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Why Earth Hour Is a Waste of Time and Energy

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the 'like'-this-if-you-want-to-seem-like-you-care-but-are-too-lazy-to-do-anything dept.

Earth 466

An anonymous reader writes "Next Saturday from 8:30PM to 9:30PM EST is 'Earth Hour' (0:30 to 1:30 UTC on Sunday). Millions of people will be participating by shutting off their lights for an hour to show they care about the environment. However, according to this article in Slate, Earth Hour is simply 'vain symbolism,' and it won't actually save any energy — quite the opposite. Quoting: 'Notice that you have not been asked to switch off anything really inconvenient, like your heating or air-conditioning, television, computer, mobile phone, or any of the myriad technologies that depend on affordable, plentiful energy electricity and make modern life possible. If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759? Hypothetically, switching off the lights for an hour would cut CO2 emissions from power plants around the world. But, even if everyone in the entire world cut all residential lighting, and this translated entirely into CO2 reduction, it would be the equivalent of China pausing its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes. In fact, Earth Hour will cause emissions to increase. As the United Kingdom's National Grid operators have found, a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"

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466 comments

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205339)

first

I would have been first (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205341)

But I couldnt find my keyboard in the dark

Re: How about this? (5, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#43205505)

Why can't we just fucking STOP the twice a year transition to/from Daylight Savings Time?!??!

Likely as not, it would save more energy, and certainly help with human internal clocks.

From what I understand, they actually observer statistically distinct spikes in heart attacks and suicides with the time changes each year.

Re: How about this? (5, Interesting)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about a year ago | (#43205541)

Only a politician would think you could cut a foot from one end of a blanket, sew it to the other end, and have a bigger blanket.

Re: How about this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205637)

I don't care what they do with DST, as long as they stop fucking changing it. Updating DST offset tables on every obscure embedded device and appliance is a god damn nightmare even in small offices. I shudder to think what the big outfits have to deal with.

Remove it? Fine. But only if you have god damn constitutional amendment forbidding it be reinstated in the future. (Removing it, though is trivial for most applications. Most devices have a 'don't use DST' because there are areas of the country that don't observe DST at all)

Re: How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205999)

Most devices have a 'don't use DST' because there are areas of the country that don't observe DST at all)

And those who haven't are probably not important enough for it to matter.
Having automated lights turn on and off one hour too early for a couple of decades until they are replaced is mostly not a problem. If we only replace those embedded devices where it actually matters the big problem will be deciding on permanent winter or permanent summer time.

Re: How about this? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#43205851)

Studies have proven that having DST at all does save energy - artificial lights used fewer hours per day. I don't know if staying on that time all year would negate that savings or not.

Re: How about this? (1, Insightful)

Endo13 (1000782) | about a year ago | (#43206027)

And other studies done when DST was increased a few years ago showed increased energy use due to more home AC use. AC uses a lot more power than artificial lighting, and home AC is generally a lot less efficient than commercial AC.

But that's all moot, because you can achieve the same thing as DST simply by having places of business open and close an hour earlier. Except, of course, without the downside of stupidly forcing everyone to change their clocks and adjust to a different time twice a year.

So how about this: just switch to DST year-round. Maybe then people will realize how stupid it is to set clocks off by an hour. I mean really, if we're going to do this it makes more sense to simply use GMT everywhere and forget about time zones all together. After all, we're already not using the best time for our time zones so having clocks for any purpose other than keeping track of time is already gone.

Re: How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205911)

So you like having the sun come up at 4:00AM in the Summer? I personally have a lot more things requiring daylight going on at 10:00 PM than I do at 3:30 AM.

I'm going outside to rev my car for an hour. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205349)

Then I'm going to cut down 6 trees and key 4 people's cars.

Re:I'm going outside to rev my car for an hour. (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about a year ago | (#43205411)

I'm right behind you - I just had remote start installed on my wife's car.

(Though in all fairness, she was just sitting in the cold car for 10 minutes waiting for the defroster anyway...)

Re:I'm going outside to rev my car for an hour. (4, Funny)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about a year ago | (#43205491)

Protip: Open the garage door first.

Slacktivism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205363)

If it's the least you can do, the wealthy, Internet-savvy Westerners of this world will do it.

There's a place for vain symolism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205365)

Fuck Bjorn Lomborg, the guy has no insight or integrity. He is a stuffed shirt and nothing more.

Nuke gay whales for Christ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205369)

"Millions of people will be participating by shutting off their lights for an hour to show they care about the environment"

No they won't. Nobody believes this bullshit anyway except the media and the government; and that's because the government likes the power and the media likes the government to have power. Fuck your "Earth Hour", I will spend it standing in front of my fridge wasting energy.

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (5, Insightful)

blippo (158203) | about a year ago | (#43205427)

Like most, if not all other enviromental efforts, it's all about talk and symbolism, and very nearly nothing about actually doing the math...

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (4, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43205531)

Like most, if not all other environmental efforts, it's all about talk and symbolism, and very nearly nothing about actually doing the math...

Math is hard.

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (4, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43205671)

Let's go shopping!

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205487)

The extra energy comes from the 'dont tread on me' tea-party types who, when given a helpful tip, suggestion, or advice, will actively defy it at cost to themselves or others. "Michelle Obama tryin' to tell us what we can and cant eat?? Just for that I'm gonna go get a couple 'a baconaters! Damn lie-burals tellin me how to live muh life!"

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205551)

And by 'actively defy' I mean they will intentionally do the opposite to further increase the effect the suggestion/advice was intended to mitigate.

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205741)

"when given a helpful tip, suggestion, or advice,"

Sorry, I haven't seen any helpful tips here moron. Please try again.

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205889)

So it is all the Tea Parties fault?? A group of people that have had enough with taxation and stood up to the GOP on it and forced them to grow a friggin spine are the big bad mean spirited people in this here game? I thought all you liberals were all for peace and harmony and all the races just getting along and here you are baiting and trolling against the Tea Party. Bet you even agreed with Nancy Pelosi when she called them Nazis. Why is it that the Democrats have this problem? Thankfully I am a Libertarian and hate all of you that are not and since I am not a white person I will pull the race card on you. Sheesh

Re:Nuke gay whales for Christ (2)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | about a year ago | (#43205521)

Fuck your "Earth Hour", I will spend it standing in front of my fridge wasting energy.

That's a long time to rearrange the magnets on your fridge.

why promoting something is a waste is a waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205389)

#IGNORANTHYPOCRITE

The problem with most environmentalist ideas (2, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43205409)

is exactly this. Now I dont know anyone who in their right mind wants to "destroy the environment" yet for the most part, environmentalists work on a knee jerk reaction style of attack. "green" energy is too expensive to compete with proven yet "dirty" tech? well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel! we cant use plain old light bulbs anymore, that use more power (and give off heat, thus meaning one could in theory keep their heater lower) and now we are stuck with CFLs that are worse for the environment than the old bulbs!

The idea of "saving the earth" is a good one, but on the other hand, the earth will be fine long after humans inhabit it.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (5, Insightful)

cyborg_zx (893396) | about a year ago | (#43205721)

"Saving the Earth," sounds better than "Saving ourselves," even though the later is plainly more honest on any environmental issue you care to name.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (3, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year ago | (#43205737)

"green" energy is too expensive to compete with proven yet "dirty" tech? well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel!

Yes, we should just let everyone burn cheap dirty fuel without any let or hindrance. Why should they pay anything for the health costs to the community from people who killed by cancer, the changes in climate, or anything else? It's only those commie greenies who think polluters should have to pay for the harm they do. We all know that if we just let business make the maximum profit in the shortest time then everything else will solve itself.

environmentalists work on a knee jerk reaction style of attack.

Whereas climate change deniers will just find some silly statement some environmentalist said and try to use it to discredit everything any environmentalist ever said. So they can go back to using "plain old lightbulbs", driving their SUVs, and not giving a crap about the next generation.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43205877)

thank you, for proving my point actually.

no one is saying that we cant ease out "dirty" tech, simply that we do it over time. Instead of inflating the existing costs of enery to make green techs look better now, all while hurting the people at the bottom the most, gas is 4 bucks a gallon, 10 years ago it was 98 cents. instead of trying to make it all happen at once (in the scheme of things) let the tech mature. All technology matures, some faster than others, but let the tech mature and bring the price down to the levels of mature tech. not everyone jumps in to be a early adopter, most people wait for the price to drop, a 10K PC 8 years ago costs a few hundred bucks today.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43205909)

Without any adoption the tech will never advance.

$4/gallon is still very cheap for gas, last time I was in Europe I paid over $10/gallon.

On top of which dirty tech is often cheap due to externalities. Since you don't pay for the cancer the kids down the street from the coal plant get your light bulbs are very cheap for you and expensive for them.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about a year ago | (#43205817)

To be clear, when people say "Saving the earth", they mean "Make sure it supports human life".
To not interpret it as such means you are missing the whole point and concern people have about this issue.
I have heard plenty of people state that they dont care about the environment, which means that they will do nothing to change their habits. Habits that in effect, harm the environment enouth to cause its destruction.
It is ignorant to think that by simply living, we are not harming the environment.
And it is ignorant to think that somehow a "Capitalistic market will save the environment, and everyone from overfishing, increased emissions causing increased heat, which causes drought, asthma, respiratory issues, and cancer."
The fact is, if we rely on money as the driving factor to fixing our worlds declining ability to support human life, we will not be around much longer. As we all know, there is money in fishing and farming when supply is reduced and demand is increased, and there is money in the medical industry with dealing with these issues instead of fixing the cause.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about a year ago | (#43205819)

The idea of "saving the earth" is a good one, but on the other hand, the earth will be fine long after humans inhabit it.

Way to be totally human-centric. I know it's hard to believe, but there is other shit living on this planet besides humans.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (5, Informative)

Silentknyght (1042778) | about a year ago | (#43205823)

well instead of developing the green tech to compete we must artificially increase the cost of the dirty fuel! we cant use plain old light bulbs anymore, that use more power (and give off heat, thus meaning one could in theory keep their heater lower) and now we are stuck with CFLs that are worse for the environment than the old bulbs!

You should have stopped before this sentence.

Insofar as "cheap" "dirty" vs "expensive" "clean" environmentalism is concerned, the problem is that it is difficult to capture (i.e., within a product's price) the cost of all the externalities ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality [wikipedia.org] ). Therefore, we have "cheap" "dirty" fuels, which are actually more expensive than the clean fuels, but the costs of all of their negative externalities have not been included, and therefore only perceived as cheap by the average individual. For example, super-fine particulate matter (i.e., 2.5 microns in diameter), most commonly generated as a fuel combustion byproduct, is a serious contributor to adverse health effects and mortality rates; these health & life effects do translate into costs, though they aren't currently well-reflected in the prices of the products and/or energy choices you can select.

Therefore, we raise the cost of these "dirty" energy sources through artificial means in an attempt to better account for the non-artificial (but hard to encapsulate) externalities.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43205831)

Keep your heater lower?
Why in the hell would you want electric heat? That shit is expensive. I will stick with my LED lights and gas heater.

Corrupt Culture of Waste (4, Insightful)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about a year ago | (#43205925)

Well DUH! Earth hour IS symbolic. So what. In doing this, we are reminding ourselves that the world will not end if we reduce our energy consumption. We remind ourselves of how wasteful our energy use is. It encourages people to make long term adjustments to their energy consumption habits. When I see posts themed "fuck Earth Week", I am reminded of a 10 year old boy having a temper tantrum and holding his breath. That or a paid poster. The simple fact is that an economy cannot thrive long if it is based on a culture of waste. It is deeply irrational to think that waste is a positive practice. Waste of energy. Waste of financial resources. Waste of labor resources. Waste of physical resources. Wasting scarce resources makes us all poorer in the end.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205955)

"Dirty" in this context really means "externalized costs" - Meaning that the traditional forms of energy shirk the cost of damage caused by the pollution they create.
Forcing users and makers of dirty energy to pony up the costs that otherwise get absorbed by the public allows clean energy to compete more fairly.

The lightbulb analogy isn't perfect, by the way. That extra heat isn't always useful.

In the summer it can drive up cooling costs quite a bit. Not only are you paying for wasted energy, you're paying again to remove that heat with your AC system. Likely more than twice on top of that, as AC systems are not terribly efficient to begin with.
Incandescent bulbs used in households, at their very best, produce about 17 lumens per watt. Cree released new LEDs earlier this year that output 90 lumens per watt.

Even in the winter, you may be creating heat at a time that isn't optimal. It may be cheaper and more efficient to let a well programmed thermostat handle that task.
In my case, I have gas heating that is a lot cheaper than the cost of electric heating. I want my house's heat to come off the gas bill, not the electric.

If you have not, check out the new Phillips remote phosphor LED lights. (Remote phosphor puts the white glowing element away from the LED itself. It makes for cooler running, longer life LEDs and much more diffuse light output. - And yes, all white LEDs are a phosphor excited by a blue/UV LED) If you're skeptical, check out the soft white variety. They have a low color temp glow that's very warm and pleasant and completely indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs. The only problem I've had is that they are /too/ bright for many applications. Really, these things are amazing.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#43206015)

dont get me wrong, i use LEDs myself, but im fazing them in slowly, as older bulbs die, and the cost becomes reasonable. I still see some LED options at 50$ a bulb in lowes vs a 150 watt bulb for 96 cents. I cannot for the life of my justify the extra 49$ to do the same job. now there are other bulbs that are cheeper this is true, but if you have say 20-50 lights in your home, 50 bucks to do the entire house or 1000 to do the entire house? if im making the cash its one thing, i know many people who 1000 in a month makes them happy.

Re:The problem with most environmentalist ideas (1)

Ghostworks (991012) | about a year ago | (#43206023)

While I agree with your sentiments, there are a few ways to read your example on green energy which may be incorrect.

First, all things being equal, cheaper is better... for consumers, for the environment, for everyone. Lower price means less effect on materials resources (from the environment), labor (from people fed by the environment), and profits (which are subject to a money multiplier effect and are then poured into other projects which can have more effect on the environment).

The trouble is, "all things being equal" covers a lot of non-realistic assumptions. To first order, you have the fact that we are arguably under-paying now. Some means of production make use of resources that are not immediately obvious: a factory that produces pollution essentially "consumes" clean air and water, so that there is a delayed cost in the public either cleaning it or paying for increased healthcare. If you cap emissions, you still basically have a subsidy that the government is awarding from the public trust to those industries. This is were the notion of trading comes in: the public decides how much clean air it can afford to lose (or arsenic and mercury it can afford in a gallon of water), it puts that amount up for public auction (the same as we do for electromagnetic spectrum), and the industries can set whatever price is fair by competing with each other to buy that finite resource. (It's actually surprising that this application of free market capitalism, invented by an American economist, applied to the environmental problem most Americans claim to care about has had such a tough time in the American political environment.)

To second order, you get what Edward Tenner once called "the revenge effects of technology". One obvious example: things which are cheap and easy will be done more often because they are cheap and easy to do, eventually causing more time and money to be spent on them than otherwise would. Remember "cruising" when gas was cheap and there was nothing better to do? Or have you noticed that a lot larger percent of your time is spent on spreadsheets ever since software came along and made them "easier"? Similar principle. Applying price pressure can modify behavior in the other direction too. Part of the problem is that power production is inefficient, but a bigger part of the problem is that we just consume too much to begin with.

So the long and short of the above: charging "dirty" energy production isn't necessarily a crazy, horrible idea. If you believe we shouldn't be subsidizing private industry with public resources, and that we need to lower the overall level of consumption, it makes some sense. (Leaving the government to implementing such ideas leaves a lot of room for things to go horribly wrong, of course.)

The approach taken with green hour is similar to the "don't leave the water running when you brush your teeth" approach used in the 80s: convince people that a small change is not hard to make, that small changes multiplied out make a big difference, and that by getting used to these changes we can poise ourselves to make even _bigger_ changes later. It's not meant to accomplish anything in itself: it's a marketing plan for future action. And of course, like every marketing plan I've ever seen, it's overly optimistic, ignores the underlying reality of the situation, and builds up a lot of false expectations in "customers" who will probably never come back.

Wait, what? (5, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | about a year ago | (#43205417)

I thought Earth Hour was about reducing light pollution?

Re:Wait, what? (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year ago | (#43205449)

I thought Earth Hour was about reducing time pollution.

Re:Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

JeanCroix (99825) | about a year ago | (#43205645)

I thought Earth Hour was about reducing thought pollution. But that thought may have been one of the polluted ones.

Of course it serves a purpose (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#43205423)

It's environmentalism theater, just like we have security theater. If I turn out the lights for an hour I can say I've done "my part" to help the environment and raise awareness then go back to ignoring it the rest of the year.

Re:Of course it serves a purpose (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205501)

There's a German saying that translates to "the opposite of well done is well intended". Applies very nicely in this case.

Re:Of course it serves a purpose (2)

BlueLightning (442320) | about a year ago | (#43205813)

There's a German saying that translates to "the opposite of well done is well intended". Applies very nicely in this case.

Apt indeed. Similar to the English saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"...

Re:Of course it serves a purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205529)

And at the same time, I can display my 'earth hour candelabra' which consists of numerous halogen bulbs positioned to resemble the outline of a fist with a single finger uncurled and pointing skyward. (hint, it's not a 'thumb up')

It is purely symbolic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205431)

Duh.

Why First World Environmentalism Is a Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205435)

There FTFY

Blah blah energy independence. Blah blah think of the children.

Stockpile all the hydro-carbons. Sell back to the Chinese. Use profits to research new battery, transistor and lubricant tech.

Captcha: unclean (yeah no shit)

How did this moronic submission make it here? (5, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | about a year ago | (#43205439)

The point of Earth Hour is public awareness, to get people talking, thinking, discussing solutions. To experience one solitary hour without electricity exposes westerners to the daily hardship that billions around the world face due to lack of electricity. I'm here in Egypt, they currently have a 20% electricity generation deficit. This means that even though I may live in one of the best neighborhoods in Cairo, I experience low-shedding 1 hour every second day. My Earth Hour is every second day! So, can the hipster who doesn't have a clue who submitted this story, pull his head out of his self-important ass? You're either part of the problem, or part of the solution. Bitching about awareness of the inequality in the world as being a waste of time is being part of the problem.

Re:How did this moronic post make it here? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205527)

frankly, I dont give a crap about Eqypt. You guys had a revolution and then let bad people take over your country. you guys burn our flags and wish death upon our country. I know you are not one of those people who did this, but why didnt you help stop it??

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205657)

Bitching about awareness of the inequality in the world as being a waste of time is being part of the problem.

Only if raising awareness leads to somebody actually doing something about the problem. It is otherwise futile and a waste of time.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (4, Interesting)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year ago | (#43205685)

I experience low-shedding 1 hour every second day.

So you get electricity 47 hours out of 48? That too in a country that is chaotic and just underwent a revolution?

Then I in Pakistan can only envy you, we have load-shedding of 6 hrs minimum daily, often more for random reasons. And this is in spring, with no fans or other cooling equipment running... In summer it easily becomes ~14 hrs or more daily.

We just had our first democratically (for a certain value of democracy) elected govt to actually complete their term. So much for democracy...

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43205981)

We just had our first democratically (for a certain value of democracy) elected govt to actually complete their term. So much for democracy...

I have friends in Pakistan (Lahore). The problems you guys have got are going to take way more than one term of government. Look at the US, it took us nearly a century of democracy to officially end slavery, and well over a century later we still suffer plenty oif after-effects. Change comes slow. Simply making it to a second consecutive term of democracy is a pretty big acheivement, there are lots of countries that let their first democraticly elected government turn into just another despot. (Crossing fingers that doesn't happen in Egypt right now.)

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43205731)

It's not one hour without electricity (if you want that, go camping). It's one hour without non-essential lights. Oh, and it's not about awareness of people who lack reliable electricity, it's about awareness for climate change.

But the good news is, the rest of your rant is spot-on and is exactly why Earth Hour is garbage.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about a year ago | (#43205765)

Let's raise awareness for water pollution by all going out and crapping in the river.

Public awareness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205793)

"Public awareness" is a cop-out.... and I say this in general, not intended as an attack on the parent poster. The public has been hit over the head for decades about environmental issues. Recycling is a known concept, regardless of whether or not it is practiced. "Global Warming" is a familiar phrase, no matter which side of the issue one is on. Claiming that more "awareness" is needed is, in my opinion, hand-waving and indicates that the championing organization has no practical plans for implementation beyond distributing flyers and making feel-good commercials.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205861)

This means that even though I may live in one of the best neighborhoods in Cairo, I experience low-shedding 1 hour every second day. My Earth Hour is every second day!

Sounds like California to me.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (1)

Falc0n (618777) | about a year ago | (#43205881)

The point of Earth Hour is public awareness, to get people talking, thinking, discussing solutions.

But it doesn't even do that! At best, a few 'regular people' -might- think about the environment for a few days (or hours), akin to the hype around St. Patty's day this year. But come the day after, those people will forget all about it. And at worst, it just gives environmentalists more to be smug about, sniffing their own asses thinking they are making a difference, when in fact they aren't. We're on hydro-electric here. Our CO2 doesn't change a lick if we turn out our lights in the PNW.

No, Earth Hour is simply a fundraising opportunity for the WWF and other environmental organizations. Its mainly about money, and has little to do about making real change. Similar to politicians and political parties, environmental organizations need to look like they're fixing problems, otherwise they won't make money, or a living. I'd go as far as to say many environmental organizations are also anti-technology (nuclear, GMOs, etc), shooting themselves in the environmental foot they want to fix.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205973)

From what I've seen, egyptians generate heat and light by burning American flags.

Re:How did this moronic submission make it here? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year ago | (#43206007)

The point of Earth Hour is

...to make people feel good. Because if you make people *feel* like they're helping to solve the problem, it doesn't matter at all that they're actually making it worse! Once you understand this, many Green policies start to make considerably more sense.

Marketing fail? (5, Funny)

psydeshow (154300) | about a year ago | (#43205441)

If it was truly pointless and wasteful, as an American I'm pretty sure I would have heard of it before now.

There's already an expression for this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205453)

penny wise and pound cheap

Seems to be missing the point (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205485)

Yes, Earth Hour does nothing in itself; I thought this was something that pretty well understood and didn't require *another* article written about it. The point of Earth Hour, however, is to build awareness of living in -- and contributing to -- a changing climate. That said, the feel good factor itself might be detrimental as people will feel that they have done their duty for the year. But this is currently, as far as I am aware, unsubstantiated and probably warrants actual research.

Okay (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43205515)

So how about we listen to this post and just stop caring at all. If turning your lights off wont help then why even try, lets turn everything on full blast and leave it on.

Re:Okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205659)

Here's a radical idea: turn off lights when you don't need them. Crazy, huh?

Re:Okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43206017)

How about we listen to this post and spend time on things that would actually help the situation? Step 1: determine what would actually help the situation.

What this really is about: (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43205517)

Us feeling better, the environment doesn't actually better. But being able to say you did something for 1 hour out of almost 9 thousand in a year, somehow makes people feel like they're taking strides towards saving the environment... Or maybe it's the symbolism involved.

Need more women posting on Slashdot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205545)

This article and the one a couple below it remind me of those tedious debates in freshman dorms where everyone is trying to prove how smart they are by taking contrary positions.

Look, this wasn't my idea but evidently people want to show that they can act as a community and do something very, very small together, too small to make any difference in itself, but the idea is that at least we can all come together and focus on the problem for a moment. And so maybe we can eventually cooperate more effectively at some point. Isn't that totally obvious? Yes, but not for the sorts of people I mentioned above.

Re:Need more women posting on Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205715)

Boobies!

Seems contradictory (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#43205557)

a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"

So the drop in energy demand won't reduce the amount of electricity pumped into the grid, but after the hour is over, there will be enough extra demand to require new coal plants to be brought online even though they were still producing the same amount of power as before?

Sounds kind of like the logic my power company uses to explain high costs "The high demand for electricity means we need more money to build power plants and our increasing costs mean we need to charge more for electricity. The large number of home solar installations with net metering means that our expensive power plants are running under capacity, thus we need to charge more for electricity"

Re:Seems contradictory (2)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | about a year ago | (#43205691)

Let's run that in reverse. A small increase in energy usage, like my one, 100 watt, bulb, won't increase the amount of energy pumped into the grid, so I shouldn't have to pay for it. (It's only 100 watts)

Let's get everyone to do that! Free energy!! Perpetual Motion!!!

Re:Seems contradictory (4, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#43205847)

Yeah, I had to read that part twice because I had the same thought. What the writer seems to mean is that there won't in fact be drop in energy significant enough to step down power production and thereby save CO2. The "moreover" introduces a hypothetical possibility: i.e. even if power consumption decreased enough to step down power production, the energy wasted in stepping production down and up would outweigh the overall savings in consumption. This makes a sort of sense, but I saw no numbers in TFA to back it up, so I'll remain skeptical.

The fact that the author indulges in one non sequitur after another (why is he talking about the benefits of electricity? who's denying them? I thought the point was that our means of generating it has some drawbacks. Who's lighting candles?), often without offering evidence, leaves me even colder. The basic notion that shutting off electric lights for an hour is about making us feel good I can agree with. But I think this guy is just trolling. Maybe it makes him feel better about himself.

This complaint comes back every year. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205561)

And every year, I have to remind people that it's about the social awareness of pollution, not energy savings for 1 hour.

Are people still paying attention to this guy? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about a year ago | (#43205583)

First, I can't believe anyone takes Lomborg seriously anymore. His rantings are not based on science, and the only reason anyone noticed him in the first place was because he styled himself an "environmentalist", which he clearly isn't. Second, as other posters have pointed out, Earth Hour isn't meant to actually save any energy, it's to build public awareness. He's erected a strawman and is trying to knock it down without regard to what is real.

Re:Are people still paying attention to this guy? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43205867)

So are you saying his numbers are right? Because if they are, then you have your answer as to why people listen to him.

Secondly, are there really many topics that have less public awareness than saving the environment? I know I sure had it drilled into my brain since I was a kid with all kinds of training. I'm not sure you can do anything to raise more public awareness by this point.

Re:Are people still paying attention to this guy? (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | about a year ago | (#43205985)

Where did I say his numbers are right? I have no idea if they are right or not because I don't have time to go research it, and I didn't express an opinion either way (although given the source, I have my doubts). Even if his numbers in this narrow case are correct, I don't think they're relevant to the real intention behind Earth Hour.

And as to not doing anything more to raise public awareness, I think it's valuable to do so because people are subjected to a constant torrent of advertising telling them how wonderful it is to use all these gadgets and drive all these cars, plus propaganda from politicians and industry telling them that global warming is a hoax and pollution is good for you.

Disclaimer: I've never participated in Earth Hour and may never do so, but I encourage events that make people think about the costs of our energy-thirsty lifestyles.

Newsflash: Symbolic gesture is symbolic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205593)

... and a gesture.
Film at eleven.

Feel good meaningless junk (4, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#43205641)

Crap like this is feel good meaningless junk science that does absolutely nothing to solve anything. This is no better than saying were going to boycott the gas stations on Sunday (and fill up on Monday). People need to get real about the environment and as long as we've got crap like this and lunatics at places like greenpeace getting the headlines were going to continue shooting ourselves in the foot. We don't need the Haliburton's of the world do the damage when we keep deluding ourselves by pulling crap like this.

What idiot wrote this crap. (0)

eddy (18759) | about a year ago | (#43205651)

[...] it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.

Sure, because power plants usually shut down for an hour here and there due to lessened demand. What sort of retard wrote this crap?

Re:What idiot wrote this crap. (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43205801)

That's a lot of built up dark they have to dispel after the hour is over, and that takes energy. Who the hell need physics when we can make unfounded guesses?

There's a much bigger problem with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205681)

The grid is not well-equipped to handle rapid transients in load. You can't change the heat output of a coal or nuclear-fired furnace instantly, and if you try, bad things happen.

If everyone on the grid suddenly opened their breakers at the same time, the resulting backlash would probably cause thousands of steam turbines to overspin and their emergency pressure valves to open, at which point the turbine has to spin down and resynchronize before it can begin producing power again. I guess that would be okay since there is no load, but it would take a long time to get things back in order.

A steam turbine generation system cannot respond instantly to enormous changes in load over a short time interval.

The Real Benefit (5, Insightful)

mellow106 (669136) | about a year ago | (#43205689)

Forget CO2 levels. This is a helpful excuse to rendezvous with your lady/fellow and figure out *some* way to amuse yourselves for an hour in the dark. "Hey, it's for the good of the planet. Or whatever."

Moving Backwards (1)

DTyndorf (2847667) | about a year ago | (#43205719)

As a kid, I remember scenes of people cheering and celebrating as the lights of a newly completed skyscraper were turned ON for the first time. Nowadays (thanks to a couple generations of brain-washed kids unable to shake off their mindless conformism) people cheer when we turn these lights OFF.

Re:Moving Backwards (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43205987)

I remember when we turned those skyscraper lights into pixels and played Tetris.

I'm doing the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205759)

I'm driving my car to the gas station, filling a one gallon container, and then spreading it out to let it all evaporate, undoing the work of billions of dollars of emissions controls.

pedantry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205781)

There are 365.242 days in a year, so - 8765.81 hours. Not 8760

Translation (0)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#43205783)

Oh woe is meeeeeee! If you're not goint to slit your wrists and pour your life into the ground to feed a tree, you are just SUCH a poseur!

My life sux so much, my parents are SO unfair.

How I observe Earth Hour (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205795)

I gas up my car and drive it around. It's not warm enough here to actually need the air conditioning, but I turn it on anyway as a symbolic statement.

Re:How I observe Earth Hour (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43205965)

It's still near freezing point where I live, but I think I'll follow your lead and start my air conditioning system as a symbolic statement too.

And then I'll crank up the heat to compensate.

I'd turn off my heating... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205809)

But I live in Canada, and I'm not sure whether my water pipes would freeze. :-)

Reality: they'd be fine for an hour, but A) all that means is that the power consumption would go up the next hour to get the temperature back to normal, and B) I wouldn't want to have the heating off overnight. Some days in winter we have lost power for half a day due to heavy storms. It's dicey. Air conditioning is optional. Heating is not. Not if you have plumbing in your house and live in most parts of Canada.

Did anyone *ever* think turning off the lights for one hour would make any significant difference? I never have. But it did make me think about what in the house really needed to be turned on regularly, and if there were things I could leave off rather than keeping them running. Earth Hour is meant as a reminder, not some challenging event that makes a huge difference by itself. In my house there are minimal lights on at night anyway. We're pretty diligent about that.

Worse than that! (2, Informative)

DarthVain (724186) | about a year ago | (#43205829)

Even if you did shut off things of significance, it would not make a big difference.

Anyone that understands how the power grid is run and electricity distributed, and power generation is applied could tell you that.

1) The grid itself needs a certain amount of electrification simply to remain stable and on.
2) Because power use is not constant, and various types of generation mix is different, you will have to maintain a baseline of power anyway. That nuclear plant that generates 4GW doesn't just turn off because the need no longer exists. It generates 4GW all day/night all the time regardless. One of the benefits of nuclear.

It would prevent say the usage of say quick spin up generation such as gas or coal to meet specific needs during peek generation. Or the use of potential storage like hydro during peek hours. But again, turning off the lights won't make much difference there either. If everyone turned off the AC during a heatwave, during peek usage, yeah that might make a small difference.

Anyway as pointed out, it is simply a PR campaign and an awareness thing. Anyone who believes they are actually doing something significant should be looked at with an arched eyebrow.

Environmentalists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205859)

This is why I'm not a fan of most environmentalists. I'm all for saving the environment, but taking measures to make an ideological point without understanding the underlying structure of how the energy infrastructure works is simply pointless. There are ways to reduce emissions, but most environmentalists have no idea wat those are and cause more problems than they solve.

Participated already!! (5, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#43205895)

My area was hit by Hurricane Sandy in November and my electricity was out for a week! I think I've given my hour for quite a few years!

Re:Participated already!! (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43205935)

You're good until 2181, buddy.

A candle is worse than a 60W light bulb... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205929)

I looked into it a few years ago after staying at an "earth friendly" surf resort that didn't have elctrical power in Nicaragua. They gave everyone two candles a night and insisted it was eco-friendly.

The amount of soot, CO^2 and other bad stuff from a single candle is worse for the environment, not to mention your health, than running a 60W light bulb off electricity generated at a coal power plant in the USA. In all likelyhood a coal plant in Nicaragua is worse than the USA but I thought it was interesting...

Symbolism over substance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205937)

To the current generation of the "educated and enlightened", symbolism is what it's all about. It is the perception of doing something for a politically correct cause that is regarded as a "moral act".

--
Watch this get down-modded because this post contains the 'M' word "MORAL".

That can't be true! That's IMPOSSIBLE! (1)

MrLizard (95131) | about a year ago | (#43205945)

A popular "green" ritual is just an act of empty symbolism designed to make people feel morally superior while actually doing nothing and causing no real inconvenience? No! I refuse to accept that!

This is wrong, free energy in the grid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43205997)

Did anyone think that a grid that is so inefficient that less usage doesn't equal less energy raise eyebrows? Why are they charging us when we use more?

Stupid question (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43206005)

If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759?

The stupidity of the question aside, why are you implying that we all have our lights on 365/24/7?

99% of everything is crap (0)

Mike (1172) | about a year ago | (#43206009)

Just about all modern whacko environmentalism can be accurately summed up as vain symbolism -- at best.

I know I risk losing karma to post this, because there will always be the lilly-livered who downgrade posts they disagree with. So be it. Real karma will get them back. ;)

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