Last Saturday saw the second Earth Hour, whereby the whole world switches off the lights for one hour, as part of a call for action on climate change. Whilst many Greens were keen to support this I have to say that I had mixed feelings. It seems like a gesture to make people feel they are doing something whilst Governments and business carry on as normal. After all, domestic lighting makes a relatively small contribution to climate change compared with many other things.
As it happens I did take part, whilst I was with relatives on a weekend away in the North York Moors. What struck me about the hour however was nothing along the lines of ‘oh, isn’t this a noble thing to do’ but the fact that having a candle as the only source of light made the conversation flow more freely. It seemed a shame to put the lighting back on afterwards.
Greens are often accused of wanting to make people sit in the dark, but this hour struck me as an example of how reduced energy use can actually improve quality of life not reduce it. On a similar note, one of the many good sessions I encountered at the recent Green Party Spring conference in Blackpool, featured the ‘Happy Planet Index’, backed by research from the New Economics Foundation
Incidentally I gather that Manchester rather let the side down as a city (at least according to the Manchester Evening News). Perhaps the sneering comments of a particular MEN commentator a couple of days earlier didn't help...