These days there are hundeds of campaigns, schemes and groups aiming to ‘save the planet’, all of then well-meaning but of varying effectiveness. I don’t actually like the term ‘save the planet’, as I tend to take things literally and in my view, the planet will be around for a long time… I prefer to think of these ideas as ‘keep the planet habitable for humans and other life-forms’ but that’s much less catchy….
One such scheme is Earth Hour, which this year takes place on Saturday 28th March at 8.30pm. The idea is that for one hour, around the globe, all participating individuals, businesses, local authorities etc switch off their lights, computers and other electrical appliances for one hour. All well and good… it’s not asking anything too difficult or complicated, it saves energy, gives people a sense of participation, and yes, this has made it one of the most popular campaigns around.
This year it is being labelled as ‘Vote Earth’ and the website claims that 930 cities and towns in 80 countries are participating; the aim is to involve a billion people. It started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, with about 2.2 million homes switching off their lights, and last year an estimated 50 million people joined in. So, during that hour, a lot of energy was not used which would have been if things had gone on as normal.
The popularity of this event is evident when doing a search on Facebook for ‘Earth Hour’… I counted up to 300 groups dedicated to it before I gave up. Some were for individual towns and cities, some for states or countries, some for supporters and fans. However, this search also showed a handful of groups with names like ‘Anti Earth Hour’, ‘Earth Hour Sucks’, ‘People against Earth Hour’, ‘Earth Hour was Useless’, and ‘F*ck Earth Hour’. These groups fall into two broad categories, the so-called ‘climate deniers’ who think that the broad scientific consensus that man-made gas emissions are altering the planet’s atmosphere is wrong, and that any observable warming is part of some ‘natural cycle’, and those who feel that just switching off your lights for one hour per year is a complete waste of time when what we actually need to do is to cut our total emissions by 80%. This view is promoted by the various Facebook groups such as ‘Earth Hour Every Month’ and the more radical ‘Earth Hour Every Week’. Maybe I should start a Facebook Group called ‘Earth Hour Every Hour’?
Unfortunately, I will be unable to ‘attend’ Earth Hour this year as I have a ticket to go and see the Ukuele Orchestra, and my guess is that they’ll need amplification which is of course, based on electric power. I’ll stick to my Earth Hour Every Hour concept, I think!
One of the motivations behind Earth Hour can be seen with the following statistics, which show what an unequal world it is, and by inference, how climate change will affect different groups in different ways. Basically, the poor stand to lose most. I think that this list is very revealing and thought-provoking.
If the World Were a Village
What if we imagined the whole population of the
- 61 Asians (21 from China and 17 from India)
- 13 Africans
- 12 Europeans
- 8 from S America, Central America & Caribbean
- 5 from Canada and the USA
- 1 Oceanian
- 52 females; 48 males
- 70 non-whites; 30 whites
- 32 Christians
- 20 Muslims
- 13 Hindus
- 89 heterosexuals; 11 homsexuals
- 50 people live on $2 per day and 25 live on $1 per day
- 15 people produce more than half of the CO2 emissions
- 25 people consume more than 75% of the energy
- 18 people do not have access to nearby clean water
- 40 have no access to adequate sanitation, ie. sewage disposal
- 80 people live in poor quality housing
- 32 breathe unhealthy polluted air
- 50 people suffer from malnutrition
- 17 people are illiterate
- 20 inhabitants control 86% of the GNP and 74% of the telphone lines
- 20 people have 87% of the vehicles and 84% of the paper in use
- 24 people do not have electricity
- 9 people have access to the internet
- only 1 person has a college/university education
- 1 person dies and 3 children are born into the world-village each year
- the population of the village would be 133 by 2025
If the World Were a Village by David J. Smith (see companion website)
United Nations and World Bank Statistics