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Earth Hour? What Happened to Earth Day?

March 28, 2009 | 1 Minute Read


So I keep hearing about this mythical “Earth Hour” in which we’re supposed to turn our lights off an hour earlier than usual. My first thought was that it was sad that Earth Day was downsized to last just an hour. My second thought was that, while the activity is a nice gesture of wanting to help the environment, it probably does little to actually affect anything in the long term.

I’m no electrical engineer, but the way I understand it, power plants adjust their output according to power usage. So they use less fuel at night and more during the peak hours of the day. Turning your lights off for an hour will probably just make the power plants less effective unless they anticipate or quickly adjust to the lower amounts of power being drawn. It’s sorta like how having a one-day gas boycott doesn’t really do anything.

Earth Hour seems like a sad indicator of how lazy we are as humans. It’s like a band-aid. “If I turn my lights off for an hour, I’m saving the planet!” You could also just switch to a different type of lightbulb and have a much better amortized effect on the environment, or ride a bike instead of driving. Who’s willing to bet that the same people who switch their lights off for an hour also leave their TVs and other standby electronics plugged in when they’re not using them?