On Saturday 28th March about a gazillion people around the globe switched their lights off for an hour, with a happy smile on their face. After that they went sleeping contently, having the mediatized impression that they helped save the world. Clean conscience.
“Switch off your lights for 60 minutes… and stop global warming,” says the WWF advert. What a Brilliant Idea! How have all these scientists not thought of this before?
Now, let me get this straight: I am all for Worldpeace, Saving the Whales, Preserving the Planet. But let´s get real. Cheap demagogy like Al Gore’s movie or the Earth Hour initiative will not change the problematic in any way. They are meant to ´educate´ people, and to mobilize them. I guess that is fine.
On the other hand, I am convinced that the strongly implied message of virtuous and holy self-denial by switching of lights for an hour is absolute the wrong one. I save more CO2 (equivalent) emissions by having invested in replacing my light bulbs timely, and driving a German car with more filters in it than an average Manhattan skyscraper, than by turning lights off for Earth Hour. On the contrary, electricity nets all over the globe will have dumped a precious hour of unused current into the ground, and will have had to put auxiliary (polluting) units on to struggle with the biggest power-demand peak in human history when all those bonobo´s switched on their precious lights again…
I am against light pollution. I love watching the stars. I am for reducing lights on highways permanently, and against this nasty habit of lighting up church towers with Eiffel tower ambitions all year long. I asked my city council three years ago to extinguish the power-eating bastard light poles next to my house that kill half of my star field, and only give clarity to the sheep in my back garden. Non is possibile… Can´t be done. But the same city did switch off the lights in the city hall for an hour. And feels good about it.