Is lights off campaign a turn-off?

March 27, 2008

A workman holds onto a 32 metre balloon in the shape of a light bulb on Sydney Harbour to promote the Earth Hour event March 19, 2008. Earth Hour is to be held at 8pm on March 29 where the public and business worldwide are encouraged to switch off their lights to join the fight against climate change. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas (AUSTRALIA)Millions of people around the world are set to turn off lights and electrical appliances at 8 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 29, to highlight the problem of global warming.

Landmarks from the Sydney Opera House to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco  plan to turn off their lights for the event, pioneered by Australia last year.

Organisers of “Earth Hour” say the idea is to make people aware of the links between global warming and electricity, which is usually generated by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil which emit greenhouse gases. They say 24 large cities around the world are taking part.  Last year 2.2 million Sydney residents switched off the lights.

I suppose that if you were in space and it went to plan, you might see successive bands of the earth dim slightly on the stoke of 8 p.m. — a bit like a slow Mexican wave in a soccer stadium.Waves come ashore along Baker Beach with the Golden Gate Bridge in background in San Francisco, California May 27, 2007. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 27, 1937 and 200,000 people crossed it on its first day. It had taken four years, four months and 22 days to complete. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES)

Then again the dimming will probably be hard to spot: street lamps and other lights needed to discourage a one-hour bonanza for burglars or muggers will stay on.

Is this is a great idea or just a gimmick?

Have past initiatives to raise public awareness of the way individuals can help fight climate change, such as the Live Earth concerts organised by former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore in July last year, had a lasting effect?

Will you be turning off your lights?


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I’m going to turn all my lights on in protest… Sorry to say to you earth loving liberal hippies, we have very little to no effect on the earth’s climate. We have no way to prevent the next ice age much less prevent the current warming conditions….

Posted by power hungry | Report as abusive

Hear, hear! My lights will be on, too. CO2 does not drive temperature changes. Human contribution to global warming is insignificant. And we should be happy it gets warmer. Icing is just for cakes.

Posted by maggie | Report as abusive

Good Grief! Do-good liberals doing their feel-good thing again. What a bunch of nonsense!

Posted by Donald | Report as abusive

Are you really so naive that you think we don’t have an impact on this earth? Will this lights out campaign work? Who knows. But to deny our responsibility for the environment and the very real consquences of our actions is naive and disheartening.

Posted by Concerned | Report as abusive

Not a chance. This is a useless exercise in “feelgood” activism…about as useful as a bumper sticker that says “Honk if you hate global warming!”

Posted by perdition | Report as abusive

I will not be turning off lights that I need, but I will not be turning on ALL the lights either. Sensible use of electricity and energy conserving habits should be part of everyday life, not just once a year.
Consider (1) the emissions if all who turn off their lights use candles to continue doing what their doing in the hour, and (2) the surge to the local power stations when after the hour.

Posted by environmental engineer | Report as abusive

This is just like anytime someone presents themself as a vegetarian — I’ll eat an extra serving of meat for that person. So now, I’ll make sure every light in my house is on, as well as every appliance possible. No real reason to do so, but there’s no real reason not to…

Posted by Corey | Report as abusive

I feel like the purpose of this movement is being tainted. The reason for turning off all your lights isn’t to directly combat climate change, even if this is a side affect it isn’t the bottom line objective. The importance of events like these is apparent when you read the comments above. People need to start discussing these arising issues; mostly to get environmental activists as well as global warming non-believers out of the closet.

Posted by bill | Report as abusive

I plan on filing a class-action lawsuit against the organizers of Earth Hour on behalf of all people who have an accident during this period, regardless of whether the accident has anything to do with darkness, vision, or inherent stupidity. By knowingly orchestrating a period of lower visual accuity, they have created a dangerous, possibly deadly, circumstance.

Posted by neal5x5 | Report as abusive

Did someone say taint?

Posted by JamesFlorentine | Report as abusive

My my, what a bunch of cranky uptight responses so far! I’m looking forward to turning off all the electricity tonight. A small, symbolic reminder that we’re too dependent on it. And it will be fun! You people need to relax a little. Have you tried meditation? :-)

Posted by Bruno | Report as abusive

I’ll be turning on every light in the house to protest the quasi-religion of global warming and high-light the need of legitimate scientific inquiry.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

How many baby’s will be made during that one hour ?.

Posted by trudy | Report as abusive

cranky indeed! I think this is extremely important. We can do so much to help stop global warming by cutting our own energy use at home. But many wonder how turning off a light or appliance at home can really help stop such a huge problem. By getting millions to take action at once, Earth Hour can span that disconnect – and show just how much all these little actions can actually produce a large result.

Posted by shindig | Report as abusive

Lighten up! I am not a liberal hippie, but I will be turning off my lights. It reminds me that we all need to use the earth’s resources responsibly – and it will be fun! There is much too much war and hatred going on in the world. Tonight we get to have a little bit of global fun – how can that be bad?

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

It’s amazing the amount of cynicism some people can have. Of course Earth Hour won’t solve anything. It’s a gesture, not a solution. No one said it was going to solve global warming.

Posted by Jack | Report as abusive

to those who think we human don’t have significant effect on earth…do you ever heard the word POLLUTION? i wonder if you know it is cause by human…geez…you guys are too selfish…

Posted by danielle | Report as abusive

Readers are invited to check their ecological footprint at

Posted by Ajith | Report as abusive

Of course this global warming is human caused. The currently understood forcing level is around Fe (2W/m2) which is more than 2 watts per meter squared higher than it should be if the climate system were to be following the natural cycle as understood.

Those that don’t understand this, either have not examined the relevant science or are choosing to listen to unsubstantiated opinion rather than relevant science in context of models and observations. The models were merely models until the evidence corroborated them. Now, they are strongly corroborated, there is no remaining argument of substance to show that this global warming is anything but human caused.

As to the exercise of turning off lights, it is an awareness tool and certainly has had some impact, otherwise it would not be a topic of discussion.

Posted by John P. Reisman (The Centrist Party) | Report as abusive

Yes, it’s an awareness tool, a PR conciousness raising vehicle, just like the “polar cities” project. My, there certainly are alot of cynical posters above. HOW ON EARTH did it come to this? We should be working together, politely, not throwing invectives this way and that. Ouch!

Remember the painting called The Scream by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch? Here is an update, also a PR took for raising awarness.

Posted by Danny Bloom | Report as abusive

Hell no! I will NOT turn off my lights. I will turn every light in my house ON. Also, the front porch and the back porch.

Posted by Rosemarie Moore | Report as abusive