Pulling the plug on Earth Hour

Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy
Photo illustration by Joel McCarthy

What’s the point?

By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer

Earth Hour, like so many great ideas, is wonderful in theory. In practice, it’s about as effective as trying to get through a bowl of soup with a fork; sure, you’re doing something, but you’re definitely not getting anywhere with it. The event supposedly takes place each year to promote awareness about climate change, but the stats on the energy saved during the hour of no power always seem to be the headline-grabber that they push—and the stats really aren’t impressive.

In this year’s Earth Hour, British Columbia saved 136 megawatt hours of electricity, which is the equivalent of turning off over 10 million 12.5-watt LED light bulbs… which means the provincial electricity load was reduced by a whopping 1.95 per cent. If that figure comes off as extremely underwhelming to you, don’t worry. It is.

It’s not that I’m against saving the world or anything; I’m as much a supporter as the next guy when it comes to finding sustainable energy and keeping an eye on global warming and all that jazz. I am, however, preaching logical thinking. If one of the main reasons Earth Hour exists is to discover and use new or existing forms of viable long-term energy sources, then why are we—especially in British Columbia—turning off our lights? Most of our power is generated through hydroelectric facilities, which is one of the most environmentally-friendly and cheapest methods available. An hour without the lights on is a pointless act. If everybody left their car in the garage and just used public transit for an hour, that would, however minutely, actually say something.

The mission of Earth Hour is admirable, but next time you’re about to embark on your quest to become an overzealous environmentalist for an hour, think about it first.