Monday, March 23, 2009

Earth Hour 2: This Time It's Electoral

Earth Hour is back. This time they've eliminated most of the pretext of this actually being good for the planet (and thank God for that). This time it's just a massive demonstration ahead of the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later in the year. The organizers are calling it a global election between the earth and climate change. Turn off your lights or the polar bear gets it! Yay for ridiculously false dichotomies! In all seriousness, the time to lobby governments about this is long past. No amount of darkness is going to make governments more willing to put domestic industry at risk in Copenhagen. People might care about climate change but they care about their job more. As long as there is a connection between going green and decreased industrial output in the minds of governments from Washington to Moscow to Beijing, we will not see real progress on climate change. The challenge in Copenhagen as it was in Kyoto and Bali before, will be reconciling the need for cheap electricity to fuel economic growth in places like China and India. This and the linked chicken-egg problem of the US only willing to reduce its emissions if the manufacturers of Asia are similarly bound and the Asian manufacturers unwilling to bind themselves to any agreement to reduce emissions until their CO2 per capita is equal to the West is what will challenge negotiators at Copenhagen. No amount of sitting in the dark will make these challenges any easier. Like so many other causes célèbres, it is easy for people to shout "Do Something About Climate Change!" Sorting out geopolitical intricacies, scientific challenges and economic dilemmas is a little more difficult. Earth Hour will yield nothing but anger, disappointment, and, inexorably, another Earth Hour twelve months hence.

1 comment:

Nature Concern said...

Thanks for promoting Earth Hour! Another way you can recruit people to the cause is by creating a Earth Hour group on Simply create a group about one action that you will commit to do for Earth Hour and recruit your friends, family, and co-workers to get involved in that action as well. When it comes to climate change, simple actions can make huge differences and Commit21 leverages social media to influence networks of friends, family, and co-workers. Check it out at

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