Stars in their eyes–Earth Hour 2008

HOW DO we make governments act on the climate crisis? The organisers of Earth Hour believe “the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour”-at 8pm on March 29-will “deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming”.

It’s true there is a huge gap between the desire of the public for change, and what governments and business are doing to avoid the worsening climate crisis.

And energy conservation and efficiency are good things.

But the focus of Earth Hour on individual efforts to reduce emissions is not enough given the scale of the planet’s crisis. We need a planned energy revolution to cut emissions and start building the post-fossil fuel society.

The idea of Earth Hour is to raise awareness, fundraise for WWF and tell politicians people want change.

But “our leaders” already know that. 2006 was the year when everyone (except committed climate crisis deniers) realised industrial capitalism has created a monster.

Capitalist production is unplanned and wasteful. Manufactured goods have built-in obsolescence to keep us buying regularly and marketing is designed to encourage unnecessary shopping.

Where are the laws to punish companies that produce in this way? Where was the response from government to the recent outcry about the waste in plastic, manufactured from oil, from the sale of bottled water?

State governments are still planning for new power plants to be coal-fired even though we know the amount of emissions they produce. Why aren’t governments shifting to renewable sources of electricity generation?

Perth opened a new rail line last year, which will reduce car dependence. Why aren’t other state governments doing the same?

The Earth Hour website doesn’t mention any of this. In fact it makes no demands on Rudd or state Labor governments.

You won’t be surprised then that it doesn’t encourage us to face the fact that protecting business profits prevents an effective climate policy.

So play along for 60 minutes if you want to see more stars than usual in the city sky. But for real climate action help to end the Iraq oil war, campaign to stop electricity privatisation if you live in NSW, pressurise politicians who support the expansion of the coal export industry or join your local public transport action group.

by Bruce Knobloch

Magazine

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