Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Light Bulb Stays On

The fourth annual Earth Hour is upon us. As I write this, several cities in the eastern hemisphere have already killed their lights for sixty minutes. My turn, here in southern Ontario, will come in about 9½ hours from the time of this writing. Except that my lights will not be going out.

What??? Heresy! Has the Halmanator no social conscience? He must be a climate change denier. Let the shunning begin! Out, demon! Out we say!

I am not a climate change denier. I believe that global warming is a real and immediate threat to humanity's future and I further believe that it's directly attributable to human activity on this planet. So why do I refuse to turn off my lights for an hour?

Because I see it as a meaningless gesture, that's why. Don't get me wrong. I understand the symbology behind the Earth Hour. I get the point. However, I don't see it accomplishing much, beyond making a point. Worse, the whole thing gradually seems to be taking on the characteristics of a social fad. We turn our lights out for an hour, we pat ourselves on our collective backs and then we go right back to our regular lifestyles, leaving lights on in empty rooms, leaving television sets on for no particular reason, driving our cars on short trips and errands for which we could walk or bicycle and idling their engines in long drive-through queues.

Want to help curb global warming? Leave your lights on today, but swap out all the regular incandescent light bulbs in your home for those curly-cue energy saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Have your furnace cleaned and serviced if it's been a while. At the very least, clean or change the filter. Lower your thermostat overnight or during the days if nobody's at home. Wash as much laundry as possible in cold water, and do full loads rather than partial ones. The same goes for your dishwasher loads. Heck, do the dishes by hand! You'll ultimately be doing the planet a whole lot more good by doing these things than you will by sitting in the dark for an hour.

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