I’ve got to confess that I didnt’t really get very excited about the Earth Hour that turned off the power across Sydney last Saturday night. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m keen to see our world preserved from the impending sauna we face unless we stop our CO2 omissions and other factors leading to global warming. But, I’m not really sure that the stunt on Saturday night will make a difference.

Part of the reason behind my Gen X scepticism is that I expect that many of the participants in this event will probably make few, if any, changes to the way they live and work. People, generally, have grown too accustomed to their creature comforts. We want our air conditioning, the ‘stand by’ on the photocopier, and every other energy-hungry perk we can utilise. We’re happy to wear the t-shirt, but will we really sacrifice our pleasures?

Now I might really sound like a child of the ‘greed-is-good’ 80s, but I think that the only way we will really stop people wasting electricity is if there is a financial incentive. We need to charge businesses and individuals more for power, and probably sign onto a form of carbon credit system. Obviously we will need to protect the poor through means-tested discounted electricity, but if we made power more expensive then perhaps people might naturally start to buy solar hot water heating, and choose to live in houses with eaves and thick walls instead of paper-thin houses that require huge air conditioners.

Earth Hour had some use. It provided education and awareness. But without ongoing financial ‘encouragement’, I suspect most of the citizens of our self-centred world will continue to suck the energy from the grid, whether or not they bought an ‘Earth Hour’ t-shirt.

« »