This weekend was Earth Hour, a yearly event where environmentally conscious people throughout the world are supposed to show their commitment to saving the planet by turning off their kitchen lights for an hour. I know what you’re thinking, but no, it’s not an April Fools’ Day joke. As the event’s website describes it:
Earth Hour is being celebrated in a record 150 countries and territories and 6494 towns and cities to send the message that our combined efforts are needed to change our future to one that is sustainable. Lights go out at 8.30pm local time as Earth Hour travels around the world, offering an hour of inspiration to create awareness and motivate ongoing action for the environment.
Some have questioned Earth Hour’s effectiveness. As Bjorn Lomborg has noted: “The environmental effect of the past three annual lights-out hours has been negligible. If everyone in the world participated in this year’s Earth Hour, the result would be the same as turning off China’s carbon emissions for roughly 45 seconds.” There is, however, one country that has shown a true commitment to the principles behind Earth Hour. The photo above is a satellite image showing the use of lights at night on the Korean Peninsula. As you can see, South Korea, Japan, and even China are brimming with electricity use, whereas North Korea is almost entirely dark. For many, the image is a telling sign of North Korea’s failure as a nation. But in their wildest dreams the organizers of Earth Hour could not have hoped to achieve the level of success in reducing one’s carbon footprint that occurs in North Korea year round. I will leave it to the reader to decide what, if any, implications follow from all this.