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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Today is the day of Earth Hour, where everyone is supposed to turn off their lights for an hour tonight in a pointless show of support for global warming. Global warming is currently under such an attack that, like deities in every religion, it must be constantly re-assured that it is foremost in everyone's mind. Also, don't look too closely at the tenets of the cult of climate change. I'll save the similarities between environmentalism and religion for another entry.

Google adopted a black theme for the occasion, though they had the courage to admit that it doesn't save an ounce of energy to do so. It's probably to promote "awareness" and demonstrate their environmentalist chops. Did they power down any of the hundreds of data centers they run in a show of solidarity? Of course not. It's still a business, and that sop would be expensive.

The thing that most bugs me about Earth Hour is that it celebrates darkness. The light bulb is perhaps the greatest invention ever and we're told that we need to turn it off in order to save the earth. The position is clearly us (our technological way of life) versus nature. It's Rousseau for the modern man.

If you think that Gore et al. don't really want to turn back the clock or rollback the economic progress, then consider his recent plea to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the United States by 90% by 2050. 90%! In the best case, where we switch from coal to nuclear power and internal combustion engines to electric ones, I doubt that we could get down to 10% of our current emissions and the dislocations in trying would be absolutely astounding. Worst case, we'd have to just shut down.

All of this just leaves me speechless, but I mustn't avoid speaking out. I will most likely be alive in 2050 and I do not want to live a "nasty, brutish, and short" existence. If the global plan to turn Earth Hour into Earth Year succeeds, I'm afraid that my future will be exactly that.

[UPDATE (4/2/2008): Keith Lockitch puts it well: "But during Earth Hour we see the disturbing spectacle of people celebrating those lights going out—of people rejoicing at the sight of skyscrapers going dark. If anything, what Earth Hour represents is the renunciation of civilization."]