My house during Earth Hour.
Earth Hour happened last night for the fifth year in a row, allowing people who don’t otherwise think much about energy consumption to make a symbolic gesture of penance. I choose the word penance deliberately, since the act is arguably as meaningless, and done primarily to ease one’s own conscience.
It isn’t that I oppose conservation, energy efficiency and awareness about finite resources. But Earth Hour is none of those things. Like most movements generated by “slacktivists”, nothing about Earth Hour does something beneficial for either the environment or the realities of finite energy.
Nor does my extra consumption of energy during that hour make any real difference on anybody or anything. My gesture of defiance was equally meaningless, since an extra hour of high energy usage won’t make any long-term difference in terms of consumption or affordability. In essence, my meaningless act was simply the symbolic flipping off of the other side for offering up such a trite activity as somehow being relevant or important in any way.
Every year we go through this charade and every year it’s just as stupid. We all turn off our lights and huddle in the dark and I suppose the point is to think about how collectively we could reduce our environmental impact if we did this on a semi-regular basis. But we never will.
See, I can get behind an idea that actually has a plan. For instance, I wouldn’t support the symbolic deployment of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan for one hour because it’s not relevant to the struggle. Nothing can be accomplished in an hour, whether it’s supposed to inspire people or not.
What’s more, I get the sense people partake in Earth Hour not because they wish to engage in a meaningful self-analysis of man’s impact on the environment and their own personal effect on the world. Instead they’re merely following, lemming-like, with whatever happens to be the pop culture flavour of the week. In the 90′s it was AIDS, today it’s the Earth, next decade it’ll probably be something else.
Look, if people were really interested in saving the environment, they’d close the borders, enact a one-child policy, and argue against economic stimulus so that the economy can contract to a point where “sustainability” actually means something. But they aren’t interested. They just want to make the appearance of caring because not caring means you’re either a climate change denier, pro tar sands developer, or other assorted nonsense.
Sustainability. There’s a word I’ll never quite understand. It appears the environmentalists are quite confused when it comes to what that means, since they want people to work for a goal that has never really been defined. Even if you conserve energy, or bike to work, or eat within the so called 100-mile diet, it’s all offset by population increase. There’s really no evidence that anything we do now or in the future can offset the inevitable resource crunch.
At the heart of environmentalist philosophy is the realization that advanced civilizations aren’t compatible since we produce far more than can be regenerated, which is why I think we undergo these little symbolic gestures. It alleviates whatever the environmental equivalent is for white liberal guilt.