This Saturday night, millions of people around the world will be shutting off their lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to participate in Earth Hour, supposedly spreading the message about reducing human impact on the environment. Before you shut off your lights, consider the message you are sending. By flipping that switch, you endorse the movement for man to withdraw, to stop changing the environment, and to exist in a primitive, “natural” state. Instead, participate in “Edison Hour” by turning on your lights during this hour in celebration of human progress and achievement.
Before you condemn the idea for being wasteful, think about what you mean by “waste.” Something that is “wasted” is used without an adequate return. We are using our energy in celebration of the wonders of technology and an industrial society. While too many people are sitting in the darkness, perhaps trying to read by light from their (mass-produced) candles, we will be enjoying the freedom and safety provided by the efforts of man.
While the goal of efficiency is an admirable one, the sacrifice of humanity suggested by Earth Hour is not a solution. Efficiency and the movement toward sustainability should focus on using fewer resources and less energy for the same processes, not forcing us to give up the things that we value.
Are you willing to surrender your laptop, your heated house, your electric lights and everything else you use daily just to reduce your carbon footprint? Will you return to a hunter-gatherer existence just to stop the human modification of the environment? As much as I would like to stop burning fossil fuels since the by-products are bad for my body, I value my modern conveniences enough that I am willing to take that risk. If you are not willing to do the same, you are welcome to leave industrial society.
If you have a real commitment to efficient development, consider purchasing “greener” products and services. Yes, you will probably pay more. Yes, your product may be inferior in quality to the less “eco-friendly” version. But spending your money is a personal choice and an investment. It will provide funds and demonstrate a consumer demand for efficiency so that newer, better products will be developed.
As for me: when these “green” products stop asking me to sacrifice, I will happily switch, but not before. For now, I plan to turn on my lights and celebrate the current state of our beautifully industrialized, pollution-creating society during Edison Hour, and I hope you do the same.