NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Earth Hour Is Nice Gesture, but Does Little

March 28, 2011

If everyone in the world participated in this year's Earth Hour, the result would be the same as turning off China's carbon emissions for roughly 45 seconds, says Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center at Copenhagen Business School.

  • When we switch off the electricity, many of us turn to candlelight.
  • This seems natural and environmentally friendly, but unfortunately, candles are almost 100 times less efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and more than 300 times less efficient than fluorescent lights.
  • Using one candle for each extinguished bulb cancels the carbon dioxide reduction; two candles emit more carbon dioxide.

In a bid to cut carbon emissions, the environmental movement has pushed for "green" alternative energy to be used around the world.  Many countries now provide financial support to solar panels and wind turbines.  It's easy to feel as if we're helping the planet if we have a government-funded solar panel on the roof, or fill our car with fuel from a tank adorned with green slogans -- but the reality is that we're doing no such thing, says Lomborg.

It is time to look to a smarter solution to global warming that would do more than just make us feel good about ourselves.  Reducing carbon emissions is a lot more difficult than dimming the lights for an hour.

Source: Bjorn Lomborg, "'Earth Hour' Won't Change the World," USA Today, March 23, 2011.

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