Skip to comments.Dark side of the global lights out campaign
Posted on 04/14/2008 7:08:15 PM PDT by PGR88
When it comes to all things "green", common sense seems to have been abandoned. Consider the recent "lights out" campaign that was supposed to energise the world about the problems of climate change by urging citizens in 27 big cities to turn out their lights for an hour. With scores of companies and municipalities signing up, the WWF quickly called it an amazing success. Nobody, it seemed, wanted to spoil the party by pointing out that the event was immensely futile, that it highlighted a horrible metaphor, or that it caused much higher overall pollution.
Danish newspapers happily quoted the WWF regarding the event's overwhelming success. But the entire savings (assuming people didn't use more energy later in the night, to make up for lost time) was just 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide - equivalent to just one Dane's annual emissions for a full year.
As some conservative commentators like to point out, the environmental movement has indeed become a dark force, not metaphorically, but literally. Indeed, urging us to sit in darkness will probably only make us realise how unlikely it is that we will ever be convinced to give up the advantages of fossil fuels. Curiously, nobody suggested the "lights out" campaign should also mean no heat, air conditioning, telephones, internet, movies, hot food, warm coffee or cold drinks - not to mention the loss of security when street lights and traffic signals don't work.
Ironically, the lights out campaign also implies much greater energy inefficiency and dramatically higher levels of air pollution. When asked to extinguish electric lights, most people around the world would turn to candlelight instead. Yet, when measured by the light they generate, candles are almost 100 times less efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and more than 300 times less efficient than fluorescent lights. Moreover, candles can easily create indoor air pollution that is 10-100 times the level of outdoor air pollution caused by cars, industry and electricity production.
Unfortunately, the lights out campaign exemplifies the state of much of our environmental debate. We are fed stories that fit preconceived frameworks. For example, we are endlessly presented with stories of soaring temperatures but, over the past year, we've experienced the single-fastest temperature change ever recorded - and it's been downwards. In January, Hong Kong was gripped by its second-longest cold spell since 1885. This year's storms in central and southern China produced the worst winter weather in half a century. Snow fell on Baghdad for the first time in living memory.
When we get a distorted picture, we are likely to make wrong choices. Nowhere is this clearer than with the lights out campaign. Doing virtually no good while dramatically decreasing energy efficiency and increasing air pollution merely threatens any hope for enlightened public policy.
Bjorn Lomborg is the organiser of the Copenhagen Consensus and adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School. Copyright: Project Syndicate
Did anyone actually participate in the lights out ignorama?
I think the environmental movement has been infiltrated by neanderthols and cave men.
Someone else I read said if you wanted to point out that electricity was destructive, don't stop it for an hour, stop it for a week. Then ask yourself if electricity is disruptive, or the lack of it.
What's with liberals this year? They seem to be taking figurative expressions and turning them into reality. Before, when you accused liberals of sitting in the dark, you didn't mean they were ACTUALLY sitting in the dark. Before, when you accused a liberal that he'd disown his own grandma for political gain, you didn't ACTUALLY mean it.
>>Did anyone actually participate in the lights out ignorama?
Yeah, I did. I had all my lights on. You could see my house from outer space.
Good column. The Danes apparently won’t listen to him even though he’s one of their own.
I think North Korea did.
Me too! My neighbors are still pissed because they think I had em all on due to their daughter’s 14th B day party. All of the kids were in their backyard playing music and dancing! As if I cared.
I was however pissed off to be driving home at 8 PM with no street lights or house lights to guide my way.
How stupid are we?
Some days I just despair! That was definitely one of them.
Bjorn Lomborg is awesome.
Every should read his book “ The Skeptical Environmentalist”
Good informative stuff.
I think on earth day I'll get my floodlights out and light up the house. Maybe make a sign celebrating Earth day.
We went without electricity, running water and much more during Hurricane Katrina in Biloxi, Mississippi: Believe me, you miss it more and more each day, especially in humid, 100 degree plus weather! Nuclear energy is clearly the solution, which is why we’re not doing it!
I went one better- instead of turning the lights off at 8pm for an hour, I turned them off at midnight for 8 hours.
On “lights out night”, I left my apartment lights on while I went to a nighttime motocross race, which was lit with several large banks of arclights. The bright white glare did a great job of highlighting the exhaust smoke from the two-stroke bikes, and the heady fumes of burnt high-octane race gas were everywhere. That race probably generated nearly a ton of CO2 all by itself, as it ran until nearly midnight. And, since it was out in the boonies, everyone had to drive. I don’t think there were more than two or three cars there; everything else was full-sized trucks and SUVs.
What the eco-ninnies don’t realize is that the energy to make the lights work was still generated. Electric companies anticipate demand and generate accordingly. Unused, it can’t be stored. It is just ... gone.
LOL! To celebrate, I think I’ll fire up my old truck and go for a nice long drive. Or perhaps head over to a buddy’s place for beers-n-bonfire.
I still feel badly that we were at church all that evening, so the lights were out at our house (except for the heat lamp on the snake’s cage). Our neighbors might have gotten the idea that we Care About the Environment.
They'll stay off all day - until I get home...
Sadly and unintentionally I did participate. But I made up for it. I was camping with nine of my Boy Scouts and a few dads. However, we kept the propane lantern lit bright and the boys had a roaring campfire going all night spewing tons and tons of carbon and other nasty little gases into the air.