This Saturday is the third annual, 2009 edition of the Earth Hour campaign to turn off the lights for one hour to bring attention to the alleged crisis of global climate change. The organizer, the World Wide Fund for Nature, states:
For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009.
Here is a better idea: leave the lights on in observation of Human Achievement Hour as suggested by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Such brightness celebrates the ultimate resource of human ingenuity and the master resource of energy.
The above competition reminds me of an effort in the late 1990s to rename Earth Day as Resourceful Earth Day in honor of the late Julian Simon (1932–1998).The Heartland Institute held an event in Chicago that some of us spoke at, but the counter movement did not catch on. But maybe this April 22nd needs a little competition too!
This also brings me back to my hot youth at Rollins College when a campus-wide letter asked me to participate in the national “Fast for a World Harvest” day. The pitch from the organizers was:
“Choose to go hungry for one day. Why? To identify with the world’s poor.”
To which I began my editorial in my school paper, The Sandspur:
On the designated day, November 21 , America was asked to fast. I did not. In fact I had breakfast for the first time in a long while, lunch and dinner, and ended the day with a chocolate cake.
The rest of my editorial explained how capitalism was the solution, not the problem, and self-sacrifice was not the strategic or moral way to deal with the issue.
Needless to say, I am not a good candidate to turn off the lights and otherwise pare my energy usage. It is hard to imagine, in fact, a prime-time hour of energyless stupor. So I will consume my usual amount of energy–but no more than that. I have mellowed in the last 35 years.
Still, this is good time to celebrate the wonders of energy! It is a very good time to remind ourselves that the planetary emergency is not 5 billion people enjoying modern forms of energy but 1.5 billion people that do not have electricity, oil or gas for heating and cooking, and transportation fuels.
P.S. The Cooler Heads Coalition/CEI had a picture of Thomas Edison on a blog feed notice about Human Achievement Hour. So to Dr. Marlo Lewis and my other friends there, I offer these two Edison quotations:
“A central station plant ought to be busy twenty-four hours. It doesn’t have to sleep.”
“I am ashamed at the number of things around my house and shops that are done by animals—human beings, I mean—and ought to be done by a motor without any sense of fatigue or pain. Hereafter a motor must do all the chores.”
– Source: Theresa Collins and Lisa Gitelman. Thomas Edison and Modern America. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2002, p. 60.