Let there be light

March 29, 2014

Tonight some people will be celebrating Earth Hour by turning off their lights.

Some won’t because they don’t have lights to start with.

Others could but won’t.

Among the latter group is Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph.

In 2009 I was asked by a journalist for my thoughts on the importance of Earth Hour.

Here is my response.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores.

Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely
impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. Many of the world’s poor suffer brutal environmental conditions in their own homes because of the necessity of cooking over indoor fires that burn twigs and dung. This causes local deforestation and the proliferation of smoke- and parasite-related lung diseases.

Anyone who wants to see local conditions improve in the third world should realize the importance of access to cheap electricity from fossil-fuel based power generating
stations. After all, that’s how the west developed.

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I
celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity. Earth Hour celebrates ignorance,
poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off
there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature . I hope they leave their lights on.

Here in Ontario, through the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks. I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

Let there be light and heat and all the other benefits electricity brings us and let those who wish to make change a reality find a more positive and useful way to do it.

Celebrating Human Achievement Hour could be a good way to start.

Hat tip: Carpe Diem

 

 


Visiting is fine, living there’s a backward step

March 27, 2011

Quote of the week:

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its trade offs is something to be ashamed of.

Ross McKitrick, Professor of Economics, University of Guelphon on Earth Hour at Eye to the Long Run.


Shining light on human achievement

March 26, 2011

Let the luddites light their candles for Earth Hour.

The aim of treading lightly on the earth is a worthy one but I’d rather shine a light on human achievement.

I won’t go as far as Lucia Maria at NZ Conservative  who calls it turn on all the lights night.

I’d rather follow Motella in celebrating human achievement  . Although like Poneke, who reminds us that North Korea has “Earth Hour” all night every night, I will neither be using more or less power than I normally do.

I’ll simply be grateful for the many leaps of science and imagination which bring light and other improvements to our world.

Without them I wouldn’t have been able to read Will Type for Food where Tim T writes he isn’t submitting this poem  to the Earth Hour poems’ page:

The light is off I cannot see
The thingo where I write my verse
The whatsit I just stumbled on
That made me curse. . . 

Tim has more poems for earth hour, the first of which starts: And the second which beings

I think that I shall never see
After that tragic and avoidable incident during during Earth Hour . . .  

March 29 in history

March 29, 2010

On March 29:

1461 Battle of Towton – Edward of York defeated Queen Margaret to become King Edward IV of England.

 
Roses-York victory.svg

1549 Salvador da Bahia, the first capital of Brazil, was founded.


Flag

1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain was signed, returning Quebec to French control after the English had seized it in 1629.

1638 Swedish colonists established the first settlement in Delaware, naming it New Sweden.

1790 John Tyler, 10th President of the United States, was born.

1792 King Gustav III of Sweden died after being shot in the back at a midnight masquerade ball 13 days earlier.

1799 New York passed a law aimed at gradually abolishing slavery in the state.

1799 Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

1806 Construction was authorised of the Great National Pike, better known as the Cumberland Road, the first United States federal highway.

 

1809 King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden abdicated after a coup d’état. 

 

1809 At the Diet of Porvoo, Finland’s four Estates pledged allegiance to Alexander I of Russia, commencing the secession of the Grand Duchy of Finland from Sweden.

 

1831 Great Bosnian uprising: Bosniak rebel against Turkey.

1847 Mexican-American War: United States forces led by General Winfield Scott took Veracruz after a siege.

Battle of Veracruz.jpg

1849 The United Kingdom annexed the Punjab.

1857 Sepoy Mangal Pandey of the 34th Regiment, Bengal Native Infantry revolted against the British rule in India and inspired a long-drawn War of Independence of 1857 also known as the Sepoy Mutiny.

Mangal pandey gimp.jpg

1865 American Civil War: The Battle of Appomattox Court House began.

 

1867 Queen Victoria gave Royal Assent to the British North America Act which established the Dominion of Canada on July 1.

1870 Pavlos Melas, Greek officer who organized and participated in the Greek Struggle for Macedonia, was born.

Pavlos Melas.jpg

1871 The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria.

 

1879 Anglo-Zulu War: Battle of Kambula: British forces defeated 20,000 Zulus.

Défense de Rorke's Drift.jpg

1882 The Knights of Columbus were established.

1886 Dr John Pemberton brewed the first batch of Coca-Cola in a backyard in Atlanta, Georgia.

1900 John McEwen, eighteenth Prime Minister of Australia, was born.

1902 William Walton, English composer, was born.

1911 The M1911 .45 ACP pistol became the official U.S. Army side arm.

Mid-1945 produced M1911A1 U.S. Army semi-automatic pistol by Remington Rand. This one was re-built by Anniston Army Depot, October 1972, and carries the ANAD 1072 stamp. The cartridges shown are the .45 ACP (left) and 7.65 mm Browning/.32 ACP (right).

1916 Eugene McCarthy, American politician, was born.

1930 Heinrich Brüning was appointed German Reichskanzler.

1936 In Germany, Adolf Hitler received 99% of the votes in a referendum to ratify Germany’s illegal reoccupation of the Rhineland, receiving 44.5 million votes out of 45.5 million registered voters.

1941 World War II: British Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy forces defeated those of the Italian Regia Marina off the Peloponnesus coast of Greece in the Battle of Cape Matapan.

1942 Nazi sabotage hoax – career criminal Sydney Ross met the minister of national service, Robert Semple, in Wellington and claimed he had been approached by a German agent to join a sabotage cell and that Nazi agents had landed by submarine and were living at Ngongotaha, Rotorua. Ross was taken to see Prime Minister Peter Fraser, who referred the matter to Major Kenneth Folkes, a British intelligence officer brought to New Zealand to set up the Security Intelligence Bureau.

1942 The Bombing of Lübeck  was the first major success for the RAF Bomber Command against Germany and a German city.

 

1943 Eric Idle, English actor, writer, and composer, was born.

1943 Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was born.

Head and shoulders of man in suit with grey hair in side parting, wearing large glasses with brown frame.

1943 Vangelis, Greek musician and composer, was born.

1945  Last day of V-1 flying bomb attacks on England.

 

1957 The New York, Ontario and Western Railway made its final run.

"NYOW diesel locomotive 104" 

1961 The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to vote in presidential elections.

 

1963 Elle Macpherson, Australian model, was born.

1968 Lucy Lawless, New Zealand actress and singer, was born.

 

1971 – A Los Angeles, California jury recommended the death penalty for Charles Manson and three female followers.

1973 Vietnam War: The last United States combat soldiers left South Vietnam.

1974 NASA’s Mariner 10 became the first spaceprobe to fly by Mercury.

 

1982 The Telegu Desam Party (India’s regional political party) was established by N. T. Rama Rao.

 
TDPFlag.PNG

1982 – The Canada Act 1982 (U.K.) received the Royal Assent from Queen Elizabeth II, setting the stage for the Queen of Canada to proclaim the Constitution Act, 1982.

1987 WrestleMania III set a world indoor attendance record at the Pontiac Silverdome with 93,173 fans.

1993 Catherine Callbeck became premier of Prince Edward Island and Canada’s first female to be elected in a general election as a premier.

1999 The Dow Jones Industrial Average closesdabove the 10,000 mark (10,006.78) for the first time ever, during the height of the internet boom.

A historical graph. From a starting point of under 50 in the late 1890s to a high reached above 14,000 in the late 2000s, the Dow rises periodically through the decades with corrections along the way eventually settling in the mid-10,000 range within the last 10 years. 

2004 Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO as full members.

2004 The Republic of Ireland becomes the first country in the world to ban smoking in all work places, including bars and restaurants.

 

2008 35 Countries & more 370 cities joined Earth Hour for the first time.

 

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Celebrating neither Earth nor Edison Hours

March 27, 2010

Worshippers of the green gods will be turning off their lights for Earth Hour tonight while others will be powering up to celebrate Edison Hour.

I’ll be doing neither – using no more and no less electricity than I normally do.

The greenwash of Earth Hour doesn’t wash with me but deliberately wasting resources as Edison Hour will makes neither environmental nor economic sense.

I know what it’s like to live without power, albeit only part time. I spent 10 months on Great Mercury Island the diesel generator which provided our electricity ran for only eight hours a day.

I much prefer having power 24 hours a day but I’m not going to waste it.


Spot the irony and omissions

March 29, 2009

I thought I’d finished with earth hour until I read this:

It starts with:

New Zealand’s power consumption dropped by 3.5 percent last night, as a record number of candle-wielding kiwis flicked the switch for Earth Hour.

But fails to draw the link between candles and carbon.

Continues with:

Most major New Zealand cities backed the event, with free concerts and entertainment helping to pull in the crowds.

Without questioning the fuel used to get people to these concerts and the power used in the sound systems.

Then concludes with:

And while Transpower says the warmer weather could have contributed to the drop-off in power usage, there is no doubt that that Earth Hour had an effect.

But it fails to ask if there was any change in power usage either side of earth hour which might indicate people used more electricity before and after it as Andrew Landeryou   (Hat Tip: Not PC) showed:

Don’t they teach journalists to ask questions any more?

Did you see the light/dark?

March 29, 2009

Did you see the light dark last night?

TV3 showed us the lights on the Sky Tower going out (and also lots of candles burning).

The Herald declared Earth Hour a success but Keeping Stock reckoned that was a Tui truth.

Around other blogs this morning:

Zen Tiger at NZ Conservative has a much better idea for dirt day once a week

Psycho Milt at No Minister had some family learning opportunities

And some I missed last night:

A seven year old speaks sense at M&M

Dave Gee switched on for sanity hour

Roarprawn declared it a crock

Oswald Bastable switched on everything

Mr Dennis lit up too.


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