Do you plan on sitting in the dark this Saturday night?
Around the world, people will make the symbolic gesture of showing they support a cleaner world and lower-carbon lifestyle by raising their carbon output.
Earth Hour, started in 2007, encourages people to show their support for the planet by turning their lights off and enjoying the world by candlelight. The problem, of course, is for most Canadians that means turning off a low-carbon energy source and burning pure fossil fuels.
The absurdity is likely lost on most professional environmentalists.
Most candles sold in this country are made from paraffin, a byproduct of refining crude oil. Most electricity in Canada comes from either nuclear power or hydroelectricity, both sources that don’t really emit much in the way of those evil greenhouse gases.
Now, I actually want to live in a country with clean air, clean water and clean soil to grow food in, but I fail to see how sitting in the dark for an hour once a year actually accomplishes this.
The real push for Earth Hour, of course, is to get people to stop using evil fossil fuels. The fact that little of our electricity comes from fossil fuels in Canada doesn’t bother the backers of this daft movement, so I’m guessing the fact that stopping the use of fossil fuels would kill our economy doesn’t bother the activists either.
Earth Hour is only one small step beyond Slacktivism, the kind of protest you express by changing your Facebook status to show you support cancer research but doesn’t require a donation, or putting a Free Tibet bumper sticker on your car without sending the Tibetans bullets.
If people really wanted to cut back on their emissions to the point that it would make a dramatic impact, they would stop driving their cars to work and stop buying all the latest gadgets like the iPad 2, which require electricity plus lots of plastics made from oil and precious metals mined around the world.
But that would be inconvenient and if enough of us did it and we started making an impact on our greenhouse gas emissions, then governments across the country would embark on another massive “stimulus” program to get the economy moving.
Canada’s economy is intricately tied to fossil fuels, a fact illustrated by two seemingly unrelated events on Wednesday. Saskatchewan’s provincial government tabled a budget that included a surplus of government revenue, tax cuts, increased health-care spending and a cut in the price of beer. Premier Brad Wall was able to do that due to Saskatchewan’s oil and gas revenues. The province, like Alberta, is benefiting from a boom in the oil business.
Around the same time in Gatineau, Que., the federal government was signing a deal with Premier Jean Charest that will open up exploration for oil in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and turn Quebec from a have-not province into one rich in oil revenue.
Add in the fact that more people in Ontario are employed providing machinery and other support services for Alberta’s oilsands than the oilsands themselves employ and you begin to realize Canada really is an economy built on fossil fuels.
Lots of people don’t like this and they want it to change.
Of course come Saturday night, they’ll be turning off their lights and boosting their carbon footprint.
— Lilley will host his own show, Byline, on Sun News Network