Earth Hour 2012

Yes, it’s that time again. The WWF hope you can switch off your lights for the sixth annual Earth Hour tonight. Last year 5,251 cities across 135 countries took part, reaching 1.8 billion people.

I must confess that I am more cynical about Earth Hour than I was at this time last year (it’s the “green tokenism,” as Boyd Cohen, co-author of Climate Capitalism and teacher of sustainable entrepreneurship at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, calls it), so heaven help me this time next year. Of course it’s very easy to feel good about something that requires little effort and no ongoing commitment. You’ve already ditched plastic shopping bags and all your light bulbs are energy-saving ones, even though they take ages to brighten up and are ruining your eyesight. You never leave your mobile phone charger plugged in and compost even your toenails. Some of you, I know, even have bicycles and I’m proud of you for using them, not just having them. Tell me, is it really worth plunging your home into darkness for one hour in an attempt to further prove that you care about the environment? And to whom?

Indeed, an hour helping to clean the coastline would be better spent. As would five minutes at the supermarket spent looking at food labels, or walking the kids to school occasionally instead of taking them in the car all the time. I’m loath to join the thronging, sneering mass of people that think this exercise is a futile, feel-good display in self-indulgence, and not because I’m too idle to spend an hour in relative discomfort or in morbid contemplation. I’m not insulted by the suggestion that I ought to participate in yet another gesture of symbolic solidarity (which I’m not doing this year, as you can see, because I’m writing this, which I should hope counts for more anyway). I’m just a bit disheartened because, for all the well-meaning rhetoric and populist vows to change habits, and for all my humble efforts to make a tiny difference, too many people will still insist on heating their gardens on cold summer nights and will fly around the world on any given day for no good reason other than they want to and are able to.

It’s why I’m pleased to see that the nice WWF people are making more of their Go Beyond the Hour message this year, realising, thankfully, that one measly hour of modest sacrifice is not asking much at all.

So, what will you do to go beyond the hour? Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth and encourage everybody in your household to do the same? Stop buying drinks in single-use plastic bottles? Arrange a car share scheme at work? Compost your garden and kitchen waste?

There’s also the rather amusing I Will If You Will (IWIYW) campaign this year. Pardon the jokers vowing to commit mass murder or commit suicide if only you’ll start using reusable coffee cups or shunning bottled water; there are some serious ones there. Do let me know your favourites.

Last year, for the duration of Earth Hour, my thoughts were with those poor souls in Fukushima, Japan, facing with such tremendous courage the most terrifying Level Seven nuclear catastrophe. I thought, too, about the huge cost many countries are still willing to pay for cheap electricity which its citizens will ultimately waste without shame or thought for the dangers connected with its provision. This year, I’ve thought of those who are not able to command artificial light or heat with the casual flick of a switch, but also of those who have the switch but dare not touch it quite as often as they’d like or perhaps once did for fear of rising energy bills causing further descent into fuel poverty, while the profits of energy companies continue to soar.

Earth Hour, essentially, is designed to highlight the wastefulness of non-essential lighting; it’s not about saving energy for one hour but about raising awareness and creating an opportunity for people to show others that they care deeply about climate change and to inspire others still to alter their habits for the wider good. As irritated as I may be by the loud, joyful hypocrisy of it all, I can’t fault the thought behind it.

Please try to reduce your energy consumption, and not just for an hour and not just tonight – although Earth Hour is between 8.30pm and 9.30pm tonight, if I’ve caught you in time. It’s a bit inconvenient, that’s all. I happen to quite like the occasional hour of quiet contemplation and welcome a chance to sit and ponder. It’s why I’m usually so miserable. But remember: don’t go lighting candles unless they’re made of one hundred per cent beeswax and thus natural and non-toxic, unlike the nasty petroleum-based ones. And don’t send those dreadful Chinese lanterns into the night sky. Sure, they look pretty, but paper plus fire and absolutely no control over where they land seems incredibly careless to me, and haven’t you read about cows ingesting the charred wire remains? These are banned in many countries for good reason, so I wish the WWF wouldn’t indirectly encourage their use through the many impressive photographs on its website (much in the same way that I wish people weren’t encouraged to hang up suet balls in their horrible plastic netting for garden birds to feed and possibly maim themselves on. Think, people.)

Last of all, for those of you in the UK, please be advised to move your canisters of emergency petrol to a safe place before lighting your beeswax candles. If stockpiling pasties or postage stamps, you might also wish to move those, just to be on the safe side.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour's official blog, The Blog ('Features' previously being its rather naff title), affectionately - or lazily - shortened to 'FEd'.

29 thoughts on “Earth Hour 2012”

  1. I agree Fed. What is one hour? A start. What can you we do to help? Anything! We all have specific conscious duties everyday and not merely the same. The thought and efforts by all help in the long run. So I’ll get my Blog in before sundown. LOL.

  2. Hi Ho Folks,

    One person, one light, every night.

    Better still go to bed when the Sun goes down and get up when it comes up … live with the birds.

    Cheers and Blessed Be.

  3. This Earth hour comes at a really raw and bitter time for me.

    My concerns over nuclear power as well as concern for total lack of earthquake awareness come to focus when faced with the deceptions of the nuclear power industry!

    These lies were made terribly evident by TEPCO at Fukushima.

    I didn’t know anyone there, but I was online last year when frantic Twitter feeds from Japan’s northern prefectures began. That was one tortuous night that I’ll never forget. I hope some lives were saved by the advice I provided, but I’ll never know.

    My husbands’ families live ironically in the New Madrid, Missouri area and the former Arkansas fracking zone…we also have many friends and colleagues from the Gulf Coast who have been directly impacted by BP: the largest oil spill in US history happened in OUR home (for 6 fantastic years). OUR friends’ homes. OUR ecological haven.

    This year I’ve had to warn people, in fact begging close friends not to take jobs there; or eat the seafood there; or take a swim there without doing some cold hard research first. The denial is just heartbreaking from those who lived there before the spill, and think that nothing has changed. That’s a lie also fed by tourism. Even worse, BP continues deepwater drilling: it’s the fox ruling the henhouse and it sickens me to the core.

    And to top things off, Washington DC since its own earthquake in August has had over 100 aftershocks around Dominion Nuclear Power Plant! The 70s era plant at North Anna was built right on the epicenter (near Mineral, VA: incredibly, Mineral is under 10 miles from the North Anna Reactor), where the plant is. This is last August’s earthquake which damaged the Washington Monument and National Cathedral.

    And now radioactive tritium is being found from sampling around the plant. http://www.readthehook.com/102935/dangerous-leak-nuke-watchdogs-say-tritium-water-frightening-sign

    Right now we’re impacted. My husband just drove over 2 hours around this zone after a recent earthquake (last week) at Mineral changed our travel plans. Under the circumstances I decided to cancel.

    Treating ecological genocide as a global crime similar to an international warcrime sounds like an excellent idea to me.

    Rest assured that my lights will be out tonight.

  4. … the same procedure as every year. I understand that it is better to arise attention than not, but treating our common environment gently is something that needs to be done everytime.

    Yet, I get pissed off when I read that I have to save water here where I live. The results are probably the same as if people near the equator stay in the shadow to save some sun rays for me. 🙁

    So, no I won’t turn off the tap while brushing my teeth. I stopped doing that after I had to repair the drain twice, which cost more to the environment than the water (we have plenty of it here in Bavaria).

    Best regards

    Taki

    PS. I actually couldn’t darken my office last night, since I had to work, but I have some days off next week and I promise to sleep longer. 😉

  5. I really feel this is a great idea and for the second year my wife and I turned off the lights and burned the candles till it was time to go to sleep.

    I hope more people will start following this idea for we have to do something to save our world.

    Take Care,
    Thomas

  6. Rob a bank? You go to jail. Run a company that sends deadly radioactive waste directly into the ocean, where it continues to wreak havoc for 12,000 years? Well, then you get a multibillion-dollar bonus for three years running. It’s gross!

    1. yeah, and smart meters run by utility companies. wait ’til you see that gimmick. smarts my arse and my wallet at the same time. don’t be fooled, all.

  7. Hi Fed. Kat and I have been in Ireland for 4 days, so only the fridge was left on in our home.

    Any Father Ted fans here? We went to mass, Saturday evening. Ardal O’Hanlon was sat next to me, he must have chuckled a bit to himself when the priest was giving the service.

    Thank you for the link re: Kate and David.

    Kind regards
    Damian.

  8. It’s why I’m usually so miserable.

    Funny, that’s not an impression I get at all — reflective, introspective and thoughtful yes, balanced with a good dose of humour, wit and undisguised honesty.

    While I’m always happy to do my part to conserve, recycle where possible, re-purpose where I can, enjoy a candlelit hour or two, be as civil as I can to friend and foe, share, donate to worthy causes, etc., I’m still not entirely ‘sold’ on the energy ‘efficient’ light bulb and the some of the ‘green’ rhetoric out there. Until such time that the mercury content in CFLs is addressed and how to consistently dispose of said CFLs, they’re unlikely to make it to my shopping list any time soon to say nothing of the fact that they produce mediocre lighting at best and within a generation or so, Opticians will have a booming business! There are no long-term studies yet on the effects of low levels of ultraviolet exposure from CFLs (case in point being the UV exposure from those tanning beds which have now come under tremendous scrutiny many, many years after being all the rage and ‘safe’). There are some cases where workers at CFL-producing factories have had mercury poisoning. If forced, I’ll figure out how to incorporate LED lighting into the household.

    To be quite frank, I’m not sure anymore which colour Kool-Aid® to drink and on which day to drink it. 😉

  9. My parents incorporated recycling into part of my (and my siblings) chores. We were taught about not wasting water (turning off running water while brushing teeth, while soaping up in the shower etc.) also, I hope this isn’t too awful to say, but in light of (every pun intended) trying to conserve water; the toilet uses a lot, therefore, “if it’s brown, flush it down, if it’s yellow, let it mellow”. First heard that saying after my cousins survived a mudslide in the San Francisco bay area. Sums it up but not the way I would usually word it. So when I became a mother I carried on to do things in a caring way toward the environment and now that my sons are grown they are concerned adults too.

    I haven’t got into the habit of my own shopping bags yet. But I will. I use the bags for other needs. So I figure if I were to buy garbage bags I’d be adding to the plastic nightmare so I reuse the grocery bags. Before it was “a thing to do” I went down the back country road where I grew up and picked up garbage. My father would have to come and get the many large garbage bags that were to be picked up and take them to the garbage dump and pay to dump them. Did that twice a year. As the old saying goes “no good deed goes unpunished” (strange saying-but guess it does make sense). Found out later that my brother also did that and I just continued it on after he graduated from High School and moved. This was back in the early 1970s before some states put funds in their budgets for road clean-up.

    I have generally been very light on car use throughout my life. I have tried to combine errands into one trip etc. I have mostly lived in the mountains so I would go to the city once a month and arrange all appointments and shopping for a marathon event. Even rode my bike to work for a few years. Depended on the shift. And where I live I would use mass transit more if it were available. When it was available in my working days I would take it to and from work. The beginning of the year I was using my car too much for luxury. I was going to my favorite park for peace of mind. But usually I try to be aware of my carbon footprint. If everyone were to care it would go along way to make things better.

    Again music says it well in Rush’s song “Men in High Places” (the politicians/CEOs are the ones to make the huge difference). Sorry I don’t remember the actual name of the song. But you know what I am trying to convey.

    In the USA they are putting in 15 coal powered energy plants that are not required to be put in under the clean air requirements. I think clean air, water, soil is a humans basic need for survival. I believe most humans know that and would like to see it as a priority.

  10. “Earth Hour 2012 is a celebration of people power” said a WWF official. It’s not a big effort for us to switch off lights for an hour, but hats off to some ‘troubled’ cities in Libya, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, who joined the Earth Hour movement for the first time this year. I think they give us a great lesson in courage, will power and positivity.

    But there are 1.3 billion people on earth without access to electricity (that is almost 20% of the world’s population) and lack of access to electricity of course limits opportunities for people to improve their livelihoods, health and education, so I was thinking that the symbolism of Earth Hour might seem like self-indulgence by the wealthy and might be completely misplaced. Actually, what I mean is far better expressed in this article.

    Oh and here is something for those who want to ban Chinese lanterns in the UK… 😉

  11. Turning your lights off for one hour does not make up for wastefulness the remainder of the year. Is it supposed to make you feel better that you were able to live in the dark for an hour?

    What makes a difference is to always be aware of the energy you use and turn off the lights when you don’t need them.

    As one example in my life, many times when taking a shower, I never turn on the lights. What do you really need to see when you are soaping up in the shower anyway??

    Thanks.
    Andrew

  12. 60p for a first class stamp!!!!!!!!!

    I’ll never have too many about me.

  13. I hear E.on have pulled out of the UK’s new nuclear power building programme. Great news, bit of a spanner in the works.

    Damian

  14. The 3rd of April I posted a comment in regards to the above topic. I missed putting in one word about the coal power plants that are going to be built.

    What I meant to say is that they are not required to build them under the new guidelines. They are being allowed, at this time, to put them in under the old environmental guidelines.

  15. David, you must came to the ARGENTINA, PLEASE, we want to have one chance to see you in a live show.

    Thanks.

  16. When I go to the shops bravely with my tote bags in hand sometime I think while I’m there, an island of plastic shopping bags (sized 4 times of kilometer squares bigger than Italy) is now floating somewhere on the ocean ….

    For the same reason I’m convinced that it’s quite useless just only this hour of darkness, maybe it’s like a drop in the sea… however every single effort can let us sort of Planetary consciousness, that is “is the recognition of the vital interdependence and essential interconnection of all humankind and the earth. It is a consciousness that can help us create a shared vision of a united humanity living in harmony with nature.”

    “In nova fert animus (Ovid)
    My heart makes me tell of forms that have
    been changed into new shapes.”

    Happy Easter everyone, to David and family, to Fed.
    Elisabetta

  17. I’m afraid that the real problem isn’t ecological, but on the demographic side (and sadly, there’s nothing we can do). The Earth can’t support the occidental way of life (sanitary conditions / food / fresh water / medical care / energy / transports / disposable economy etc.) to 6 billion people… and I think that it will be rather difficult to explain to Chinese or Indian people not to follow our example.

    1. Well written xvince1, and although I’m not sure that there isn’t anything to do, I fully agree that we aren’t examples to follow (the most of us).

      Taki

    1. These feuding rock stars, eh? Love that ‘lying dogs’ line.

      He writes a good, long letter, I’ll give him that, and I think he makes some fair points. I don’t know the situation between him and the others, or what abuse may have been thrown around between them, or how it was thrown, but it must be a constant source of annoyance to keep having to bat away reunion rumours. How boring. It’s also rather selfish and even a bit spiteful of his former bandmates to put such public pressure on him to embrace a reunion if he’s made it clear that he doesn’t want to, for whatever reasons, I think.

      Had to laugh at the comment from Tim Pockette (about how he should attend if only to apologise for Chinese Democracy), though.

    2. I agree. I thought his letter was rather eloquent, I wonder if he had a “FEd” help him in his writing. It is interesting how he was very cautious in discussing the fans but of course he would be – they made him rich.

      As for the issues in the band and the members, there has been lots of stuff documented. This is a band where nothing was off limits.

      But if you ever read the Rolling Stone interview you’ll also see that Axl was really the only “sane” one in the band. Of course he certainly knows how to get wild and he has done some crazy stuff but he was the one that was the brains of the operation. Just like Mick Jagger is the brains behind the Stones. Axl was not the one who was “Dancing with Mr. Brownstone.” That was really Steven Adler and Slash. I wouldn’t be surprised if the excessive drug habit of Slash is what put the divide between the two but in the end only Axl and Slash know what the issue is even though Slash says he doesn’t.

      Maybe it’s totally selfish as I did see them a few times way back when on the Illusion tour but to me if they do or they don’t reunite doesn’t matter as my life will peacefully continue.

      As for the Hall, I was wondering how they could induct a band when the band is still around with new members. The Hall is inducting Guns and Roses. There is no asterisk after that stating only these members or is there? Of course it doesn’t seem like the new band will ever make the same impact as the original. The band definitely belongs in the RNR HOF but maybe it is just too soon especially since they are still overlooking some other bands that have been around longer such as KISS and RUSH.

      Thanks.

      Andrew

      1. I feel sorry for Axl, to tell you the truth. Going by the reaction to the story alone, it seems the majority of fans are set against him.

        Nobody can doubt that Slash is a fine guitar player, but I think Axl was, and I suppose still is, an equally talented master of his own instrument – his voice. What a voice it is and a large part of the band’s initial success.

        Fans can be so fickle but you’re right: they made all the band members rich and so are somewhat entitled to feel a little selfish now and then. My personal feelings on this have changed slightly down the years, and in no small part due to Pink Floyd’s own tussles, but I wonder which is perhaps most selfish: to continue in a band without its key band members, or to be the key band members who do not wish to continue for whatever reason. I don’t blame Axl for carrying on under the G N’R name (and actually think he probably has more right than the others to do so, as the frontman, songwriter and lead vocalist), but you have to respect anyone who chooses not to trade on past glories and start again.

    3. And here’s a follow-up. I’ve read it twice and still can’t understand how he saw anything positive with respect to him and the Hall. All I have read so far is that his name was booed every time it was mentioned. But Billie Joe Armstrong did give him credit for having one of the best rock and roll voices ever.

      The one thing that bugs me about this whole episode is that no one even mentions that Izzy Stradlin did not attend the ceremony. Izzy was also an original member who left on his own as opposed to Steven Adler who was fired from the band. Izzy always steered clear of the politics and actually released some good music afterwards. His first solo effort is definitely worth a listen and I always hear the influence of classic Rolling Stones tunes.

      It’s a shame that Axl’s actions are overshadowing Izzy.

      Thanks.
      Andrew

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