Forget Earth Hour And Do Something Useful Instead

This Saturday marks the annual Earth Hour event, a largely meaningless piece of slacktivism where people pretend that one hour of environmental posing by switching off lights is more important than long-term behavioural change. Ignore the candle crusade and do something over the weekend that will have a more permanent environmental impact.

If you're going out on a Saturday night, then Earth Hour is largely meaningless anyway. If you're staying in, consider the following more useful permanent tactics rather than sitting around feeling smug in the dark:

  • Configure power management properly on your PC. Unless you're a frequent notebook user, chances are you haven't taken advantage of the power management options in most modern OSes. Setting them sensibly can make a permanent difference to your power usage.
  • Try and stop using multiple monitors. Yes, modern LCDs use a lot less power than old-style CRTs. On the other hand, three of them still uses way more power than one.
  • Apply environmental criteria to your gadget purchases. Gadget purchases are often irrational (how else to explain people signing up to buy iPhones without knowing the plan cost?) Greenpeace's gadget rankings provide more solid reasons to shun or support particular products. You can also apply similar logic to your car.


    If everyone stops breathing that will reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    After all, isnt that what the emissions tax is? A tax on breathing.
    We have always said "One day the government will tax us for the air we breath." Well, they cant tax us for air, but they want to tax us for what we breath out.

    Thankyou Lifehacker AU! It is great to see at least one form of media that is being realistic. It takes DAYS to run up the coal fired generators in Vic, so you can be darn certain they dont turn them off for 1 hour!

    They are hardly being realistic. Earth Hour encourages awareness of the issue.

    Agreed though, just doing that, and somehow claiming gratification is complete crap.

    Turn off the second fridge and celebrate many earth hours instead.

    Yes! Thank you!

    The amount of hot air that's produced by this Earth Hour nonsense is phenomenal. It's a thinly veiled marketing campaign promoting the interests of its sponsors.

    Awareness was achieved the first time, enough is enough.

    In the spirit of doing something useful...
    * Stop buying bottled water
    * Put a "no junk mail" sticker on your mailbox
    * Read the newspaper online instead of buying one
    * Lobby authorities/companies for more sensible building and street lighting design and usage
    * Put _one_ big red annoying flashing ad on your website instead of _four_ big red annoying flashing ads for the same thing ;)

    That first paragraph is a cracking critique of the flawed Earth Hour idea. Nice work Angus!

    Last year we went down to Williamstown Pier in Melbourne to watch the lights turn off - we barely noticed a thing! On the way home, we noticed a Williamstown McMansion with no fewer than 50 halogen down-lights on...!

    Personally I used to run two PCs 24/7, I recently transferred responsibilities from one to the other and now I can get away with just one. I also upgraded the components on the 24/7 box, so they're more efficient. A small difference, but it's a year long saving.

    I've made just about every other change I possibly can in our rental property (without breaching the lease), the changes are so simple, it's a shame many people don't even try.

    I never really understood how "Earth Hour" helps the planet.

    Last time they invited people into parks in the night. Most of them used cars to get there. In the park they used battery operated flash lights (as if batteries do not pollute the planet).

    Yes, setting your computer power mode and switching off (or hibernating) your office computer overnight could be making a bigger change then turning off the office lights for an hour or sitting in the park.

    Well as a Perth resident we did our bit after a 14-hour blackout in our suburb. The kids had a great time with our hastily-improvised dinner picnic on the living room floor with candles and a torch.

    But in other news, in the last few months I have been switching off our entertainment system and computer system at the wall overnight, meaning a one third reduction in the standby power - sure it might not be much but every little helps.

    I think you're all reading too much into Earth Hour. Yes, turning off the lights for an hour doesn't make any significant difference. The point is to raise awareness of global warning and get people thinking about the issues.

    That's true.
    However Earth Hour is more about getting the message out. It was from the first Earth Hour that started that my father decided to replace all the light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.

    And in my family at least we use minimal lights; turn off lights when we aren't using it even if we are just going to the toilet - more because my dad wants to save on the bill instead of the environment.

    Wow, edgy. I look forward to your next reality check:

    April 25 marks the annual Anzac Day event, a largely meaningless piece of slacktivism where people pretend that one hour of pacifist posing by attending dawn service is more important than long-term behavioural change. Ignore the candle crusade and do something over the weekend that will have a more permanent impact on world peace.

    Or maybe you could think a little harder about the power of symbols.

      Fred, your analogy is flawed. Earth Hour is activism (or slacktivism), Anzac Day is a commemoration. A vast difference that you should be able to identify.

      Earth Hour is generally followed in one of three ways;
      1. The 'green choir' turn all of their lights off (they don't need to, as they're already doing everything they can.
      2. The 'wannabes' switch their lights off for 60 minutes, then turn them all back on again because Earth Hour is finished.
      3. People who haven't heard of Earth Hour or don't give a s$&@.

      The people falling into category 2 attract the slacktivism tag, because they thing they're doing something good for the world, but when they put their 72" TVs and central heating back on and drive to work in one of two SUVs, they prove Angus' point...

    Angus, you forgot to include as a tip to reduce unnecessary plane travel by using technology appropriately, with options as videoconference, instant messaging and remote desktop sharing.

    Despite being a fan of Earth Hour, I have agreed with the criticism that Earth Hour gives the impression that one hour of turning out the lights per year is sufficient action (although that is certainly not the message that was intended). This is why I am glad that the 2010 theme is 'Earth hour Every Hour'.

    If you feel you have to choose between 'doing something useful' and attending an Earth Hour event, sure, please do something useful!

    But if you can handle juggling both attending an Earth Hour event *and* doing something useful, please try both! At previous events I have enjoyed environment-themed conversations that I would otherwise miss out on (shy, not a conversation starter), made wonderful discoveries about how else to lessen my footprint, and received support from others on making the transition. It is an opportunity to encourage each other, share ideas, develop a community to get these eco-friendly actions snowballing. Taking action is so much easier when you have the support of friends and family to give you a boost!

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