Sunday, 29 March 2009

Anti-Earth Hour

Many things irritate me. Some things make me cross. Few make me want to tear out what is left of my hair. "Earth Hour" falls squarely into the last category. Even if I had been seduced by the patent clap-trappery of catastrophic man-made global warming I would still rage against this latest example of loud-mouthed vacuousness.

And it is just the latest example. The first big instance was Live Aid in 1985. The previous year a bunch of has-been entertainers released a record under the name Band Aid to raise money for starving brown people in Africa. It sold well so the following year they organised a large number of concerts to be held around the world on the same day, the event was called Live Aid. It raised a lot of money from the little people and did a little to help some of the poorest communities in Africa, but I always had my doubts about the real motives of many of those who took part. Some were successful singers and musicians, others were has-beens who had successfully turned a lot of money into large houses, fast cars and Colombian nose-talc and were facing a future of relative penury unless they re-launched their careers. My contrarian nature objected to being told by people worth (or once worth) millions that I should pay towards their chosen cause from my meagre resources. Had they made a polite request thing would have been different, but I was being ordered to do it by people who, as far as I could tell, spent more on cocaine every year than I spent on food. The real loud-mouths have demanded massive appearance fees to talk about poverty ever since. Some organisations have been stupid enough to pay those fees in return for speeches containing nothing but platitudes laced with profanities.

There was quite a gap until the next big event. In that time a whole generation of so-called popular entertainers had made easy fortunes and blown them in the conventional manner, they were ripe for an opportunity to return to the good times. Along came Live8 in 2005. Twenty years on from the event that would eradicate hunger and misery, there was still hunger and misery in exactly the same places as two decades before. More concerts were arranged. This time successful artistes were in relatively short supply and has-beens were very much the soup of the day. It was another futile gesture achieving a little at huge cost compared to the benefits achieved. Like it's predecessor it allowed some defunct quasi-musical careers to be revived, for which the nation's drug dealers are very grateful.

Grandiose gestures are never the answer to problems.

I have seen nothing to make me think for one second that man-made global warming is a problem (if it exists at all, I think it probably does but the evidence is sketchy). Even if I did, turning the lights off in FatBigot Towers for one hour on a Saturday in March will achieve absolutely nothing. Turning off the lights in every home in the world for one hour will achieve absolutely nothing. Demand for electricity will fall for one hour, so what? So nothing.

The whole thing is a futile gesture promoted by those who believe in fairy tales and those who just want to get their faces on television and their names in the newspapers. I thought of reacting to it by turning my lights on, running the washing machine and dishwasher and utilising every other juice-consuming appliance I have, but that would just waste my money and would be as futile a gesture as turning everything off.

I will only be on this planet for a limited time. When I am gone I will be reduced to ashes which, I hope, will be put to use in family horticultural endeavours. In the meantime I intend to spend my time doing useful things. As Earth Hour started I sat down to a splendid feast at a wonderful local Thai restaurant. It's a mile walk from FatBigot Towers, but worth every step. No futile gestures there because they have a business to run, they have staff to pay and they have the future to think about. The real future, the future of keeping food on the tables of their customers in order to keep food on the tables of their staff. It was a far more productive thing to do than join hands with naive hippies in an act of pathetic nothingness.


Tom Paine said...

Is it really true that the Band Aid people charge appearance fees (and pocket them) for talking about poverty? I thought I was cynical, but that's hard to credit. Do you have sources? Can you name names?

james c said...


There is plenty of material on the subject here.

TheFatBigot said...

Mr Paine, there is a reference to "Sir" Bob doing it on his wiki entry.

Roger Sowell said...

Mr. FB, Hear, Hear! I love the line "the drug dealers are happy."

As a lad in grade school in the early 1960's we were taught about the difficult problems in Africa. Now, more than 45 years later, the same problems in Africa exist, with some new ones added. Does anyone know how many billions of dollars/pounds/other have been spent to solve Africa's problems?

As for the impact of Earth Hour on electrical grids, it made not a blip on California's usage. We have a daily display, which I captured and posted here: