I won’t be observing it. I don’t think I ever have. To those who do, give yourselves a big golf clap. Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007. It was a way of bringing attention to the issue of Climate Change. It may have been effective, it may have helped bring down a climate change denying Howard Government. Though I doubt it.
According to Wikipedia, apparently 121 countries have signed up to observe Earth Hour. Goody. How many of them signed up to carbon reduction targets at Copenhagen?
This is my point. I know Earth Hour organisers don’t try and claim it is saving the world – they know it won’t even make much more than a very small dip in the world energy consumption – but the Climate Change policy war has drastically changed in the last 12-18 months. It has gotten ugly, and the deniers are playing for keeps. Here’s the big point - Earth Hour has grown in size over the last 4 years; but the number of people skeptical of humans’ role in climate change has increased. Last November, Tony Abbott was able to get the Liberal Party to vote against the ETS, and the Liberal Party poll numbers have gone up.
That is not the sign of a successful marketing campaign.
Earth Hour is about raising awareness and getting people thinking about climate change, getting pictures in the media. Well I have to say, it does get the attention of the media, it may even get people thinking about climate change, but in terms of changing public opinion – and more importantly changing politicians’ votes – it ain’t working. Instead it is quickly becoming a tool used by the deniers to attack those who agree that the science of climate change is overwhelmingly compelling (as I most fervently do).
Today Liberal Environment spokesperson Greg Hunt tweeted to Penny Wong, saying “Don't forget to turn off your lights this year for Earth Hour!”.
So we have a Shadow Environment Spokesperson who supports Earth Hour, but who currently does not support a policy that will put a price on carbon – he support a “direct action” policy which by all reports will do NOTHING, and if by accident it does achieve a small something, it will achieve that in a massively less efficient manner than would either an Emissions Trading Scheme or a Carbon Tax.
That is not the sign of a successful result by the Earth Hour organisers – unless their aim was for Earth Hour to be supported but to achieve a NIL policy outcome.
Look, I understand you need to do stunts to awake the consciousness of people, but Earth Hour is no longer about “Climate Change”, it’s about “Earth Hour”. Do you seriously think there is anyone out there who doesn’t know about climate change? Do you really think there is someone saying tonight, so Earth Hour, what’s all this about.. Huh Climate Change??!! Hell why didn’t someone tell me about this!!!
I’m going to say the number in that category is next to bugger all, and even less are those who are thinking yeah Earth Hour – this will change my vote. Instead what we have is people who either passionately agree with the science or who want to be seen by others to be doing the right thing switching off their lights for an hour (but keeping the plasma TV on). And in the other corner we have Andrew Bolt and Senator Corey Bernardi going on about “Human Achievement Hour” and putting on all their lights. Bolt will then follow this up by showing how little energy consumption went down during the hour (he always does), and mocking those who say turn off your 60 Watt light globe but keep your plasma going.
Now I think Bernardi and Bolt are complete tools, but they’re just an example of how futile is Earth Day in achieving the aim of a policy which will reduce carbon emissions. It preaches only to the converted, and actually hinders the cause.
I guess some would say Earth Hour helps make people think about their energy consumption. In my opinion I seriously doubt it. What influences people’s energy consumption is the same thing that caused my parents to tell me to switch off my bedroom light 30 years ago when no one was caring about climate change – the cost.
You want to make a difference? Spend the energy used to organise Earth Day on lobbying MPs and Senators to come up with a Climate Change policy that will make a difference. Spend that time and money on marketing campaigns targeted at getting to the point where politicians vote for a decent Climate Change policy because if they don’t they’ll lose votes.
I’m all for symbolism – the Sorry Day was an amazing point in Australian history – but symbolism isn’t working if people can support the symbol, but be against policy that will actually make a difference. Politicians and people can use Earth Hour to make themselves feel good, when what we (and companies) really need to do is feel pain when we (and companies) use energy inefficiently – feel that pain in our wallets.
And if Earth Hour isn’t helping bring that about, then sad to say, in my opinion it’s just tokenism.