Earth Hour has minimal benefit for our planet

Freedom New Mexico

Forget Earth Hour, this Saturday and into the future. It is a feel-good exercise that does less to save Mother Earth than almost anything we can do. It trivializes the cause it supposedly bolsters: good stewardship of resources.

Earth Hour organizers claim the annual stunt inspires 50 million around the globe to turn off lights for one hour each year on a designated Saturday night. Those with genuine concern for the health and welfare of our planet should worry that an hour of darkness provides little more than nonsubstantive absolution for a year’s worth of environmental guilt. One hour of darkness certainly does nothing to substantially reduce humankind’s carbon footprint.

Changing the behavior of free individuals on a mass scale, even for an hour each year, is an uphill battle. What environmental activists can and should curtail are the wasteful activities of governments.

Below are ideas that could bring about sustainable change, if embraced nationally, to address unproved concerns about human effects on climate change:

• Demand that local-government servants shut off nonessential streetlights. Lobby for modern, efficient, down-directed lights that dramatically reduce power consumption.

• Demand that governments turn up thermostats in buildings during summer months, and turn them down during the winter. Insist on relaxed dress codes for government employees to help facilitate less heating and cooling.

• Suggest that law enforcement agencies strategically position patrol vehicles in order that they may be driven less without enabling crime.

• Demand that government agencies provide no bottled water to employees. Tap water is transported by gravity and uses no packaging. Bottled water travels in plastic containers on trucks. The spent containers end up on trucks, trains and ships, making their way to Chinese factories. They are melted down, and workers inhale the toxic fumes.

• Demand that local, state and federal agencies use the most efficient vehicles possible, driving them several years longer before replacing them.

• Demand that all nonessential computers and lights be turned off at night in local, state and federal buildings.

If humans are harming the planet, they will do less harm by reducing inefficiencies. Governments waste more than private-sector entities, which have a built-in financial incentive to reduce consumption. Before indulging feel-good publicity stunts, environmental activists should demand that public servants exhaust all opportunities to reduce consumption and maximize production. It’s a realistic and achievable goal.