Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Good Idea. Probably.

It's hardly the first notice I've seen--try watching the Weather Channel for three minutes without seeing it announced--but today's e-mail update from My Fair City got me to thinking about Earth Hour this coming Saturday. The announcement, in part:
    On Saturday, March 28, 2009, at 8:30 p.m., the City of Sioux Falls and some Sioux Falls businesses will be taking part in Earth Hour, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. We’ll be joining tens of millions of concerned citizens and corporations worldwide in calling for action to save our planet for future generations.

    To participate, simply turn off the lights in your home or business from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28. This is an opportunity to slow down, use candlelight, and make a statement about the fight against climate change.
Well, yeah. In principle, I agree. I try to be green, or at least greenish. I'm replacing incandescent bulbs with CF bulbs as they burn out. (Doesn't seem "green" to me to send working bulbs to the landfill prematurely.) I turn off the lights when I leave the room. We turn down the thermostat at night and when we leave the house. We recycle, and compost, and try with limited success to gang up our errands in an effort to burn less gasoline. But to turn off the lights on a Saturday night from 8:30 to 9:30. I dunno. Too bad it's not the following Saturday. We won't be home. Indeed, the lights will be turned off from 8:30 till much later than 9:30, I'm afraid. And I'm not wild about the city's offhanded tone. "Simply turn off the lights in your home or business." Really? Is that all? And how many city offices will be open at 8:30 on Saturday night? A few, sure--the police and fire departments, the water-treatment plant, stuff like that--but it's a pretty safe guess to say that most of them will already be closed and dark, so it's a little declasse to suggest we "simply" turn off the lights for an hour. Ditto businesses. I daresay that the ones that are closed on a Saturday night will happily (and simply!) turn off the lights. And I likewise daresay that the ones that are open will not care to turn off the lights for an hour, no matter how much that helps Planet Earth or shoplifters. After a couple of paragraphs' worth of background about Earth Hour, and the promise that this year's hour will be bigger than ever, the city flings this bit of oddness at me:
    We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together, we can take control of the future of our planet for future generations.
I have nothing to quibble about there...except what the hell are they talking about? We all have a vote? What are we voting on? Am I supposed to gather the family together for an Australian ballot to see if we can get a majority to support shutting off the lights? We're a family of four, so the possibility of a deadlock is quite real. I went back and reread the silly thing, there's nothing in there about voting. It's as if some other message elbowed its way into this one. Well, probably come 8:30 Saturday we'll turn off some of the lights, maybe even most of them. perhaps the one or two we leave on will be CF bulbs. It's not necessarily a bad idea. It's just that I think it would work better if we all agreed to turn off the lights between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m.

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