March 17 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment Year: 2009 Rating: 2
Can you get 1 billion people to turn off their lights at the same time?* Maybe.
It's a powerful idea that seems to be gaining momentum city by city. The World Wildlife Fund is asking individuals, businesses, governments and organizations around the world to turn off their lights for one hour Earth Hour to make a global statement of concern about climate change and to demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.
Last year, an estimated 15 million people in cities around the world voluntarily turned off their lights, and organizers hope for a billion in 2009 to raise awareness about the link between our energy consumption and environmental impact.
What's after Consuming Green?
'Continue reading below' for my take on the need to balance these 'consuming green' efforts with a global strategy centered on industry level change based on new energy science.
Why we need to stop treating people like 'consumers' and talk to them about science:
I am a big fan of Earth Hour!!
So this is not a target against their vision or efforts!
Raising awareness is always the first step, and I am supportive of mass social action around energy and the environment.
But what type of awareness is needed? Is the focus on 'What you can do as a consumer?' or should it be 'What we need to do as a society'?
Enough of talking to people only as Consumers who have the power to turn off lights.
Enough of side-stepping the real challenges ahead as the global economy prepares to double energy consumption and integrate 3 billion more people into the planet by 2050.
Enough with feel good 'turn off your lights', 'change your light bulb' campaigns.
Stop trying to answer the question: 'What can I do' to stop climate change because the answers are misleading and ineffective when confronted with global realities.
True awareness is knowing that we cannot 'buy ourselves' a greener future. First steps are great, but I don't understand the follow up message! Otherwise, it feels like Live Aid. Consumers did not lead to long term shifts in that arena.
We must change how industries function.
We must change how our the global economy uses energy.
And no Walmart, Target or Whole Foods shopper is going to lead the charge.
We need more awareness campaigns that properly frame the global nature of this transition in our energy technologies. If we expect to see leadership around energy and the environment we must give them the tools to change policy.
This is a multi-decade long transition that will based on our ability to return to basic energy science and master molecules in a way that allows us to stop extracting energy, and instead capture and store it ourselves.
I'm excited for Earth Hour. It will be a powerful moment. But so was Live Aid and not all those social ills have been resolved.
'Consuming less' is not a solution, but it is a first step. Next year we should have an Earth Energy Science Week! And stop treating people like consumers by touching their hearts and wallets, and instead engage their minds.