EDITORIAL: Lights-out ‘Earth Hour’ is 60 minutes wasted

Few cries for attention are less effective than turning off the lights and sitting in the dark for an hour. Who can watch if they cannot see? Nevertheless, the World Wide Fund for Nature is encouraging people around the world to honor, or celebrate, or mourn, or whatever, during “Earth Hour,” Saturday night between 8:30 and 9:30.

The idea is to persuade everybody to renounce technology with the flick of a switch, raising “awareness” of the need for big government to rescue the globe, indeed even the universe, from the scourge of global warming.

A surprising number of businesses and organizations have bought into the scheme. Atlantic City casinos run by Caesars Entertainment will switch off exterior lighting (though maybe not the lights on the slots and the roulette tables). Verizon has encouraged employees to turn off lights in their homes. The Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch, Chicago’s Navy Pier and the Space Needle in Seattle will be dimmed. So will Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House and the Eiffel Tower.

Earth Hour paints humanity as the villain pillaging Mother Earth and perpetuates the Luddite myth that modern technology is the enemy of nature. That’s not even close to being true.

Advances in science have kept the skies and water cleaner than ever, contributing to sustainable practices that make humans thrive, and plants soak up the abundant carbon dioxide to grow ever taller and greener.

It’s hard for serious people to take this event seriously, especially since the high priest of environmentalism, Al Gore, isn’t participating.

The former veep ignored the original Earth Hour in 2009. Windows of Mr. Gore’s energy-devouring Nashville mansion were lighted by incandescent bulbs and the glow of computer monitors. A dozen outdoor floodlights illuminated trees at the entrance to the palatial Gore place.

For once, Mr. Gore had the right idea. Everyone’s time would be better spent taking advantage of the conveniences of modern life while reflecting on the benefits of electricity, heaters, air conditioning, refrigeration and other innovations that have enabled people around the globe to live happier, healthier lives.

That’s the idea behind Human Achievement Hour, the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s response to Earth Hour. Rather than sitting in the dark on Saturday night, Human Achievement Hour encourages people to “celebrate a human achievement that has improved their lives — everything from indoor plumbing to computer technology, to access to consumer goods and affordable energy.”

The free-market think tank encourages people to participate by enjoying a warm (or even hot) shower, to crack open a cold beer, watch a basketball game on TV, text a friend on a smartphone or enjoy any of the simple joys of life made possible by the energy and innovation of free men.
More of the world’s problems have been solved by human ingenuity and the free market than by sitting around in the dark and feeling guilty (for the wrong things) for an hour.