There is this huge take on of the Earth Hour campaign here in Malaysia, with mainstream newspapers and NGOs proclaiming support.
As with all things popular in society, I’d like to think there is always an alternative view, and I’d like to offer one. Whether it makes sense or not, you decide.
So, we are encouraged to turn off our lights for an hour… why? To encourage governments to make policy changes to reduce global warming. In their own words:
WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard. – EarthHour.org
Lets get some facts straight.
- Global warming is real. The weather in this world is changing.
- Yes, the world we live in is uses and releases (since energy can’t be created nor destroyed), more and more energy than ever before. The world is getting warmer.
The question is:
- How much warmer is the world actually getting?
- Is the actual warming of the world harmful?
- Is global warming really going to destroy the world?
A little googling shows that while global warming is real, scientists’ predictions of what’s going to happen, have fallen short, way short of what they predicted. Imagine this, since 1997, the world temperature has gone up by an average of 0.5 F. Not really much at all, compared to a prediction of 10 – 25 Farenheit in a few decades.
Here are two (of many) links you can find details on why global warming is more marketing gumbo than fact.
I’m inclined to think the whole hype about Earth Hour is latent desire in everyone to be part of something big. There was a time when the whole earth disobeyed God’s command to ‘fill the earth’ by sticking together and wanting to ‘build a tower to the heavens’ – the tower of Babel [Gen 11:1-9]. God confused their language and the people could not unite and they split.
The internet and the new media has opened a way for people to do things together again. I’m not comparing this to building a tower of Babel, but mankind has found new ways of communicating with one another across borders again. Fantastic. So what do we use these wonderful tools for? Honestly, to do silly stuff – updating Facebook statuses, Twittering, telling people what you had for lunch, how drunk you are, irresponsible expressions of though…, getting people to turn of lights for an hour. All this is simply the forming of pseudo-communities which are people who align themselves without going through the real process of forming meaningful and performing communities (as proposed by Bruce Tuckman (1965)):
- Forming (pretending to get on or get along with others);
- Storming (letting down the politeness barrier and trying to get down to the issues even if tempers flare up );
- Norming (getting used to each other and developing trust and productivity);
- Performing (working in a group to a common goal on a highly efficient and cooperative basis).
With a pseudo-community, we have a more superficial community where everyone’s polite, nobody steps on each other’s toes, and we can hide emotions and expressions behind pixels.
This is so unlike the attitude of the apostle John when he writes to the ‘elect lady’ and Gaius in 2 and 3 John where he says “Having many things to write to you, I would not with paper and ink; but hope to come to you, and to speak mouth to mouth, that our joy may be full.”
I like the perspective James Butler puts on it when he says
…A clean cut community where it’s easy to chose our friends, easy to keep a safe distant, easy to hide behind pixels, easy to keep it impersonal. So are the pseudo communities feeding our selfism?
There is so much more joy in speaking face to face, than there is in twittering and leaving text messages and emails, but also there a cost involved to reach that stage of communion. The new media provides a way to circumvent this.
Back to Earth Hour-ism, what I’m getting at is that, out of that 1 billion, how many are among those who are actively involved in reducing the effects of global warming? I would suggest that many of the people will turn off the lights because of the influence of group dynamics, to be among the idunnits.
Is one hour really enough? After the hype is gone, and the world has turned on its lights at 2131 hrs, what happens? We go back and drive our 4.0l SUVs and drive to the hypermart which is walking distance from our homes. We turn on the air condition all night. We use batteries for our MP3 players and toss them into the trash. We leave the shower running while we soap during baths. We put on our cyber-identities and go online to blab and boast about how cool that one dark hour was, fuelling the great demand for silicon and unrecyclable materials used in making computers.
I’m not interested in knowing how many will turn off their lights for an hour.
I’m interested in how many…
- who will start being responsible with God given resources, electricity, water, gas.
- who are Christians will start living as lights among men who live daily in a world of spiritual darkness.
Are my lights going to be on this Saturday from 2030 to 2130 hrs?
YES. Because we’re having our Young Adults meeting at church! The great commission to make disciples beckons!