An article by Bjørn Lomborg for USA Today.
At 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, people and public places across the globe will switch off their lights for one hour to raise awareness about the impact of energy use on climate change.
Unfortunately, this Earth Hour event is nothing but an ineffective feel-good event. It does little for the climate in terms of reducing CO2 emissions and distracts us from the real problems and solutions — especially giving light to those in the darkness.
While more than a billion people participate by shutting off their lights for an hour — and saving at most the equivalent of China halting its CO2 emissions for fewer than four minutes — 1.3 billion people across the developing world will continue to live without electricity as they do every other night of the year.
Almost 3 billion people still burn dung, twigs and other traditional fuels indoors to cook and keep warm. These fuels give off noxious fumes that are linked to 4.3 million deaths each year, mostly women and children.
In fact, it was the advent of widespread electrical power that freed us from these harmful practices that still affect large parts of the developing world.
Celebrating darkness signals a turn away from an ever brighter future. This is not just metaphorical because climate policies keep making electricity more expensive. This especially hurts the poor. With electricity prices rising 80% in Germany since 2000, and renewable subsidies of $33 billion this year, 800,000 Germans per year get their power cut off because they can no longer afford to pay the bills.
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