An anonymous reader writes "Next Saturday from 8:30PM to 9:30PM EST is 'Earth Hour' (0:30 to 1:30 UTC on Sunday). Millions of people will be participating by shutting off their lights for an hour to show they care about the environment. However, according to this article in Slate, Earth Hour is simply 'vain symbolism,' and it won't actually save any energy — quite the opposite. Quoting: 'Notice that you have not been asked to switch off anything really inconvenient, like your heating or air-conditioning, television, computer, mobile phone, or any of the myriad technologies that depend on affordable, plentiful energy electricity and make modern life possible. If switching off the lights for one hour per year really were beneficial, why would we not do it for the other 8,759? Hypothetically, switching off the lights for an hour would cut CO2 emissions from power plants around the world. But, even if everyone in the entire world cut all residential lighting, and this translated entirely into CO2 reduction, it would be the equivalent of China pausing its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes. In fact, Earth Hour will cause emissions to increase. As the United Kingdom's National Grid operators have found, a small decline in electricity consumption does not translate into less energy being pumped into the grid, and therefore will not reduce emissions. Moreover, during Earth Hour, any significant drop in electricity demand will entail a reduction in CO2 emissions during the hour, but it will be offset by the surge from firing up coal or gas stations to restore electricity supplies afterward.'"
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