In just under a week, the WWF’s Earth Hour 2009 will take place. The project “aims to reach more than 1 billion people in 1000 cities around the world, inviting communities, business and governments to switch off lights for 1 hour and send a powerful global message that we need to take action on climate change.” We in Singapore will participate for the first time with landmarks such as the Singapore Flyer and much of the city’s shopping and financial districts participating in the black out. An exhaustive list of corporations and other organizations have signed up as supporters and there are also small events being held around the city including a screening of Al Gore’s film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and a ‘Green Carnival’ which will be held at the Esplanade Park .
While it’s encouraging that industry and government bodies are engaging in this effort to raise the profile of the green movement, I wonder about the effectiveness of this type of campaign. I fear that turning environmental awareness into this type of token activity to be performed annually alongside a carnival atmosphere may do more lip-service than actual good to the green movement. Leaving aside the debates about about how much energy is actually conserved in an hour-long blackout vs. the impact of everyone powering up again simultaneously at the end of the hour, there remains the argument that such a global showing of solidarity for climate change will impact the decisions made by world leaders when they meet in Copenhagen later this year when they will be presented with the ‘results’ of the ‘election’.
The rhetoric of the event makes people believe that by conserving power for an hour they are participating in an empowering act through which real change will be brought about and the cynic in me has her doubts. I fear that people will wear this as a badge in order to rest easy and be let off the hook from the little everyday things that ultimately count towards real lifestyle change and will make the difference in the long run. As to how much impact a global show of support will have on the Copenhagen climate conference I cannot say, but I hope that the awareness raised by this event will be sustained beyond just the hour, by both the organizations participating and the general public.
What do you think? Will you be participating in Earth Hour this Saturday?