Sunday, March 29, 2009

Couldn't Be Bothered Hour



via Flickr

Another Earth Hour, another year Torontonian's ask "How little can I do?" I'm starting to think Earth Hour should be renamed "The Least I Can Do Hour", or "I Couldn't Be Bothered Hour". To be fair, this year Torontonians almost doubled their participation. Last year there was a 8 per cent dip in power demand while this year Toronto showed a 15 per cent drop in power use. Province wide the drop was 6 per cent. The significance probably shows people did more than just turn off their lights (as lighting only accounts for only 5 per cent of energy use). I think it's fair on Earth Hour to just turn off any unnecessary appliance. Lights, television, computers etc.

Yesterday, as two well-earning childless professionals, we dried our laundry out side instead of using the dryer, turned off the timers for any exterior lights and at the prescribed hour we turned off all of our lights and went out for a walk to experience a darkened city.

Unfortunately in our neighbourhood, known as an environmentally considerate area (check previous polls for votes for the Green Party), hardly any lights were out. In fact, some idiots still had their Christmas lights out and on! (For the love of God, Robbie Burns has been feted, St. Valentine remembered, Family Day observed and pancakes consumed for Shrove Tuesday - LET IT GO! TAKE DOWN THOSE LIGHTS!). I suppose I don't really want to knock businesses that would find it difficult to turn off lights but what pisses me off is people at home kept their lights burning and televisions glowing.

Critics of Earth Hour claim that a few percentage points of electrical savings over a single hour is pointless and merely a symbol. Well morons, that's exactly the point! It is SYMBOLIC. Symbols are hardly pointless. Unless you think crucifixes, crescents and maple leaves are unimportant. There's my complaint. Turning off your lights for an hour is such a small and easy thing to do that not doing it, is simply absurd. You couldn't even get up from the couch to flip a switch? No one's asking you to run a marathon, give a $100, or anything. Why not even try it?

We would've been better off sabotaging the Dufferin transformer station at 8:29. We probably saved a lot more electricity for the 24 hours the power went out in January. The night of that blackout, I had difficulty walking home because it was as black as new asphalt. Notably, after the power outage in 2003 that knocked out the Eastern seaboard, North America had a net drop in pollution for the year because there was no power for those three days in August (making you wonder if every industry shut down for a week in August and we all just went to the beach, would there be a similar effect?)

When you lose power for a few hours it makes you think what a post-electrical society would be like. Imagine electricity being so expensive that you could only use it for only the most necessary of services. Solar powered laptops would be the norm. As would wood stoves. Television, microwave ovens, washers and dryers would have to be given up. We might switch from electric light to kerosene lanterns, or listen to only wind-up radios. It could be done, just like the way our grand parents (or as in my case, my parents) were raised. The house I live in pre-dates electric light and heat, and one would assume, indoor plumbing. If they could do it, I don't see why I couldn't.

Except of course, most of my neighbours (immediate neighbours exempted) cannot be bothered to turn off a light or even bother not turning one on in the first place. That's why we're at a crisis in history. If you can't be bothered to make a gesture, how are you going to change your planet?

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