Earth Hour: To See or Not to See?

Last Saturday night (March 26) was Earth Hour. A time that, presumably, billions of people turn out their lights to support energy conservation. Hilton Worldwide, among other hotels and businesses, claim to participate in this celebration.

In its fifth year, Earth Hour was designed for people to show their support for sustainable actions. How could anybody oppose such a simple act or environmental sustainability itself?

Often there is more than meets the eye. That is my impetus to blog; not to dwell on what is seen, rather to point out what is often not seen, as so eloquently described by Frederic Bastiat more than 100 years ago.

Rather than reiterate here what others have already said, I will merely redirect you to their points.

  • Ross McKitrick “abhors” Earth Hour because it demonizes electricity regardless of the benefits and increased prosperity that it provides.
  • Don Boudreaux and others celebrate Human Achievement hour instead, and propose turning the lights on.
  • Krishnan comments that resource use is often mistaken for waste even when it provides for increased well-being.

While many across the globe see more clearly with the lights on, the costs of energy and resource use are often emphasized more than the benefits. Benefits from energy use include increased prosperity, health, leisure, and education, even enhanced environmental quality. I commend resource conservation when it is efficient to do so. But a goal to merely reduce resource use is myopic.

As an interesting sideline, I stayed in a Hilton brand hotel in Montana this weekend and heard nary a word about Earth Hour.

Originally posted at Environmental Trends


  1. Earth Hour is a symbolic act, meant to acknowledge the impact our resource use has on the environment. I don’t see how that can be harmful. Most people don’t think electricity is a bad thing, and certainly don’t “demonize” it. After all, they turn the lights back on, don’t they? The benefits of electricity are very plain to see, and most people are quite aware of them. Electricity is not being oppressed. Taking an hour to contemplate the costs is perfectly reasonable, and it’s a time to consider whether or not we really need all of the electricity that we use. Costs are costs. If we draw attention to them, we are more likely to act to reduce them. If all of our electricity came from renewable, non-polluting sources, Earth Hour wouldn’t exist.