This ‘Earth Hour,’ leave the lights on

This ‘Earth Hour,’ leave the lights on

Op-ed in The National Post
March 23, 2009
Originally published in The National Post

This week Competitive Enterprise Institute announced the creation of Human Achievement Hour (HAH) to be celebrated at 8:30 p. m. on March 28, 2009 (the same time and date of Earth Hour).

Our press release described ways people might celebrate the achievements of humanity such as eating diner, seeing a film, driving around, keeping the heat on in your home—all things that Earth Hour celebrators, presumably, should be refraining from. In the cheekiest manner, we claimed that anyone not foregoing the use of electricity in that hour is, by default, celebrating the achievements of human beings. Needless to say, the enviros in the blogosphere didn’t take to kindly to our announcement.

Matthew Wheeland, an environmental journalist called the holiday “mind-blowingly strange” and pondered if Earth Hour folks are including in their numbers people in countries that don’t have enough electricity to make the choice to turn out their lights. Of course, they don’t have the choice to acquire electricity whereas anyone can choose to stop using human technology if they wish.

In fact, one might even say that they are seething about it—lighting up the various green-oriented blogs with comments such as this sarcastic gem from Jon Petherbridge:

“Human achievement hour. Another great idea. I’ll remember how great we all are as I watch the heat mirages rising from the surrounding hoods as my arm hangs out the window during my next July traffic jam.

“Or maybe I’ll remember it the next time an American attack aircraft blows up a wedding party in Afghanistan. At least in that example we don’t have to feel bad for the dead Afghanis as they have a sexist culture that we are morally obligated to obliterate, quite literally if necessary. I reckon I’ll celebrate human achievement hour when everybody’s divorced or bisexual and drinking coca-cola in traffic jams on their way to work folding sandwiches for the lawyers and the bankers who we will worship for allowing us to support them by paying on our credit cards.”

They are also attempting to erase any attention directed at HAH, as you can see at the Wikipedia site. “This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedia’s deletion policy,” warns a notice above the “Human Achievement Hour” Wikipedia article.

Of course, there are people out there who appreciate what we are trying to say. For example, Rajesh in India writes on his blog:

“Coming from India where we routinely suffer power cuts due to mixed-market policies of the government, I found this post from The New Clarion fantastic … Let’s use the wavelength of both light and philosophy to keep darkness at bay.”

Green and private conservation are fine. We have no problem with an individual (or group) that wants to sit naked in the dark without heat, clothing or light. Additionally, we’d have no problem with the group holding a pro-green technology rally. That’s their choice. But when this group stages a “global election”—enviros are asking the world’s citizenry to vote Earth by switching off our lights with the express purpose of influencing government policies to take action against global warming—we have every right as individuals to express our vote for the opposite.

If our Human Achievement Hour is at all a dig against Earth Hour, it is so only by the fact that we are pointing out what Earth Hour truly is about: It isn’t pro-Earth, it is anti-man and anti-innovation. So, on March 28, I plan to continue “voting” for humanity by enjoying the fruits of man’s mind.

Michelle Minton is a policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.