Mar 27, 2010

Don't turn off the lights..


Reams of News rolls and megabytes of celebrity endorsements have managed to get our Mother One Hour.
Yes, It is finally that day of the year when we decide to turn off the lights and all things electrical.

Its Earth hour today and in India, its from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

What struck me as odd was one particular comment made by famous Bangalore choreographer, when he said ".. I plan to lock up my house and hang out with my friends at a pub."
So does he not already do that on Weekends?!

We take and we take, all that we are and we consume and aspire to consume come from our Earth. It is not like we are importing any of the raw materials from Mars or Jupiter. Much to the chagrin of most manufacturers, the Earth is not a bottomless pit of good stuff.
While we have the luxury of electricity for our smallest needs, there are scores and millions of villages in India, where its Earth Hour every hour of every day (Except during elections).
To our poorer village cousins, this eloquent exercise of turning off our dependence on electricity is a fancy way to show off. Pretty much like how we (most ordinary Indians) think when Millionaires and Hollywood A listers decide to donate $20,000 to charity. 'Argh, whats the use?'
Right from the moment we wake up, why even when we are asleep, we are an ungrateful lot of consumers. We pretend that climate change and consumerism is not linked and prefer to bludgeon the poorer in our nation suffer.

Amidst all this brouhaha of coercing people to turn off the lights for 1 hour, how much are we changing?
Its not like we are going to shut down the internet servers or the air conditioning or stop traveling on vehicles that guzzle fossil fuels or even stop our single minded determination to plunder Earth in as many ways.

Its just 1 hour. 60 minutes. That's how much we managed to negotiate. I've heard of 8 minute abs, but 60 minutes? Are you kidding me?

Lights off will not lead to less energy being pumped into the grid and experts question any savings that this worldwide effort will contribute. Infact, in an event that will probably see at least 50 million people participating, experts consider any savings or a dip in demand to be wiped off by the significant surge of energy required to fire up thermal and gas stations after the global initiative.


However, its the thought that counts. But poor levels of awareness and acute dependence on anything electrical fails the purpose.
An average American that I spoke to didn't know what the 'Earth Hour' was. She was aghast at the concept and wondered how the world'll communicate and thought that 1 hour was "excessive"

I've got nothing against campaigns that herald change, but a globe that is divided yet united by our dependence on fossil fuels, no campaign is strong enough as the changing the way we live, travel and work.
Many drops make an ocean, perhaps we need to understand that many rivers make a ocean.

We cannot let our ignorance absolve us of our civic duties.
I fail to understand how our media loves to pick and choose what they want us to know. Within moments of the death of Micheal Jackson, Millions around the world wept and grieved, but 3 years on, ordinary Americans are woefully unaware of the Earth Hour.
An entire month was dedicated to playing hits of Micheal Jackson, but our Mother gets just 1 hour.

We have only ourselves to blame for the way we live.We leave our computers switched on at the end of the day. Why can't we spare a few seconds to turn off the monitor.
We like to let that fan running, that air conditioner cooling, and that lights turned on even when we are not in the room for long. Sure we can afford to pay our utility bills, but do we ever realize that what we are wasting is something that we could have saved but will never come back? The light that I left on, all night, just deprived another family of its energy needs.

All is not lost though and like diamonds in the rough, we have rare examples of people who are getting increasingly eco conscious. Its a small movement but a momentous beginning. Patches of communities off Las Vegas and other parts of the world who live off the grid, generating their own power using solar and geothermal energy, growing their food and living a eco friendly life that can be sustained.

Doomsday predictions will come true, not because God wants us to suffer, but because we are living off a planet that ain't getting any richer or bigger. Unlike businesses that expand, our Earth is not going to magically merge with another planet.

Climate change has its proponents and opponents. Most in the developed world think the current climate change is part of an ongoing cycle of how the earth is. They quote ancient ice ages and warmer times as their defense, but conveniently forget that every major change in global climate wiped off almost all of its inhabitants. Probably, they haven't been to villages and towns in countries like South America, Africa and Asia. Climate change is a reality here. And we cannot wish it away.

Come to think of it, the Earth is pretty much like most Indian voters. Our elected leaders stoop to conquer and once they get the seat, they are pretty much on a rampage. We get plundered and they get rich. We are helpless until the next election.
We plunder and loot the earth we live in, and all is hunky dory until that drought or unexpected flooding hits us. We won't bother to check our abuse until we are hit with a natural disaster.
'Every dog has it's day'

But of course, most of us live in a cocooned life of existence that is on autopilot.
And as always, we believe bad things like this will happen only to other people.

If I could have a slogan, I would say:

STOP! Go Slow. Earth in desperate need of your corrective ACTion.

For now, Enrique could croon away ... "Don't turn off the lights...."

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