At 8:30 p.m. local time, millions of people will likely turn off their lights to mark Earth Hour.
“On Saturday March 29th at 8:30pm, millions of people across the world are switching off lights for one hour – to celebrate their commitment to the planet,” the Earth Hour website states. “This year, you can do more.”
However, a prominent environmentalist and adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School contends that the annual event is not only a “waste of time,” but actually results in an increase of CO2 emissions being sent into the atmosphere.
Bjørn Lomborg, the former director of the Environmental Assessment Institute in Copenhagen, authored an opinion piece in USA today laying out his argument.
“Unfortunately, this Earth Hour event is nothing but an ineffective feel-good event,” he wrote. “It does little for the climate in terms of reducing CO2 emissions and distracts us from the real problems and solutions — especially giving light to those in the darkness.”
“While more than a billion people participate by shutting off their lights for an hour — and saving at most the equivalent of China halting its CO2 emissions for fewer than four minutes — 1.3 billion people across the developing world will continue to live without electricity as they do every other night of the year,” Lomborg continued.
In fact, last year he authored a post in Slate magazine saying that the environmental event actually resulted in an increase in CO2 emissions.
“[T]he reality is that Earth Hour teaches all the wrong lessons, and it actually increases CO2 emissions,” he said, explaining that ”any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.”
Instead, Lomborg contended that innovation will ultimately solve the energy crisis.
“If we really want a sustainable future for all of humanity and our planet, we shouldn’t plunge ourselves back into darkness,” he wrote in 2013. “Tackling climate change by turning off the lights and eating dinner by candlelight smacks of the “let them eat cake” approach to the world’s problems that appeals only to well-electrified, comfortable elites.”
“Focusing on green R&D might not feel as good as participating in a global gabfest with flashlights and good intentions, but it is a much brighter idea,” Lomborg concluded.
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