Why Tonight's Earth Hour Is Misguided
Bjorn Lomborg: It's just 'vain symbolism' that sends the wrong message
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2013 11:01 AM CDT
These combo photos show the Taipei 101 Building before and after turning off its lights to mark Earth Hour in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

(Newser) – The annual Earth Hour celebration in which locales and individuals across the world turn off lights at 8:30pm local time is under way once again today. You will not catch Bjorn Lomborg in the dark, however. This gimmicky stunt sends the message that beating global warming is easy and "reveals exactly what is wrong with today's feel-good environmentalism," he writes at Slate. For starters, it won't reduce carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, the surge at power plants when the hour ends will wipe out any gains, he writes, as will all those cozy candles.

But if Earth Hour is more about symbolism, it's wrong on that count, too. Electricity isn't evil—we need more of it in third-world nations. "Tackling climate change by turning off the lights and eating dinner by candlelight smacks of the 'let them eat cake' approach to the world’s problems that appeals only to well-electrified, comfortable elites," writes Lomborg. What we truly need is investment in new green technologies—and no more subsidies for failures like solar and wind—that can compete with fossil fuels. In other words, "green R&D," not "vain symbolism." Click for the full column.

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Mar 23, 2013 2:07 PM CDT
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Mar 23, 2013 1:20 PM CDT
. . . But being able to see the stars for an hour would be really, really nice!
Mar 23, 2013 11:39 AM CDT
I agree, in order to make a real impact on power plant emissions, they need to have "keep your a/c off for a full day" day. You need to sign a binding contract with your provider so they can adequately plan to dial down generating capacity on a day like August 15th. August 15th, all over the northern Hemisphere we will not use a/c in retail, business, home, or restaurants. Something like that does work because we had problems with power hits in my city and the power company told us to get bent. But we were the broadcast group representing all the engineers in the city. We got together and decided to shed load on more than a megawatt of power for 24 hours as we all switched on our generators at the stations and sticks. We didn't let the power company know what day it would be, but we agreed on a Monday as that was the best cycle for our schedules. We could fix anything that went bad. So it went to plan. Generators kicked on at 10 full power stations and the entire broadcast community was on self supply. It worked, better than we could ever imagine. At our next broadcaster's meeting, the power company had an engineer, the head of maintenance, and the head of design. The result of that meeting was we got new lines ran to our main community tower (a candelabra tower with 6 stations), and new insulators and lines ran to other stations. It has never been the same, and that's good.