The status of Earth Hour as one of the premier feel-good (but utterly pointless) environmental events really took a hit this year. Usually there’s so much coverage in the media and on social media sites the week before it happens that I plan on being home that night in order to make sure every light in the house is on during Earth Hour. This year there was such a dearth of pre-publicity that I didn’t realize Earth Hour occurred until today—one day after the event was celebrated.
Browsing through the news coverage of the event, however, I had to shake my head at the contradiction of so many people turning off lights for an hour in order to increase awareness of global warming but then lighting candles instead. As environmental scientists Bjorn Lomborg explains:
[Candles seem] natural and environmentally friendly, but unfortunately candles are almost 100 times less efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and more than 300 times less efficient than fluorescent lights. Using one candle for each extinguished bulb cancels the CO2 reduction; two candles emit more CO2.
My favorite series of photos of Earth Hour photographs was found on the UK’s World Wildlife Fund’s website where just about every photo shows someone holding a lighted candle. According to news reports reports, one German Earth Hour display contained around 5,000 lighted candles in the shape of Earth.
I wonder how long it will take for the irony to kill them.