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Earth Hour

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At the moment my apartment is lit up like an aeroplane hanger. I have every light I can find on, including my photo-floods. Why? Because the simplistic and ill-conceived idea of Earth Hour offends me. Turning off a few lights is, in fact, taking a step backwards. The ability to harness energy is the measure of a civilisation's level of advancement. I reject the notion of a future where we use less energy. Let's find better ways to harness the energy we are only using a fraction of. And there is only one way that will happen - if demand continues to increase and there is a profit-motive for producing energy in ways that are cleaner, more efficient and more sustainable than dependency on the current oil-economy.

The idea of turning off lights and "conserving" energy is centred in the idea that energy is a limited commodity, which in itself is a notion steeped in oil-economy thinking. Natural processes in the Earth - essentially the sum total of energy the Earth receives from the sun and other, less significant outside sources - amounts to 174 petawatts. Of that resource, we are currently harnessing only a small fraction of that, mostly in form of consuming fossil fuels. "Conserving" energy and perpetuating the oil-economy perpetuates the dependence on this mode of energy extraction and hampers the development of radical change away from this destructive consumption.

On a more local level, British Columbia produces an excess of energy, mostly from hydroelectric sources (to the point where the provincial energy company is called "BC Hydro" and people refer to their power bills as "hydro bills" and regularly use the word "hydro" as a colloquial synonym for electricity). Much of the production is exported over huge distances, particularly to California, where a significant amount is lost as thermal energy via electrical resistance in the transmission wires. Yet at the same time BC Hydro continually continually produces "green" propaganda, encouraging it's domestic customers to conserve. This is presented as an ethical position. However, domestic conservation allows BC Hydro, a heavily regulated crown corporation, to export more electricity to customers outside the scope of the regulations they are bound by domestically at elevated prices. Unlike many utilities in the U.S. and elsewhere, "Green" BC Hydro will not, for example, buy back energy from those clever enough to have found ways to produce more energy than they consume and feed back into the grid. Nothing speaks to their corporate hypocrisy more than that.

Here in this province of mountains with raging rivers, windy valleys, long fjords with rapid tidal currents, hot-springs, and countless other sources of procurable energy I utterly refuse to play the oil-economy game that "Earth Hour" represents.

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