Sorry, Earth Hour freaks, but Mindanao may not make it tonight.
Turning off lights — even for an hour — may prove to be too much to ask, especially if you currently live in the Philippines’ second-largest island.
And it’s not because residents fail to appreciate the urgency of saving Mother Earth. Nor is it because residents dislike Earth Hour’s organizer — World Wildlife Fund (WWF) — and its partner companies, including the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the Philippines’ largest electricity distributor.
Never mind that the WWF supports clean coal technology — which traps toxic emissions from coal plants — a process that remains undeveloped, and that Meralco buys power from plants that use coal, the cheapest yet dirtiest fuel.
It’s just that for months on end, Mindanao residents have been doing Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes’ version of the Earth Hour — the island has been suffering from blackouts spanning anywhere from three to eleven hours every day.
And so, if the world sees Mindanao all lit-up like a Christmas tree from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening of March 27, Saturday, let’s cut the island some slack.
Instead, we should blame God for the island’s widespread blackouts, just like what the energy secretary earlier recommended.
After all, playing the blame game is so much easier than actually providing long-term solutions.
Just like turning off a light switch.
Or blogging, for that matter.
But then again, I digress.
Thanks to paleo.wordpress.com for the highly-relevant picture.
Celebrities and personalities of all shapes, sizes, colors, and configurations will all celebrate Earth Day this year by turning off lights for an hour.
It will be no different from last year.
Starlets and slacktivists will all give themselves a collective blow job after turning off the lights for one hour.
Big fucking deal.
They will supposedly be joined by a cast of crazies from the rest of the world — the demented and the deluded, the self-centered, the self-indulgent, and the self-important (suddenly, a person comes to mind), the greedy rich, the stupid poor, and members of the bumbling, blathering middle-class.
Excuse me for being a sanctimonious little prick but switching off lights for an hour will do absolutely nothing for the earth.
It’s slacktivism, plain and simple, no better than clicking the join button for a group advocating everything (save for hard work and hell-raising) on Facebook.
If anyone can cut substantial emissions by turning off lights for an hour around the world, then I can find the cure for all cancers, AIDS, and the set of six winning numbers on the next lotto draw.
Resources spent on the Earth Hour campaign — the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel consumed by organizers to help put it all together, the electricity spent for printing out posters, including tarps, which are not so biodegradeable — will more than likely just offset, if at all, the emissions saved by the forced one-hour brownout.
The best solution for reducing effects of climate change is always the hardest.
It includes, among others, cutting consumption of — yes, you’ve guessed it — everything.
Of course, it won’t be simple.
It involves refraining from buying your nth pair of shoes or getting that new SUV just to keep up with the neighbors. (For that matter, it involves drastically cutting use of private vehicles.)
It involves buying locally-made goods because imported ones — while cheaper — consume a lot more emissions because more energy was spent transporting these items to our shores.
Until all of us come to terms with what it really takes to save this planet, Earth Hour at least to me is nothing more than a yearly gimmick; an invented social event just to make everyone feel good.
So will I turn off the lights for Earth Hour this year?
Like hell I will.
I’m going to leave it on the whole night.
And if somebody asks why, I’ll say I’m doing it for the people of Mindanao who to this day suffer from 11-hour blackouts — everyday.
At least, I’ve called attention to their plight.
But that, of course, is another matter altogether.
Any initiative supported by large companies is bound to be useless.
Take Earth Hour, a global effort that encourages individuals to turn off lights — or at least dim them — for an hour.
It won’t make any difference for a number of reasons.
First off, think of all the energy, the money, and the resources dedicated to promoting Earth Hour around the world.
Think of all the paper the campaigners used to write letters to presidents of corporations, requesting their support for Earth Hour.
Think of the ink used by printers to — uh — print the said letters, the paper — and the ink — presidents of corporations used and consumed to reply to the letters requesting their support for Earth Hour.
Think of the energy consumed by sending emails requesting support for Earth Hour. (Was the energy used to provide power to the computer and the cable modem that enabled the email transmission clean? Did it come from renewable sources? Or was it sourced from gas-, diesel-, or coal- powered plants, which in turn, contribute to global emissions?)
Think of the posters used to promote Earth Hour this year.
How will they be disposed? Will they disappear into thin air, leaving no effect to the environment? Nope.
They will most likely end up being tomorrow’s garbage. Sure, they may be recyclable (and I seriously doubt that).
Picture taken from www.earthfirst.com
But in order to recycle, you have to consume energy, baby.
Think of all the emissions from the exhausts of cars and vehicles of Earth Hour campaigners — some of which and I am pretty sure of this may even be gas-guzzling SUVs — when they troop to and from their meetings with representatives of companies whose support they plan to court.
Do you think these people would bother to take public transportation? Do they zip around the city in Toyota Priuses, trying their very best to cut their respective emission footprints? Nope.
All in all, think about the time, money, and energy spent on the campaign for Earth Hour around the world.
Would that be significantly less than the energy spent by dimming your lights once a year?
The only way to save the earth is the untrammeled establishment of a renewable energy policy and the relentless, unhampered pursuit of establishing infrastructure to make renewable and affordable energy available to all.
And that includes reforming public transport policy, encouraging those with private vehicles to patronize mass transport systems.
Right off the bat, this isn’t something that energy companies would be comfortable supporting.
Besides cutting short term earnings, a sustainable renewable energy policy done right — including imposing prohibitive car use fees, something already done in London and other parts of Europe — would make them obsolete (unless of course they themselves decide to invest in such technologies).
So what do I make of Earth Hour? Pure hype.
It won’t make a dent in the global effort to save the earth. (Which makes me think about whether the earth is worth saving at all. But that’s another story best taken up during a discussion of Battlestar Galactica’s last episode.)
But then again, the Earth Hour was conceptualized by the World Wildlife Fund, sponsors of which include oil companies.
Also, the WWF is a champion of clean coal technology, which unfortunately is a myth; the collective wet dream of oil companies.
Under the so-called clean coal regime, emissions from coal — the cheapest but the dirtiest fuel — are trapped in smokestacks and buried underground.
No such technology has yet been developed, as far as I know.