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Headshot of me wearing red lipstick Kara Babcock

Mmm, sizzling electrons

Published .

That refreshing fragrance wafting toward your nostrils is the sweet smell of electrons zipping through wires into my house, my friend. For you see, I have not turned off my electrical appliances; my lights remain shining in several rooms of the house; and even if I powered down my computer, my brother and his friends continue to consume enough electricity to light a small third-world country, I'm sure.

Allow me to be critical for a moment. While I applaud the ideals that Earth Hour attempts to promote, the method of promotion is lacking. I did not participate in Earth Hour.

There are some who mistakenly believe this is an attempt to save power. Were it so, I would criticize it as an example of the typical Western "binge" attitude designed to intensely compensate for overconsumption the rest of the year round. It's obvious, however, that turning off one's lights for an hour a year isn't going to save any significant power. Indeed, sometimes other factors may cause power consumption to increase. Earth Hour isn't about saving juice; it's a symbolic gesture.

As far as symbols go, however, it's all cymbals. Earth Hour is global chest-beating. While I'm sure there are many environmentally-conscious individuals participating, there are just as many, if not more, ordinary people involved who are not going to do more for the environment beyond these sixty minutes.

Earth Hour wants to increase awareness of climate change and the need to be environmentally responsible--I'm all for that. Yet as an educational tool, Earth Hour fails miserably, since most of the media required for education also require electricity--ironically, National Geographic is airing a television program concerning how to reduce one's electricity usage. So, should you turn off the TV and miss the educational opportunity? Or should you watch the TV and be a hypocrite?

The organization and promotion of the Earth Hour event itself is remarkably well done, and I applaud the WWF for that accomplishment. They do offer educational materials for download, as well as links to further resources. That's great. Unfortunately, Earth Hour won't make a difference in the minds of most people. This may be a cynical observation, but I suspect it's also an accurate one.

If you've participate in Earth Hour (or even organized it) and are a trully environmentally conscious individual, then this rant is not directed toward you. Too many of those who participate in Earth Hour are going to turn their lights back on and then feel like they've "done enough" for another year. They've done their part for the environment, and hey, it feels good to participate in a worldwide event!