Apr 1, 2009

That's It, I've Had It

Earth Hour 2009 finally pushed me over the edge. Anyone who hasn't been living in a cave knows about global warming and how we should all do our part to avert impending disaster.

I've been skeptical of the hype for some time, but life is short and until now I've felt I had other battles to attend.

But matters have gotten out of hand. Earth Hour started out as an entirely voluntary, highly symbolic expression of environmental concern. In astonishingly short order, however, it has morphed into something approaching a civic duty.

My hydro bill arrived two days after Earth Hour. But printed below my "daily usage" graph is the following:

Participate in Earth Hour by turning off all your lights on March 28 between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. To learn more, visit www.earthhourcanada.org/

That web address belongs to the World Wildlife Fund. The WWF describes itself as "one of the country's leading conservation organizations, enjoying the active support of more than 150,000 Canadians."

33 million people live in Canada. The WWF is, let's admit it, merely one among hundreds of groups devoted to good causes. So why is my public utility - the Toronto Hydro Electric System - promoting the activities of this particular lobby group?

The most recent issue of NOW, a free Toronto entertainment weekly, has a full-page ad inside its front cover promoting a free Earth Hour music concert. The ad was paid for, apparently, by the WWF and the City of Toronto. "Switch off & sign up at EarthHourCanada.org" it reads.

Given the enormous media coverage, why would additional government funds be spent on the promotion of such activities? The Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper, didn't write an article or two, it published an Earth Hour section.

At the top of the online version there's an ad for, you guessed it, the WWF. The page contains prominent links to dozens of stories published by The Star during the weeks leading up to Earth Hour. Then there's an additional 17 articles by columnists and guest writers ranging from Margaret Atwood (novelist) to Robert Bateman (painter) to Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Nobel laureate).

The headlines on these articles leave no room for doubt or debate. They refer to the "moral aspect of climate change," the "apocalypse" of urban sprawl, and warn that we have mere hours to "prevent climate disaster."

One guest essay, titled "On a Leap of Faith," bears this as its subtitle:
If we stop flying and shipping, take bicycles to work and slash electricity use, would we sidestep the predicted environmental catastrophe? We don't know...But it would be immoral not to try.
I'm very sorry, but all of this amounts to hysteria. It really is time that sensible people started speaking up and pushing back.