the kind of political action that could actually bring about change*. Joe Schmoe turning off his lights for an hour won't have any effect rather than making him feel OK about living in a country that consumes 10 times the energy per capita that poorer nations do, and entitled to talk to other people about how they should be doing something for "the planet".

* I'm not saying that this change will happen. I think we're fucked.
posted by signal at 8:49 AM on March 30, 2008


Idiots. I had no choice but to leave more lights and other energy-sucking things turned ON than I normally do in an effort to maintain balance.
posted by davidmsc at 8:57 AM on March 30, 2008


So, how'd it go? Did someone, maybe, blog it somewhere?
posted by Dave Faris at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2008


My wife and I took part this year. We found it interesting to go around the house and unplug everything - for a couple that considers themselves fairly environmentally aware, it was a good reminder. The point of it, from my perspective, wasn't just shutting everything off - it was reminding myself of just how much shit is plugged in, even while sitting idle. So now I'm looking at my electronics a little differently, and unplugging things when not in use (like the TV).

You know what? It was fun. We had an hour where we couldn't watch TV, surf the Web, or anything. We sat. And talked. And thought about things. Maybe that should be a piece of the marketing going forward - a chance to actually slow everything down for an hour and get together with the people in your life, rather than living in the middle of all this electronic noise.

The media attention here has largely focused on the fact that this is a gimmick, and not a lasting solution. Yes, it was a gimmick. I'm a little disappointed that so many people seem to think that using a gimmick to raise attention about this issue is wrong, but we don't seem to care about every gimmick used to encourage our consumerism. I mean, McDonald's is busy running ads to encourage kids to be active in an effort to show their "concern" about childhood obesity. That's a crock full of shit - it's a marketing gimmick to make us think they care, so we'll keep eating their processed crap. I have yet to see them raked over the coals by the media for it, the way the WWF spokesperson was this morning on the CBC.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:46 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I actually learned a lot in an hour...
  • How hard it is to break the instinctive habit to flip on the lights when entering a room, even though I walk into the room with the conscious effort to leave the lights off.
  • Like disassembling something and putting it back together more efficiently (and usually with parts to spare), I found that I didn't need to plug back in nearly as many items as I had unplugged (and I considered myself to be pretty efficient already on that front)
  • I'm addicted to checking my email, Metafilter, and various other fun sites. It was sad how many times it crossed my mind in only an hour of absence.
  • Seeing and hearing about others participating in Earth Hour gave me a sense of solidarity and boosted my confidence about being an Earth advocate (sometimes it feels like I'm part of a dwindling minority...especially when it seems like there's more negativity and dissension than positivity and support).
  • My parents will continue to disappoint me, and I will continue to find ways to accept and love them, even when sometimes it feels like I'm navigating in the dark for a hopeless cause. I will use this and other events and bits of knowledge as opportunities to learn, teach, and inform.
  • Engaging in thoughtful discussion on Metafilter has broadened my perspective—not only about what others think about Earth Hour, but how others approach the problems of global climate change, and environmentalism in general. The frustration I felt by the dismissive and negative comments of others made me aware of how passionate I am about this cause. My resolve has been strengthened and renewed.

    Like I said, I learned a lot. I'm pretty inspired. Thanks everybody!

  • posted by iamkimiam at 9:41 PM on March 30, 2008


    “The root problem, of course, is that are already way too many people on this planet; and the only way we're ever going to make any headway on this issue is stop trying to cram any more of them onto it.”

    Yeah, but people keep complaining when you start killing them in big batches.

    “It convolutes the problem by giving a gold star to people and corporations who take actions that are marginal at best, instead of educating and pushing for real change.”

    Why’s it got to be “instead of”? Whynot in addition to? Hell, if I need to stand in a sea chest and sing “I’m a little teapot” in order to wake people up to the artifice of their environment I’d be happy to.

    I get a lot of time outside. I have to sleep with a dark towel over my head and earplugs until I get reacclimated to the indoors. Little lights blinking. Machines going on and off. It was nice to throw the mains and sit in the dark and quiet for a bit.

    Agreed symbolism only goes so far. But I think people are so disconnected from reality - and I mean actual physical reality - in their instincts and habits so hopelessly dependant on the system and so self-assured that they know the truth of things that they will fight tooth and nail to protect not only their own intellectual sensibilities (such as they are) but advocate against anything that remotely discomforts them. Even for just an hour.

    This is at least was something of a wake up.
    posted by Smedleyman at 12:54 PM on March 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


    Yipes. Smedley? You went an' thew the mains?
    posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:05 PM on April 7, 2008


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