Earth Hour’s compromises

Citizen reporter Katie Daubs has put together a piece on the moral complexities of tonight’s Earth Hour events. It’s centred on Ottawa, but the questions are of general application:

Organizers acknowledge that turning off the lights won’t save the world. They say their point in killing the lights for an hour is largely symbolic. But it raises the question: When you’re trying to bring new supporters to your cause, how much can you afford to compromise your message to get their attention?

Changing public opinion is daunting. Neither hard-core environmentalists nor those who oppose them are easily moved. The key demographic is the mass in the middle who could be swayed either way. Marketing experts say that asking this group to flip a few switches is a brilliantly simple way to engage them.

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2 responses to “Earth Hour’s compromises

  1. David- I would have to agree that the marketing and public reach angle is the true value.

    I just posted on my blog this morning as I wasn’t even aware of Earth Hour until I hit the Google home page “Gone Dark” this morning.

  2. David,

    I’m sure you’ve also seen the Ontario Hydro tables that show that we increased our use before earth hour and only marginally decreased it during earth hour. I am of the opinion that these symbolic victories are nothing but free advertising for Greenpeace. If you check out Stephen Taylor’s blog on the day you’ll see that the CBC despite pumping the event didn’t turn out its lights.

    No one is more aware now than they were before earth hour. The awareness angle is depressing. I also find it ironic that the person who will probably discover the cure(?) for global warming, most likely was up late studying or working and didn’t consider the “mostly symbolic” actions of his or her peers.

    Currently we’re trying to convince people that making personal changes is easy. Wasn’t it easy turning off your lights? It’s the wrong approach. What we really need to be doing is convincing people of where they can properly save money by conserving. Switching to more efficient light bulbs makes sense (once your old ones die), using less TP makes sense, driving a 4 cylinder car (or hybrid) makes sense, they will all show a noticeable benefit to oneself and the cause.

    If the environment is the holocaust that Liz May would have us believe (which I do), then awareness of the problem is nothing. Getting young men and women to sign up for hard, dangerous and thankless work will help stem the threat, but turning off your lights for 1/8784th of your year is just laughable.

    It’s like we are in the middle of the Battle of Britain and we are shutting off our lights, rather than taking to the skies and addressing the threat.

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