Earth Hour Smearth Hour

2 Apr

Call me an Earth Day Grinch if you will but I find the whole notion of thinking there is any benefit at all to turning off our lights and appliances for an hour one day a year is just absurd. The local news photos I saw of Dundas Square in Toronto just before and during Earth Hour — the only reason I know it even took place — seemed to sum up the futility of the exercise pretty well.

During Earth Hour, only a few of the scores of the scores of towering, blindingly bright signs, screens and ads that have become the hallmark of this strange Tokyo-like space were darkened or turned off. Giant backlit posters continued to attempt to convince hapless consumers that if only they could buy the outfits or gadgets portrayed, their lives would be truly wonderful. Cars still rushed up and down Yonge Street, contaminating the urban air, and pedestrians remained glued to their energy-sucking cell phones.

Electricity use province wide only dropped by 2.7 percent apparently, and I’m not surprised.

Earth Hour is another one of these easy-way-out endeavours that require practically nothing from us, and as such, do nothing to really address or begin to address our voracious mining of the earth’s fuels and minerals. The vast majority of us in the world’s affluent nations don’t want to change our lifestyles in any meaningful way, so that per capita we consume and toss away use far more non-renewable resources than people in the developing world.

The Conservative government, meanwhile, clings to its horrible tar sands project as if it were it were capable of working miracles and now, having left the Kyoto Accord, act like environmental standards are just a sort of nuisance bone to throw to those inconsequential few who didn’t vote for them in the last election.

Next month I will be in Port au Prince, where every hour, just about, is Earth Hour and people would love to have even one tenth of the commodities and services we enjoy and take for granted here.

But I think if we really want to do the earth a favour, we ought to leave on the lights and think about the big picture, dark as it is.

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