Earth Hour 2011: When Is It? What's the Point?

Earth Hour 2011: When Is It? What's the Point?

March 25, 2011
Originally published in National Geographic

Despite Earth Hour's growth since its introduction in Sydney in 2007, not everyone's on board. (Related: "Earth Hour 2009: A Billion to Go Dark Saturday?")

At least one group, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a D.C.-based nonprofit libertarian think tank, contends that Earth Hour sends the wrong message.

The organization is holding its own event during Earth Hour 2011—Human Achievement Hour 2011—to celebrate human inventions and innovations that "make today the best time to be alive." CEI's suggested Human Achievement Hour activities include taking a hot shower, watching TV, or phoning friends.

"They want people to turn off all of their lights for one hour on a Saturday night in spring as a symbol of a vote for action on climate change," said Michelle Minton, CEI's director of insurance studies.

"We believe that a vote has to have a choice, so Human Achievement Hour is the alternative, where people think good things about technology as a way to reach solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow."

Human Achievement Hour—including a party at CEI's offices that will stream live on CEI.org—isn't meant to oppose individuals who want to save energy, Minton explained.

But CEI takes issue with those who would, according to Minton, use the environmental movement to encourage governments to force people to conserve.

"We believe that freedom is what's necessary for individuals to come up with improved technologies not only in the West—where we can just flip the switch back on whenever we want—but also in the developing world," Minton said.

"In some places it's Earth Hour every hour of every day."