Being on Eastern Time (US) rather than Eastern Time (Oz), I’m afraid I slept through the excitement of Sydney’s “Earth Hour” when, from the Lord Mayor to the lowliest rummy lying in the gutter belching incandescent meth fumes, the entire city turned out its lights for one whole hour in order to stop global warming. You can see a satellite picture of it here. No, wait, that’s North Korea by night. Now there’s a guy who’s really doing his bit to save the planet. . .Shut down Sydney for an hour, and supposedly make a point about global warming? Yeah, they made a point all right: the point that gesture politics sucks arse. Bruce at Salmon Sheets looks at the "before and after" photo scams published in The Age (see pictures above) which purported to show the huge effect of the shut down -- presumably if the effect was so great, they wouldn't need to tart up their photos to fit the news? And in a second scam, as Andrew Yanderlou notes [hat tip Tim Blair],
The chart [pictured right] demonstrates that during the "Earth Hour" itself, Sydney used around the same amount of electricity as it had the two nights of similar levels of electricity use at the same time.So neither real, nor effective then. But on top of these two scams, there's an even bigger one that an uncharacteristically pointed Ed Hudgins highlights in his piece The New Cult of Darkness, which begins this way, a much deeper and more philosophical scam that is rapidly becoming all-pervasive: the idea that human life and human flourishing is un-natural, and something for which we must seek expiation from today's prevailing nature gods.
However, "Earth Hour" spectacularly caused a massive spike in electricity use in the two hours preceding the "Earth Hour" revealing the whole concept to be little more than a public relations scam and a contributor to global warming. Presumably this occurred as people brought forward the electricity using activities they had wanted to avoid during "Earth Hour."
Since early men ignited the first fires in caves, the unleashing of energy for light, heat, cooking and every human need has been the essence and symbol of what it is to be human. The Greeks saw Prometheus vanquishing the darkness with the gift of fire to men. The Romans kept an eternal flame burning in the Temple of Vesta. Our deepest thoughts and insights are described as sparks of fire in our minds. A symbol of death is a fading flame; Poet Dylan Thomas urged us to "rage, rage against the dying of the light."It was only a symbolic shutting down of a city, but what it symbolises is much darker than those photo-shopped pictures of a great city with its lights out. Unlike other animals who adapt themselves to their environment, human survival demands that we adapt the earth to ourselves; brightly lit cities are the greatest and most exciting symbol of our civilising success, of the life-affirming success at the production of our habitat. Hanging our head in shame at that success, however symbolically, is not heroic. It's not life-affirming. It's not something to celebrate. As Hudgins concludes:
Thus a symbol of the deepest social darkness is seen in the recent extinguishing of the lights of cities across Australia and in other industrialized countries, not as a result of power failures or natural disasters, not as a conscious act of homage for the passing of some worthy soul, but to urge us all to limit energy consumption for fear of global warming.
This is not the symbol of the death but, rather, of the suicide of a civilization. . .
The spectacle of a city skyline shining at night is the beauty of millions of individuals at their most human. Energy is not for conserving; it is for unleashing to serve us, to make our lives better, to allow us to realize our dreams and to reach for the stars, those bright lights that pierce the darkness of the night.Too right.
RELATED: Environment, Ethics, Australian Politics