Lights Out?

The recent “lights out” campaign was intended to energize public opinion about the problems of climate change by urging citizens in 27 big cities to turn out their lights for an hour. But, as has become typical of environmental debates, no one pointed out that the event was immensely futile, and that it caused much higher overall pollution.

RIO DE JANEIRO – When it comes to all things “green, ” common sense seems to have been abandoned. Our failure to think clearly about such matters would be amusing if the potential consequences were not so serious.

Consider the recent “lights out” campaign that supposedly should energize the world about the problems of climate change by urging citizens in 27 big cities to turn out their lights for an hour. With scores of companies and municipalities signing up, and even the monarchies of Denmark and Sweden turning off the lights in their many palaces, the World Wildlife Fund quickly called it an amazing success. Newspapers around the world dutifully wrote feel-good stories about how engaged environmentalists celebrated as the lights went out around the world.

Nobody, it seemed, wanted to spoil the party by pointing that the event was immensely futile, that it highlighted a horrible metaphor, or that it caused much higher overall pollution.

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