Cometh the hour
I wasn’t sure whether to post on this topic. There’s so much to it, and so much scope for overly pious, and for ranting on about things I don’t fully understand, I thought I might just let it pass.
Then I saw this.
(I decided to leave it unaccredited, but I’m going to DM a link to this post to the tweeter in question, and if he cares to comment he’ll be free to do so.)
I’m sure it’s just one of a multitude tweets condemning Earth Hour as an ineffectual gesture by a vocal minority of self-congratulatory do-gooders, many of whom are among the worst offenders in the whole CO2 stakes.
I certainly don’t mean to single the author of this one out, but unfortunately he’s the guy who turned up in my Twitter stream and riled me to the point of putting pen to paper.
(It didn’t help that he followed this up by complaining that “hollow gestures by the mavens confuse the masses. I think the whole thing is damaging.” Confuse the masses? Who the hell are you? Pontius Fucking Pilate?)
THE MASSES AREN’T STUPID
I suspect, though I may be wrong, that the good people of Edmonton (and the surrounding area) – the kind of people who spend a Saturday afternoon trawling around IKEA in search of cheap electrical appliances they don’t really need – probably fall pretty precisely under many people’s definition of ‘the masses’.
Well, while the masses were out shopping this afternoon they who would have done pretty well to avoid the announcement coming across the tannoy at thirty minute intervals to the effect that IKEA would be observing Earth Hour, and that so should they.
There wasn’t anything especially confusing about the message, at least not for those among us with ears and a brain, who numbered very much in the majority. ‘Show your commitment to fighting climate change. Turn off your lights for an hour this evening.’ It’s not rocket science.
And yes, sadly, that’s probably as much as most of us have ever done. Do we really believe that this will even scratch the surface of the issue, in terms of pure energy-saving? Of course not.
It is a symbolic act, by which we show our recognition of the fact that man-made climate change is a reality, with the potential to unite our species, and the power to decimate it.
It gives us an opportunity to sit for an hour, by candle-light, reflecting on the things we otherwise take for granted, pondering a world in which they were not so abundant, and wishing we’d had the presence of mind to sneak the bloody kettle on before the clock struck half eight.
THE TWITTERING CLASSES
More than once today I’ve encountered the insinuation that Earth Hour is the exclusive domain of some web-literate elite who are simply paying lip service to the issue, whilst continuing to be amongst the worst offenders on CO2 usage, making profligate use of technology in order to share the many tedious details of our largely unremarkable lives.
This, if you’ll forgive my bluntness, is fucking ignorant. Here we have a global communication network, off the back of which the infinite seeds of one simple idea can be borne to all four corners of the world in minutes, seconds even. We have a mouthpiece for the grass-roots, a medium for the groundswell, powered by observation and opinion every bit as much as electricity.
With so many people seeming to revert instaneously from denial to resignation, we have to engender a climate in which the naysayers are the exception, rather than the rule.
In short, we have to turn this ship around. And, realising that this is beyond the capabilities of our political leadership, we have to do it for ourselves.
In the Internet, we have the potential for a new kind of leadership, articulated as an idea. Earth Hour is just that – an idea. In giving it our support, we’re not aligning ourselves with left or right, or pledging our allegiance to a wider political platform. We don’t have to wear the badge, or download the fact pack.
All we have to do is switch off some lights, and light a few candles. And, in doing so, take the time to think about what else we’re ready to do, to try and make a difference.
That moment of introspection, of self-recrimination, and whatever greater environmental conscientiousness it precipitates, that’s the essence of Earth Hour. Whether we experience it as individuals, or realise it amongst ourselves, or embrace it as a species, it has value.
And if some of us continue to take the easy option, to opt out, to say “little old me, what difference can I make.” Well, if that’s how you feel, so alone in the world, so isolated and insoluble, perhaps you’re right. Little old you.