What's good for the green goose is good for the differently colored gander.



Editor, USA Today

Dear Editor:
Bjorn Lomborg explains that "Earth Hour" is about feel-good self-indulgence and not about actually changing the world for the better ("'Earth Hour' won't change the world," March 25).

The reasoning that leads "Earth Hour" celebrants to conclude that humans "waste" resources producing artificial lighting and other modern amenities leads me to conclude that "Earth Hour" itself wastes humanity's most precious resource: creative human labor.

In the hour when lights are switched off for the "mere" purpose of making a political statement, much human labor is wastefully idled. During that hour, the process of de-polluting our clothing ("doing the laundry") doesn't happen; likewise for the process of de-polluting our dinner dishes and, indeed, de-polluting our bodies. During that hour, there's less studying for upcoming exams in physics or histology or 19th-century Russian literature. And that tinkering in the garage on projects that might be the progenitors of tomorrow's super-computer, water-fueled automobile engine, or other technological marvels that promote human well-being? It doesn't occur. One entire hour of human creativity down history's drain, lost forever. Kaput.

Of course, if Jones wants to make a political statement by turning off her lights for an hour, she should be free to do so. It's her business and it isn't really wasteful. But Jones should see that if Smith keeps his bulbs burning brightly, she has no more basis for accusing him of "wasting resources," "destroying the planet," or "threatening our children's future" than he has for accusing her of the very same offenses.





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. marion d.s. dreyfus on March 28, 2011 3:24 pm

    I was in southern China, and had to stay in a drafty home without electricity, lit only by fleeting sunlight or slim, guttering candles, eating food cooked over a twig-and-cow dung fire (absolutely one of my scarier experiences). The people were mostly grim, always cold, with laundry lines strung across their ‘living’ room, and cement floors transmitting more cold. Everything was done around or near to the fire. When night fell, and the fire-feed wood was done, they went to bed. There were no books or magazines around.

    Electricity would have transformed their lives–but they had none. Although I consider myself not unsavvy, these homes were eye-opening. Electricity would have made their lives longer, warmer, better, more comfortable, better fed and congruent with others of their age cohort in countries supplied with electricity.

    This rubbish with ‘Earth hour’ means nothing, does nothing, accomplishes nothing, and is embarrassingly condescending.


  2. Sumit Agrawal on March 29, 2011 3:51 pm

    I beg to differ… With some boring math and naive idealism, i will point something opposite..

    For 2 hrs, except for the refrigerator, no electrical power was consumed in my house.

    Lets say 100 houses in my condominium did it. that means 200 house-hours. Which means that one house can get 30 mins of electricity everyday for a year. 30-minutes is meaningful for places, where electricity is irregular.

    So, this idea can add 30 minutes of electricity to 1% of global population.

    Besides, i think the symbolism and appeal of the idea are also factors that will aid in bringing popular support to the cause of carbon-free energy.

    Maybe, u can say it is a fad, and it is non-serious, and insignificant. But it is not condescending. At least not for me. I do not think I am making a big difference. I also understand, even if everybody does it, even then it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

    However, it makes me and a lot of others recruits for the cause of carbon-free power. Further, it also makes me think,oh yes! i can save a lot of energy - around 10% every day. And it makes me think that i can be less wasteful of non-renewable resources.

    The power of the earth-hour idea is not in its economical impact but rather that it provides simple-minded people, like me, a way to be included in something bigger.

    An army of minions is no good u say… A collective sentiment is good, i say..

    But then, i could be wrong.. in my dark moments, i suspect that i am a sentimental soft character

  3. Anonymous on March 29, 2011 6:29 pm

    @Sumit, You wrote, “A collective sentiment is good, i say..” Actually, a collective anything isn’t good for anything, but an individual sentiment is the most important thing in the world. Your flawed logic and math workout really don’t mean anything to anyone who knows anything about power generation and usage. Your desire for carbon free power makes no sense at all, especially the examples you give through flawed reasoning. If you’re trying to stop global warming, just remember the biggest source of carbon is the oceans, and your small period of not using energy will not make any difference at all. If you want to feel good by doing good works, then give someone a job, teach someone something. Just spare us the dramatic gestures and empty symbolism of the left as it’s very boring, sophomoric, and cliche.

  4. Sumit Agrawal on March 31, 2011 5:37 pm

    anon, u might be correct; if u dont like mine or general sentiment about Earth hour, and you say its worthless, thats ok. U might be correct.

    However, when you attack me on another front, and say that ANY and ALL collective sentiment, to do good, is worthless and just a hypocrisy, you pi$$ me with your blanket bombing and you lead us into a classic political and societal debate of Right vs Left.. and i think, going with the modern public thought - that both have good things to choose from.

    I like a strong collective sentiment for many reasons - it is usually correct because it is better informed, it thinks about long-term progress of our world, it is powerful, and it wins. Its the trend.

    I figure that ideologically you are on extreme right and you do not like small half-measures such as ‘Earth hour’ . I respect where you are coming from but I think but I think that your criticism and more worrying for you, your philosophy is outdated, because extreme right lost the battle way back for an ironic reason.

    Smart guys decided that sacrificing that extra bit of competitiveness and replacing it with some co-operation with the society, actually made them more competitive. The ideology of ‘extreme right’ in business, which had taken some inspiration from philosophies of biological evolutionary competitiveness, lost its battle to a more competitive mutation born out of birth of left and right.

    Finally, I would have liked to use your prescription to ‘feel good’ but I have already employed several people and I have taught a few. Science and math to engineers, but i was lousy there.


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