Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leave The Lights On

What kind of perverse mentality thinks that switching off lights for an hour is a worthy tribute to this beautiful planet we live on? Two billion people don't even have access to electricity and some self-appointed eco-fundamentalists tell us to switch the lights off 'for the Earth'. Are they serious? We spent untold millennia as a species huddled in the dark, fearful of the unseen - yet these people want us to go back to darkness? We insult our ancestors and our fellow human beings still living in the dark with this ludicrous stunt. It's disgusting.

Electric light must surely rank as one of the most beneficial technological achievements of our species. The tragedy is that too many still do not share in that achievement. But they can and they will if we apply our human ingenuity, passion and ambition to the task. As the poet Frederick Turner (whom I've quoted before) puts it:
In economics, we are recognizing the exponential power of markets to generate wealth. Now that we have a global economy, the wealth of the average individual person on this planet doubles every twenty years or so, and our average life-expectancy is now doubling every century. ... The world is not a zero-sum game, but rather a great cascade of gifts; if we lack for anything it is because of a lack of knowledge, not an unavailability of goods. Our problems are those of cash flow, scheduling, bottlenecks and distribution, so to speak, not of the basic health of the balance sheet. We are threatened not by scarcity but glut. If we did not get in each others’ way by bad and over-controlling governments and ideas, we would all be rich.
Sure we're in a recession. But guess what? It will end - just like they all do. And the glories that we have achieved as one of our planet's most delightful species will still be there, ultimately available to every human being. Let the stories our ancestors told one another in the dark continue to unfold. So Just leave the lights on.

And celebrate Human Achievement Hour instead:

6 comments:

  1. you truly are a beacon of light in these dark times.

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  2. call me naive but as the breaking news website puts it the Earth Hour is: "part of a universal effort to show that it is possible to take action against climate change." I think you are characterising it as a luddite protest as if people are anti-electricity which in my view is not the case at all. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that, apart from one more point.. as I see it nobody is 'telling' anybody to switch off their lights, people's participation is completely voluntary. Peace,
    Holbrook.

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  3. What are you on about Gerard?

    It's not about saving electricity, that's just a token side effect. It's to show that a call to arms can still work.

    As for us being one of our planet's most delightful species? I would love to know how you come up with that theory.

    IMO we're parasites, as we consume so much *stuff* that we're putting the very planet itself in danger.

    Of course manufacturing and buying more *stuff* is what we're being told is needed to pull ourselves out of this economic recession. That in itself will damage our environment even more.

    We need a sustainable economy, and a sustainable environment. They cannot be mutually exclusive anymore.

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  4. Reading McNeill's Plagues and People at the moment. Even reading chapter 1 alone would give good perspective on who or what is a parasite and what constitutes a most remarkable species.

    I don't think it's ridiculously diplomatic to suggest that humanity is indeed both a parasite and one of the planet's most delightful species. What's the problem with parasites? All life is parasitic.

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  5. Ronan, could you explain how all life is parasitic?

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  6. Oh for fecks sake, would you just accept that humans are selfish crapulent insignificant muppets that really should be culled. We can't even manage our own population within the resources at our disposal, we will get exactly what we deserve, a slow, painfull, drawn out descent into extinction at our own hand, primarily courtesy of the progress you hail as our greatest achievement.

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