What did we gain from Earth Hour? Not much ... yet
By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance
You’re probably in one of two camps this morning if Earth Hour talk has come up around the office.
You’ve either patted yourself on the back for turning your lights off for an hour this weekend, or you’ve lied right in someone’s face by telling them you did.
Regardless, this isn’t where division in the Earth Hour discussion ends. Saturday night’s global environmental movement was surely well-intentioned but, looking back, what have we learned?
The answer to whether Earth Hour 2009 – where an estimated billion people reduced or removed their power consumption for one hour – was a success isn’t particularly easy to conclude.
In terms of immediate impact on you, Earth Hour likely isn’t delivering much aside from the feeling you may or may not get by joining the crusade against global warming. Shutting off your lights for an hour isn’t going to have much effect on your monthly hydro bill, but you know that already.
And when you dig a bit, it seems Earth Hour may have been more style than substance. Despite millions across Canada taking part, the initiative proved a little counter-productive. Calgary noted no real improvement in its energy consumption Saturday night and Saskatchewan all but yawned at the prospect, boasting “no measurable effect” on the province’s usage during the hour.
Even when there was progress (Toronto’s Earth Hour movement saved about 15% compared to the city’s typical energy consumption), it appears marred in setback. As the Globe and Mail points out, Ontario’s dirty coal-fired plants weren’t even online during Earth Hour. So whatever dip in energy demand there was, that only lead to some of the province’s clean hydro electricity not being used – which, comparatively speaking, doesn’t pose that much environmental harm, anyway.
The Australian even adds fuel to the fire, arguing that the entire cumulative event of Earth Hour is a nice gesture but merely the “equivalent to switching off China’s emissions for six short seconds. In economic terms, the environmental and humanitarian benefits from efforts of the entire developed world (during Earth Hour) would add up to just $21,000.”
So no, there’s not much victory there. Look closer, though.
The boom in awareness of Earth Hour, which grew exponentially from 50 million participants just last year, shows – at the very least – an encouraging mobilization by the world toward environmental issues.
The Globe speculates that global passion will be impossible to ignore by world governments, who may hold the real power to drastically cutting the world’s emissions. With the support of millions nationwide, experts think Canada could be a trendsetter in introducing public policies that would result in far more lasting conservation results.
Some of those policies could lead each province to lean on its residents to cut down use of “vampire electronics” like plasma TVs, DVD players and microwaves that suck hydro from the grid even when they’re not being used. Environmental leaders also think Earth Hour could help provinces encourage those with central A/C units to install devices that automatically cycle them on and off during peak usage periods, when utilities are more likely to be operating on dirty fossil-fuel-fired power.
This will all mean money off your hydro bill and into your pocket, too.
In typical big city fashion, ever-Green Mayor David Miller staged a self-congratulating rally at his City Hall Saturday night, exclaiming “Torontonians want to do what’s right for the environment because they get it. It’s a privilege to be mayor of a city that gets it.”
Such Earth Hour praise may be a bit premature, but give this thing time. It could be the catalyst to major change, after all.
Posted by: Peter FS | Mar 30, 2021 12:48:20 PM
If we really want to save the earth, it would be better to turn the lights off for an hour every week or everyday instead of once every year. This earth hour was a symbolic gesture only.
Posted by: Braden | Mar 30, 2021 1:02:48 PM
If people asked me if I turned off my lights for earth hour, I would simply tell them hell no.
Posted by: Ryan | Mar 30, 2021 1:12:06 PM
I turn off my lights for 8-10 hours every day. It's called night time, and I'm sleeping.
Posted by: Daniel | Mar 30, 2021 1:22:41 PM
This whole thing about global warming is questionable at best. Over 98% of the composition of "greenhouse gases" is water vapour. Carbon is a bit player in the whole picture. Climate change has been the way of the planet's workings since day one. The planet has been warmer than this in the past. Dig in the desert and you find fossil evidence that there was a rainforest there. Think they had a bit of a drought? I could go on and on about this, so I'll stop now.
Posted by: Freddie | Mar 30, 2021 2:04:25 PM
Every little bit helps...we killed the main power switch to our entire house and played board games by candlelight with friends and family...good times!
Posted by: Richard | Mar 30, 2021 2:08:35 PM
Earth hour like fiber based shopping bags is just a drop in the ocean on enviromental change.
Posted by: Steve | Mar 30, 2021 2:35:06 PM
This was a bad date to pick, as floods and cold weather plague most of north america and does nothing when it comes to hydro-electric generated power, there is a lot of excess spill off.
Summer would be a better time when everyone can just go outside....
Posted by: Canadian consumer | Mar 30, 2021 2:44:51 PM
We are consuming over two or three generations what took hundreds of millions of years to produce in fossil fuels. It will run out... it has to. Remember, it takes just four missed meals for a worldwide breakdown in political stability. The issues are far bigger than a single Earth Day here and there... Although we will not live to see that day, anarchy is just a few hundred years away.
Global warming is real... it is the question of how much of that is man-made that is controversial. At the very least let each one of us keep our backyards clean and hope for the best. No one is saying go by horseback to Calgary (just an example) instead of an airplane... but if you want to see your grandmother there 4 times a year, go there twice a year or move there instead. Switch of the lights every time, turn off the car engine at red lights, print out e-mails only if you have to, the list goes on an on. I am presuming that if you read this far you really do care. So make a difference and keep your own conscience clear. That is the best you can do.
Posted by: Daniel | Mar 30, 2021 2:57:14 PM
CanadianConsumer: Sure, the planet might be warming up a bit... but the planet has been warmer than it is now and significantly so. I guess it was also global warming that resulted in the retreat of the ice fields during the last ice age. Perhaps that warmup should have been prevented too and 1/2 of the planet should be buried under ice.
The fact is that our climate will always change and there is nothing we can do about it. One thing you can count on though is that there will always be people like Al Gore and others who will exploit this issue for monetary gain.
Posted by: Observer | Mar 30, 2021 3:09:41 PM
Well lets have everyone pat themselves on the back (the worthless David Miller included) for doing absolutely nothing in the big scheme of things. Go back to driving your over sized SUVs, minivans, etc. Did you turn off the lights in your 3,000 square foot home? Perhaps while they were off, did you consider whether you really need 3,000 square feet to live in, perfectly manicured watered lawn, etc.
Earth hour is meaningless in the big scheme of things and really a meaningless effort. As opposed to turning off lights for one hour, why not encourage people to replace one light with a lower wattage replacement? Just one light changed in your house will make more difference in a week than turning off all your lights for one hour. Fix that leaky faucet, put in some insulation, get a tune-up, etc. Earth Hour is meaningless and deflects from REAL CHANGE that everyone can make with mo major changes in life style and perhaps even improvements. Nothing like insulating and sealing leaks to keep your house temperature more constant.
Long term, you need to evaluate if you really need the excesses you have ..... will your grand kids appreciate the mess you left them?
Posted by: Andy T | Mar 30, 2021 3:28:24 PM
Does it really help the earth? I don't think so!
But at least the champagne wake up public attention of "globe warming". Governments will hear the voice of the public "concern of globe warming".
Posted by: saskdude | Mar 30, 2021 3:54:06 PM
Earth hour is just like earth day 'a huge waste of time'. All these tree huggers have turned this whole green b.s. into a religion. If you don't believe your are ignorant and uneducated, these unlodgical people are just following like sheep, they have drank the KOOLAID and do these things to make themselves feel oh so good about themselves. THERE IS NO GLOBAL WARMING OR "Climate change" due to carbon emisions. IT IS THE SUN THAT HEATS our planet.
Posted by: Canadian consumer | Mar 30, 2021 5:07:17 PM
Of course the climate will change and of course there is nothing you or I can do about it. A change in time-averaged earth surface temperature from 15C to 15.1C is all that has happened-that is global warming (saskdude-the daily temperature from the sun's heat fluctuates far more than this). I was writing about natural resource waste and pollution. Science has managed to stay one step ahead by keeping the water clean enough and the air pure enough to live, but it behooves everyone to be responsible.
Posted by: J | Mar 30, 2021 5:09:11 PM
I happen to work at a small power plant which supplies around 50000 people with power, and you know how much the load dropped during that hour???? MAYBE 1 megawatt, so we run a fairly efficient operation of around 8-9GJ per MW produced, so effectively might have saved....40 bucks on fuel??? haha, congratulations earth hour.../fail, at least most people here don't fall victim to all the false and unproven science behind the global warming myth.
Posted by: Concerned person | Mar 30, 2021 5:41:41 PM
Global Warming is REAL...some of it is just the natural way of the planet however a large portion of it is because of people and all their technology... tv's cars airplanes ect. we could all do a hell of a lot more than just turning off our lights for an hour once a year how about turning off lights everyday when you don't need them. Turning off your computer when you are not using it. People's "need" for things is killing this planet. Natural resouces are not going to be around forever. Why don't they make it a law that you have to use bottles that can be recycled or bags that can be recycled instead of giving people the choice of what to use only make stuff that is good for our planet. I don't think using paper bags is a huge tragidy. People need to be more aware of what they are doing. Even if global warming is a natural event that is going to happen shouldn't we do everything in our power to prevent our planet from being covered in ice for as long as we can giving our children a fighting chance at life. Technology... who has the fanciest car or newest phone wont matter when its all under a huge feild of ice.
Posted by: psc | Mar 30, 2021 6:28:17 PM
I t is a load of bunkum. I have done all I can to conserve...I use candles instead of light bulbs. I have no furnace even tho I live in the great white north and I do all of the other things suggested. I through my efforts in conserving not energy but money now have a huger hydro bill than my neighbour that leaves lights on 24/7 does at least 6 loads of laundry per day leaves the tvs on 24/7.
My last bill for one person...living in the dark...800.00$ hers for the same time frame.323.00$...so much for conservation and the smart meters
Posted by: Bryan | Mar 30, 2021 6:38:29 PM
It does help Global Warming by turning of your lights but at the same time i could save alot of people billions of dollars the problem is overpopulization!!! the world wasn't made to support this many people and the scary thing is in 40 years the worlds population will grow at a great rate heck if you want to save on your bills and help out the world have 3 kids no more.
Posted by: The Bobster | Mar 30, 2021 6:44:07 PM
Comments made about "there is no global warming" and as the "concerned person said"..."it is real. Of course it's real...has anyone bothered to check how large the holes are in the ozone layer? That's right I said HOLES...years ago we just had one hole in the ozone and it got bigger gradually with all the emissions that we spew into the atmosphere every day. Yes, the whole world has gone through some type of climate change and we won't have an ice age. It will be like in about 100 or so yerars the earth will be sporting a large dome over it to sustain life as we know it.
Earth day??? "What a load of crap!!!"
Posted by: Who Cares | Mar 30, 2021 7:23:01 PM
doesn't matter the world is coming to an end in 2012
Posted by: kevin | Mar 30, 2021 8:27:04 PM
jeez man..what a colossal waste of time! Turning lites off for 1 hour. they give off heat for crying out loud...100% efficient. we just cranked up the thermostat for a few more minutes afterwards. Do it in july or august. Human involvement in global warming is like saying we control the rotation of the Earth. We don't affect it at all. Save fuel, turn out the lites when you can, recycle and reduce but please...get off the global warming band wagon...every scientist out there worth anything has already dismissed humas having any impact on it...its going to happen whether we are here or not!!