Why ‘Earth Hour’ was a waste of time
At 8.30pm on Saturday night, everyone was supposed to turn off the lights, in a statement against excessive energy consumption. In Saudi Arabia, few people bothered.
March 28, 2010 10:41 by kippreport
The lights are on but there’s no one home.
That was the message following Saudi Arabia’s attempt at ‘Earth Hour 2010′, the global call for action on climate change.
At 8.30pm last night, the lights of famous landmarks and ordinary people’s homes went out, in a mass statement about our excessive energy consumption. People from the remote Chatham Islands in the far West, to those in Egypt, India and Australia, took part.
It was, admittedly, the first time the event had been held in the Kingdom. And it has been slow to take off in other Gulf countries: Kipp remembers that a few years ago, Dubai’s Earth Hour was advertised on a huge message board at the entrance to The Palm, which featured a message in blazing electric light, advising people to, er, turn off the lights. Which kind of missed the point.
But things were better in Dubai this year, with lights of the famous Burj Khalifa and Burj al Arab being switched off for over an hour, and numerous other commercial and residential blocks participating. So perhaps more Saudi residents will take part in 2011.
The question is: will it do any good?
Raising awareness of our energy consumption probably doesn’t do any harm. But in the Gulf, initiatives like Earth Hour probably don’t do much good, either. That’s because ‘people power’ is rather impotent in the non-democratic societies of the Gulf.
But hopefully someone in government will be listening. Because even a small change in policy could result in massive energy savings.
One of Kipp’s personal bugbears is the scarcity of motion-sensing light switches in this part of the world. As the name suggests, these sense when humans are present, and turn the lights on and off accordingly. These are incredibly common in public buildings and office blocks in other countries, but very rare here; in a region where toilets flush for you automatically, taps are operated by a wave of the hand, and trains do not require drivers, it’s remarkable that these simple devices are not more widespread.
Why bother with Earth Hour, when a minor change in legislation to make these devices compulsory could deliver such massive energy savings?