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

(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.

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)
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