Sydney Earth Hour : Symbolism or GreenWashing

The Sydney Earth Hour is a initiative to switch off the lights for a hour on Saturday 31st March at 7:30 PM as a symbolic gesture to climate change.WWF-Australia claims that 1000 businesses have turned up to embrace the initiative and calls it “”Australia’s largest climate change initiative” which is questionable.

Terry McCrann puts things in perspective:

If this is all it takes to stop greenhouse gases frying the planet, I’d be happy to join in doing something which is completely painless and utterly pointless.

What exactly is it? Turning off the lights for one hour. But not at a time or on a day which might actually inconvenience business and therefore mean a real reduction in energy use.

To believe that would add up even to anywhere near four-fifths of five-eighths of very little of 5 per cent is to believe that the tooth fairy can do its job without nightlights.

When company boards and managements embrace fatuous symbolism it’s a bit of a worry. But as long as that’s all it is, so be it — we live in an age of meaningless gestures.

It is important that the debate is concentrated on doing more important things than turning lights off.

We should work towards cleaner base load energy, creating “cradle to cradle” industrial processes, building waste management systems and changing the culture in Australia. These are tougher and more important things to do.

A simple cost-benefit analysis will show that switching off lights on a saturday evening (when the lights should not have been on at all) is not the greatest response to the climate change problem.


7 thoughts on “Sydney Earth Hour : Symbolism or GreenWashing

  1. People are finally heeding the cry for help. Caring about our earth and doing all that we can to save it in any little way helps. I disagree that this is a pointless excercise.

    Why not join in, help make a tiny difference. Not everyone is educated about the impact we have on our environment and how to make a positive contribution towards saving our planet.

    However symbolic, Earth Hour is bringing “Green Focus” into the lives of a large majority of people.

    Shame on you for criticising those who are trying to do a little bit good in this world.

  2. Dear Charlene:

    Every small things count. I agree on that.

    But switching off lights for “one” Saturday evening is not the solution. Will they do it on all saturdays? Even then, what will be the impact of that.

    It is important to bring a green focus as you have suggested. If the Earth Hour does that to residents in Sydney and elsewhere I am happy. But I think it will not be sustainable.

    We need concrete solutions to the problems. We need practical solutions. That was the point of the post.


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