The terrible, wrongheaded optics of “Earth Hour”

Is equating combating climate change with sitting in the dark the stupidest way to package your message to a public nervous about energy costs? Not sure? Then why don’t you have non-partisan, salt of the earth types like: Janeane Garofalo, Edward Norton, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Alanis Morissette, and will.i.am let the public see just how tuned in your messaging is to the “average Joe’s” concerns during this global financial crisis?

[UPDATE: A new Gallup survey of US adults shows concerns over the economy trumping concerns over the environment for the first time in 25 years. Additionally it shows “the highest percentage [of respondents] choosing energy and the lowest percentage choosing the environment in the nine years of asking the question.” H/t Great Beyond]

Young people, the kind of people who get wrapped up in these kind of demonstrations and are persuaded by celebrities, already are convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change.

We don’t have to sit in the dark to effect meaningful emissions reductions. This plays into the absolute worst possible stereotypes and will convince who, exactly?

6 responses to “The terrible, wrongheaded optics of “Earth Hour”

  1. > sitting in the dark

    I think that’s bogus. The idea is for participants to “turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour.”

    That’s not leaving anyone “in the dark.”
    The exact same lie was raised, falsely, immediately, when the early science came out about light at night and leukemia risk for kids.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=nightlight+leukemia

    ‘ACSH’ (one of the big corporate PR sites) claimed the scientists were “recommending that parents ensure total darkness as their children sleep” — that’s an utterly bogus claim, no source.

    The researchers warned against nighttime bright light with the blue wavelength that suppresses daytime melatonin, so we don’t begin to get sleepy until a few hours after after the sun sets.

    The warning’s gotten stronger. But it’s fascinating how fast the PR engine started up as soon as the industry noticed the science describing the problem. That was 5 years ago.

    Any time you hear someone claiming the scientists are trying to keep you in the dark, point out that appropriate lighting is not darkness, it’s better use and better seeing.

    Non-essential lighting is a huge component of night time light. Turning off bright excess lights leads people to awareness of how well we can see if we don’t have glare.

    If you’re somewhere you can look up and see the stars, and your area dims its excess lights, do go look at the sky.

    If you’re under the track of the ISS or the Shuttle, http://www.n2yo.com/passes/?s=25544
    watch for them as well.

    See also: http://www.google.com/search?q=dark+sky+association

    There’s probably a branch in your area.

  2. PS — direct refutation of the scary nonsense from those trying to confuse people.

    Reduced night light makes you safer because removing glare lets everyone see better.

    Many sources here: http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=58823#Safety%20&%20Security

    This is NOT about blackouts and rioting.

  3. Hank, I’m not criticizing the reality (although there are criticisms to be made in terms of energy “savings”), I’m talking about how this will be spun. Nothing more.

    We’re talking about cultural, perhaps even instinctual, associations with darkness, not rational arguments.

  4. Yep, just saying, ‘in the dark’ is the typical, longstanding industry PR response to any and every reason for reducing glare; “darkness” is spin.

  5. Pingback: Reflections: Earth Hour « Left as an Exercise

  6. Pingback: Hey, look! It’s “Earth Hour”. | The Way Things Break

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