28 March 2010

Earth Hour: Why My Lights Were On

The logo for Earth HourImage via Wikipedia
If you drove by my house last night at 8:30 PM EDT you would have noticed my lights were on, music was playing, and a small group of friends were gathered to enjoy each others' company and conversation.

Whither Earth Hour? The now annual global "action" that tries to get people to turn off their lights for 60 minutes as a stand against climate change. Not in my home.

What I don't like about Earth Hour is it sends the wrong message. It sends a message of deprivation and loss rather than prosperity through innovation.

Two billion people in the world currently live without access to electricity. They rely on kerosene and candles for their lighting needs, sources that are dangerous, expensive, and polluting.

The societal benefits brought to the world by electricity and access to light have been well-documented. Indeed, the relationship between total energy consumption and productivity and wealth creation suggests that the benefits of electricity generation are at least of the same order of magnitude as economic development itself, according to several articles in the journal Energy Economics.

Why would anyone want to go back to the Dark Ages, even for an hour?

How much better would it be if we promoted prosperity through innovation and made the most efficient electricity and lighting available to the most people. Turning out the lights is just empty symbolism.

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