Had I not received an email about it, I'll confess that Earth Hour might have slipped past me. Lest we forget, the sponsoring World Wildlife Federation's website reminds us: "At 8.30pm on Saturday, March 23, 2013, hundreds of millions of people across the globe will switch off the lights of homes and businesses for one hour -- all in a collective display of commitment to protect the Earth."
Supporters of this annual event include, of course, Al Gore, Yoko Ono, and assorted other glitterati whose private jets and penthouses are no doubt well lighted. Also on the list are Nelson Mandela of South Africa, the president of Fiji, and numerous United Nations officials and third world leaders.
Yet there are skeptics. The Competitive Enterprise Institute sponsors a competing observance it has dubbed "Human Achievement Hour" (HAH), urging people to leave their lights on to express "appreciation for the inventions and innovations that make today the best time to be alive and the recognition that future solutions require individual freedom not government coercion."
In keeping with this notion, on the HAH Facebook page one supporter posted a satellite photo contrasting North and South Korea, the former dark and the latter well electrically lighted. The caption with the photo invites us to "Guess which Korea is free and which is a Stalinist distatorship."
Certainly it is the case that many of Earth Hour's supporters, who bask contentedly in the praise of environmentalists, hail from countries whose people could, actually, do with more in the way of inexpensive and reliable electric power.
In our country, the Rural Electric Administration was created in 1935 for the purpose of bringing electricity to rural areas, such as the Tennessee Valley. Today folks out in the "country," all across the United States, have electric power. In part that's because their parents and grandparents had a different Al Gore. One has to wonder how country folk would fare today, and how they would respond when informed that generation of electricity is not really in the public interest.
So, suffice it to say, it's not so clear that being endarkened on Saturday will show us the way to enlightenment. And, with NCAA basketball on offer, it's a safe bet many will choose March madness over the environmental variety.
On the other hand, as one friend noted, "Earth Hour would be an excellent time to practice defensive handgun tactics in low-light conditions."
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