Light Up 'Earth Hour'

Environmentalists seem to forget that electricity is a sign human progress.


One of the great intellectual conflicts of the early part of the 21st century concerns the role of man here on planet Earth. Some, like the followers of Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich--author of The Population Bomb--hold that mankind’s role boils down to that of exploiter of the Earth’s resources and despoiler of its natural beauty.

This view, widely accepted in western political, cultural, and academic circles, is most commonly expressed by the so-called environmental movement in proposals that are antitechnology, antiprogress and, if fully implemented, will lead to a reduced standard of living in the developed world.

It is an antihuman, antihumanist view, one that decries human achievement rather than celebrating it. And those who believe this way are once again calling on people to turn off their lights in observance of “Earth Hour” on March 26. [Read the U.S. News debate: Does the United States need more nuclear power?]

It’s a once a year event, one the so-called environmental community regards as a symbolic act urging businesses, individuals and lawmakers to take action in support of efforts to combat global warming, err, climate change.

The proponents of “Earth Hour,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute says, want “laws and sanctions to prevent individuals from freely using earth’s resources.” But, because the folks at CEI believe human progress and technological innovation have made life better, they are encouraging everyone to mark March 26 as “Human Achievement Hour.”

“The result of the environmental movement is a limitation on our ability to create the future wave of technologies and a hindrance on our ability to produce the current products that benefit or everyday lives.”

“You can sit in the dark and join them or you can join people around the world who plan to leave their lights on, affirming their appreciation for human inventions like electricity, indoor plumbing, mass food production, heat, transportation, and computers,” CEI says, asking people to--through their actions--cast a vote “against environmental alarmism” and in favor of “human achievement.” [See a slide show of 10 cities adopting smart grid technology.]

They have a point. The Luddite, backwards thinking that portrays technology as evil has firmly taken root in western culture. In doing so it ignores the ways in which it has led to an improvement in global living standards, healthier people, better resource utilization and longer lives. To simply say the technology is bad, which is the implicit premise behind such crusades as the one to combat so-called global warming--remember it was former Vice President Al Gore who called the development of the internal combustion engine the worst thing to ever happen to mankind--is to doom all of mankind to an eventual return to the state of nature where, as Thomas Hobbes wrote, all life is “nasty, brutish and short.”

  • Check out this month’s best political cartoons.
  • See a slide show of a reality check on U.S. energy sources.
  • See a slide show of 10 cities adopting smart grid technology.