A Free-Market Energy Blog

Human Achievement Hour: Lights On!

By William Yeatman -- March 28, 2014

“[P]eople are living longer and healthier because the world is wealthier, and fossil energy supports economic growth and technological progress in scores of countries around the world.”

– Marlo Lewis, “‘Sustainability’: Some Free Market Reflections,” February 11, 2011.

Annually since 2009, my colleague Michelle Minton has organized a celebration of economic liberty for one hour at the end of March, known as Human Achievement Hour. (See here, here, here, and here.) This year, the event falls on Saturday evening March 29, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. in your respective time zone.

Observing Human Achievement Hour is about paying tribute to the human innovations that have allowed people around the globe to live better, fuller lives, while also defending the basic human right to use energy to improve the quality of life of all people.

To be precise, Human Achievement Hour is a cheerful response to the depressing alarmism of modern environmentalism. The gloomy greens propagate a message that virtually all economic development  is evil, because it necessarily despoils pristine ecology.

We give ascendancy to mankind, and readily recognize that the surest path to both human and environmental well-being is wealth creation, fossil-fuel production, transportation, refinement, and consumption included.

Private property rights and free markets are the key to wealth creation, not political meddling .

Is this Materialistic? Y-E-S!

The editors at Ad Busters and Mother Jones may experience self-loathing whenever they buy a pair of sneakers. But not me.

I sleep well at night and have no problem looking in the mirror, because I know that material preoccupations are inherent to a vibrant market economy, which, again, is the essential mechanism of human development. Put simply, I am an unabashed materialist, insofar as schools and hospitals are filled with materials.

Throughout this week, in order to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Human Achievement Hour, other CEI colleagues will post blogs on OpenMarket, paying homage to various human achievements, including 3-D printing, driverless cars, and bionic eyes. Cool, cool stuff.

How Can You Celebrate?

In fact, Human Achievement Hour isn’t the only holiday observed come Saturday night’s hour. Contemporaneously, the World Wide Fund for Nature sponsors Earth Hour whereby participants symbolically renounce the environmental impacts of modern technology by turning off their lights.

While Earth Hour supporters may suggest rolling brown-outs in India are desirable, we respectfully disagree. Reliable electricity is one human achievement people can celebrate. To this end, you can take part in Human Achievement Hour by keeping your lights on for one hour.  Intermittency and energy poverty not!

You can also celebrate by chatting with friends or family on your telephone or computer, watching the news on TV, listening to music, or even taking a hot shower. Or getting something from the refrigerator or even freezer.

Or how about a reading of Julian Simon from Ultimate Resource 2? “False prophecies of doom can damage us in many ways,” he said on p. 348.

And three pages earlier: “The is no physical or economic reason why human resourcefulness and enterprise cannot forever continue to respond to impending shortages and existing problems with new expedients that, after an adjustment period, leave us better off than before the problem arose.”

Lights on!


William Yeatman is Senior Fellow in Environmental Regulation and Energy Markets at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He states: “Share how you are celebrating by tweeting about the human achievement that makes your life easier @ceidotorg and use #HAH2014.”  [Ed. Note: Or call Big Marlo]

One Comment for “Human Achievement Hour: Lights On!”

  1. Bill Vancouver  

    It’s 7:30 PM Mar 29th and almost dark here in PDT time zone. All our lights are bright and shining awaiting the annointed hour. Several of our neighbors are in agreement it is time for the WWF, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, etc., reign of Eco-terror to end. Mother Nature, the scientific method, and empirical historical data shall prevail. The end of the biggest “scientific” hoax in the history of mankind is rapidly approaching.
    Here’s wishing Master Resources a successful 2014.


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