Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour is Today: N. Korea is the Likely Winner

"Earth Hour" will take place today (March 31) at 8:30 p.m.  According to the WWF (watch video above), the mission of Earth Hour is to "Dare the World to Save the Planet":

"We only have one planet.  You can help protect it. Participate in the world’s largest single campaign for the planet: Earth Hour. It starts by turning off your lights for an hour at 8:30 pm on March 31, 2012 in a collective display of commitment to a better future for the planet.  Think what can be achieved when we all come together for a common cause."

Here's a dissenting opinion on Earth Hour from Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, who abhors Earth Hour.

"Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labor and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water.

Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations. No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of."

Thanks to Joe Lais for the pointer to WUWT, which features the photo below with the caption:

 The winner for Earth Hour every year since 2003 - North Korea. Odds favor them to be the winner again this year.


At 3/31/2012 9:58 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

It's a lazy and romantic view.

I think, that's why people like Richard Simmons exist:

To go in there, blow the whistle, and motivate these people to get to work :)

At 3/31/2012 10:05 AM, Blogger Storm'n Norm'n said...

Anything sponsored by the UN is a scam...Earth Hour is a stupid scam.

At 3/31/2012 10:06 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

is it mere coincidence that earth hour happens just before april fool's day, or is there actually some grand joke going on here.

i could at lest get behind an epic april fools joke.

At 3/31/2012 10:19 AM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

I'm going to turn on every light in my home tonight at 8:30 pm.

At 3/31/2012 10:45 AM, Blogger Tom said...

A great essay by Dr. McKitrick. Julian Simon lives.

At 3/31/2012 12:46 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/31/2012 1:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/31/2012 1:30 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

That piece by McKitrick is a classic. It's good to get a reset once a year lest we lose sight of reality amidst the constant barrage of nonsense.

Incidently aren't all those candles, one of the worst possible environmental offenders, a poor choice of replacements for electric lights?

At least my coal powered lights result from relatively clean, controlled combustion.

Perhaps cooking on a fire of dung and sticks during Earth Hour would be another good way of conveying a message of respect for the Earth.

At 3/31/2012 1:39 PM, Blogger juandos said...

BTW what's the 'carbon footprint' of all those clowns holding candles?

At 3/31/2012 3:59 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "BTW what's the 'carbon footprint' of all those clowns holding candles?"

Much higher than my electric lights, not to mention the health hazards from breathing all that smoke.

At 3/31/2012 4:46 PM, Blogger JG said...

Save the Earth: Grow the economy. Faster.

Because the richer we become, the less of the physical world we consume.

At 4/01/2012 2:30 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Thanks for that link jg, its looks quite interesting...

Yeah ron h that would be an interesting graph to compare light in lumens vs power consumed vs CO2 output...

I would guesstimate that your lighting would be more efficient by orders of magnitude...

At 4/04/2012 11:26 AM, Blogger Econ@IU2014 said...

You guys are so narrowly focused on the here-and-now, you can't even take 15 seconds to think that maybe cheap electricity damages the environment, which is the basis of our economic system. With a corrupted environment, how can you produce agriculture, and moreover sustain society? Does having $50 more in your pocket at the end of the month warrant the fact we are now destroying whole mountains to obtain dirty coal and oil, put it through an expensive refining process, rely on heavy artificial subsidation to keep the price low? The time of fossil fuels is over; would America be great if we didn't continue to evlolve and grow? It is clear that oil will run out, so why not make the leap now? Please respond, I'm interested in your ideas.


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