This Saturday, thousands of people in more than 150 countries will turn off their lights for an hour to spread awareness about climate change. But one libertarian think tank in Washington will be leaving its lights on—and encouraging everyone else to do so too.
Calling its alternative to Earth Hour "Human Achievement Hour," the Competitive Enterprise Institute says Earth Hour sends the wrong message by representing "a rejection of human innovation and progress."
"People are better off when you have abundant, affordable electricity. This should be something to celebrate, not something to make people feel bad about," CEI spokesman Christine Hall tells Whispers.
On the Human Achievement Hour Facebook page, one supporter posted a photo Wednesday that showed North Korea in the dark and South Korea alight with electricity. "Guess which Korea is free and which is a Stalinist dictatorship," the photo's caption reads. "Electricity is good. Choose freedom."
The Facebook page encourages people to have a drink, sing or dance instead of turning off their lights.
A previous Wikipedia page for Human Achievement Hour was deleted after the event caused a backlash from environmental groups.
A recent Slate piece by Bjørn Lomborg, author of the controversial book "The Skeptical Environmentalist," also argued against Earth Hour—but for other reasons. Lomborg argues that Earth Hour may actually increase CO2 emissions because of the "surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward" and because candles are less efficient than many light bulbs.
The World Wide Fund for Nature, which organizes Earth Hour, would not comment on the CEI event but responded to Lomborg's article by arguing that Earth Hour was about more than just turning lights off.
"Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action," wrote Keya Chatterjee, director of WWF's international climate policy in an E-mail. "[It] is an expression of commitment to change beyond the hour."