The first Earth Hour was ten years ago, celebrated in Sydney, Australia; it was a lovely idea, a sort of rolling global Kumbaya moment where we lit candles and made using less electricity fun.
It took off around the world in 2008 and 2009, everywhere but the USA where the trolls promised to turn on extra lights and even highjacked the website address. The professional deniers went on about how we environmentalists want to squat in our mud huts in the dark. Later, a certain candidate for President tweeted his opinions loud and clear.
Conservative columnists complained that environmentalists wanted to put us back to the dark ages before electricity. They ridiculed what was essentially a sweet idea to raise consciousness. They made it political, which Earth Hour never was; last year one wrote:
It’s bewildering that many Americans will see virtue in turning off their lights and never stop to think that their self-imposed blackout is actually a luxury in advanced economies while in Venezuela and North Korea and other nations that reject capitalism, blackouts are just a way of life. Many of these folks who will happily turn off their lights — thereby signaling their virtue to their neighbors — also support the self-declared socialist who is running for president. Why can’t they make the connection?
Earth Hour has struggled, and has been on life support for years; even in 2011 I was writing Will the Last Person Celebrating Earth Hour Please Turn Out The Lights? And even then the comments were full of trolls complaining about Al Gore’s carbon footprint. It wears you down, year after year of being trolled about Earth Hour.
A few years ago I even thought it was pretty much dead, and lighting candles felt more like a Jewish Yahrtzeit, where one lights candles in memory of the dead: “It is a shame really, it was a good idea, and it did raise awareness. At 8:30PM on Saturday I will turn out some lights and light a candle. May its memory be for a blessing.”
But to mix my religious metaphors, this year it is time for a resurrection. It’s a good way to send a little message, that there are people who do actually listen to scientists and who worry about climate change.
It’s a message from people who don’t like what is being done to the EPA, to climate research, to NASA, to fuel efficiency standards, to Energy Star, to pollution controls. It’s not a big deal, turning out the lights for an hour and it probably doesn’t make that much difference. But it is a pushback against the trolls and the deniers.
It’s a statement of where we stand. There is the reality of climate change staring us in the face, and if Americans cannot vote at the polls right now, they can vote with their light switches. So turn out your lights for Earth Hour. Send them a message. Turn out the lights at 8:30 Saturday night in solidarity with Earth Hour, the climate, and reality.
More information at Earth Hour.