Idiot Hour

I enjoyed my Productivity Hour very much. I thought about how much electricity benefits our lives and how the goal should be to produce dramatically more energy, not less.

I was pleased to read the following headline: “Denver hardly plugged into ‘Earth Hour’.” Downtown “most businesses remained brightly lit during a global effort to dim lights and raise awareness of climate change.”

I especially appreciated the way that Denver Post reporter Kieran Nicholson interviewed critics of “Earth Hour.” No, wait — she didn’t do that. Instead, she wrote a one-sided story that was basically a propaganda piece for the environmentalist religion. Nicholson presumed that those who refused to cow to this environmentalist nonsense were “operating in the metaphorical dark when it came to Earth Hour.” It couldn’t possibly be that some Coloradans realize that “Earth Hour” is insanity and intentionally turned on their lights in protest.

“Earth Hour” should have been called Idiot Hour, as the following passages from Nicholson’s story illustrate:

Steve Hulsberg, 29, of Aurora… an information technology worker, attended the Denver International Auto Show at the Colorado Convention Center before walking over to the mall to see the lights dim. He’s looking to buy a hybrid Ford Escape or Toyota Highlander, he said, in the interest of being “green.” …

Floridians Steven Darby and his son Rutland were spending spring break in Colorado to ski.

At the Hard Rock on Saturday, they were surprised — but enthusiastic — when the lights went low.

“I think it’s a great concept,” Steven Darby said.

It turns out that the Escape gets 22 to 28 miles per gallon, while the Highlander gets 18 to 24 miles per gallon. That’s “green?” My non-hybrid car gets better gas mileage than that. But, hey, it’s a “hybrid,” so who cares about how much gas it actually burns! This is, after all, a cult, not anything that actually has anything to do with the real environment.

And how much energy did the Floridians consume traveling to Colorado? Or eating at a restaurant? Yes, anti-industrial environmentalism is a “great concept,” so long as it’s limited to an hour of a pleasant spring evening, and we can still sit in a plush, warm restaurant or contemplate gas-guzzling automobiles.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m happy that the participants of “Earth Hour” are, for the most part, a bunch of hypocrites. If they actually took seriously this nonsense about turning out the lights and not using energy, they would be thoroughly morally corrupt, rather than merely hypocritical.

Update: Someone suggested that critics of “Earth Hour” ought not be so harsh in their condemnations. So I’ll grant here that, also for the most part, those who participated in “Earth Hour” (by turning off lights and other “non-essential” appliances) are well-intentioned, in that they want to maintain an industrial society, only one that reduces “greenhouse” emissions. Furthermore, these people can point to evidence (or at least widely purported evidence) that human activity significantly contributes to global warming (despite the fact that global warming is, historically, cyclical).

Nevertheless, I do maintain that pro-industrial participants of “Earth Hour” aren’t noticing the implications of turning out the lights. “Earth Hour” suggests that the proper way to deal with global warming is to reduce human consumption of energy. Even if global warming is likely to continue over coming decades, even if it is significantly caused by human activity, and even if it would significantly harm people by century’s end — and in my view each of those propositions is shakier than the last — the proper solution is not to reduce the production of energy. Reducing the production of energy implies less productivity overall, and fewer life-enhancing goods and services in the U.S. and more poverty globally. Forcibly reducing energy production would impose high human costs and yet fail to seriously address global warming. Such a move would hamper economic advancement, including potential advancements in energy production.

Instead, the proper solution is to allow people to act in an unfettered free market — rather than in a political arena dominated by special interests and political favoritism — to discover better ways to use and produce energy. Notably, nuclear power is clean and safe, yet many environmentalists continue to oppose it. I don’t know whether nuclear power would win in a market over the coming decades, or whether some other source of energy would prove more effective and economical. But I do know that the political process has brought us such things as corn gas, which is essentially worthless in terms of addressing global warming (but great for enriching special interests and raising food prices). Thus I conclude where I began: the goal should be to produce dramatically more energy, not less.