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Dearth Hour

I’m scared of the dark. Obviously many are emphatically not. Today at 8.30 pm, with the flick of a switch, they are doing the suffering globe a world of good. Are they?

There are 1.3 billion people who cannot turn off the lights. Because they don’t have electricity. I would shudder to tell them that candles are cool. Who can convince them, with a straight face, that their life is ideal and earth-friendly? Were life-saving medicines invented by turning off power? Were jobs created by shutting down factories? Is increasing human life-expectancy decreasing the life of the earth?

The rate of global warming, it appears, is not as alarming as previously claimed. In fact, the past 15 years there has seen no warming. How much of climate change is man-made? And how much can we do about it? It seems, the emissions saved in the humongous, worldwide Earth Hour project is equal to 4 minutes of CO2 emissions by China. And this doesn’t count the amount of power used in propagating this symbolic gesture through advertising and posts on the net.

If, as the latest studies suggest, temperatures would rise by 1˚C for every doubling of atmospheric CO2 over a period of a century, then adapting to it would be painless. What would help in this adaptation is technology, unfettered by government and powered by the cheapest electricity. The unviable-but crowned-as-sustainable Wind and Solar power are too expensive. If we forget cost, even in the next 20 years they would provide but 2% of the electricity required. Fossil fuels have been, and could continue to be, the saviours of human life; not the destroyers of Earth.

Tonight, before you extend that arm to switch on darkness, please pause and think. All ‘good’ intentions may not in reality be good for the human race — for example; forcible sterilisations of the 1970’s, scared of the “Population Bomb;’ or the received wisdom of tonsillectomies for kids a generation ago. If abstinence is the answer to sustenance, then we don’t need science or medicine or industry; just return to a primeval way of life. And hum a plaintive hymn: Lead us from Light unto Darkness.

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