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An Hour of Self Delusion


Earth Hour: 60 minutes of self delusion brought to you by IKEA.

Having moved recently, I’ve been hanging out at IKEA more than usual. Which means I’ve been urged repeatedly, via their public address system, to participate in Earth Hour.

As it says on the IKEA Canada website:

Turning off our lights for one hour may not solve our climate crisis, but it raises awareness and demand for the large scale change that will.

The notion that flicking off a few lights will do anything to raise awareness is surely highly questionable. The media has, after all, been beating the global warming drum for the past 25 years.

Activist scientist James Hansen’s famous testimony – during a heatwave, in a room in which the windows had been theatrically opened to offset the air conditioning – took place in 1988. A quarter of a bloody century ago.

Timothy Wirth acknowledges the 1988 Hansen testimony “stagecraft”

Unless a person has been skulking in a cave for the past 25 years, they’ve heard all about the “climate crisis.” Over and over again. Ad frakking nauseam. Who could possibly be unaware of this issue by now?

The idea that people who dim their lights are defacto demanding “large scale change” is equally absurd. There are more direct, concrete, and effective ways of accomplishing change than sitting in the dark for an hour. One of them is called the ballot box. Yet the last time Canada held a federal election, only 61% of voters bothered to take part.

South of the border, polling numbers released in January reveal that, when asked what Congress’s top priority should be this year, ordinary people ranked “dealing with global warming” dead last out of a list of 21 possible issues. The economy, jobs, terrorism, education, health care, poverty – all of those made it into the top 10.

Climate change was the last go-cart to cross the finish line. The public could hardly have expressed its views more plainly. When forced to choose between climate change and other concerns, most people think climate change dissolves into the mist.

These results are not new. For the past seven years the same pollster has asked Americans to evaluate the importance of global warming. The only year that issue didn’t finish last was 2007. Among the 16 topics people were asked about in 2007, global warming came second last, just slightly ahead of their concerns regarding global trade.

It’s time WWF activists and sanctimonious IKEA executives stopped deluding themselves. There is no evidence whatsoever that the public is prepared to endure “large scale change” in order to combat global warming.

Nor is there any reason to believe that symbolically turning out the lights for one hour out of a possible 8,760 each year will alter that fact.

As the commenter wwschmidt observed over at the WattsUpWithThat blog earlier today, Earth Hour is

The triumph of seeming over being.

Why struggle to solve real problems and work to understand how things really work, when you can make yourself feel morally superior with an empty and meaningless gesture?


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