Earth Hour Activism

Originally posted in my Facebook last March 29, 2009.

People I know are split into two groups based on how they reacted to Earth Hour (minus those who don’t care): Those who are happily supportive and enthusiastic of the event, and those who bash the event as something useless or what not.

After I first heard of of Earth Hour, I did some research and then became a convert of the latter. After all, I reasoned, if Earth Hour was all about saving energy, then it was pretty unscientific. Majority of the participants of EH were households. The big-spenders, such as factories, definitely did not participate. If we connect that to global warming, EH was also pretty futile. The countries with huge percentages of participation in relation to their population, such as the Philippines, did not contribute significantly to global warming. Remember Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth? Even if our entire country went back to firewood, it would still not match the reduction of air pollution a “Green” China or U.S would have.

But then EH enthusiasts argued back. And I quote, from one of the many EH pages in Facebook:

“In 2007, more than two million Sydney businesses and households turned off their lights for
one hour – Earth Hour – sending a powerful global message that it’s possible to take action on
climate change.”

Oh ok. So EH does not aim to really cut back on global warming and energy consumption all by itself. Its more of a symbolic act, something to catch peoples’ attention about the issue (the environment), get them to ask questions and become informed, and get them to act on the issue itself.

And my enthusiast friends tell me, all it takes is “one switch”.

Now I have a comparison to point out to everyone, whether they are EH supporters, bashers, or the usual I-don’t-care crowd: Can you name something else that won’t solve the issue it is about, aims to inform people about the issue, and requires the participation of many to work, just like Earth Hour?

That’s right: Social change, rallies, and revolutions, in whatever order you wish.

That’s the typical counter-argument I heard as a UP activist: “Kahit naman mag-rally tayo, hindi naman _____ (substitute this with “magbabago ang lipunan, aalis si Gloria, bababa ang tuition, tataas ang sahod”).

Which is true. Rallies aim to make a point, catch your attention, and get you to ask questions and become informed AND take action.

Whenever students, youths, women, workers, and other sectors take a beating from cops guarding the U.S Embassy, its not because we aimed to take over the Embassy and flush out Smith ala medieval witch-hunts. It’s because we wanted to make a point: the Arroyo Government is in collusion with the U.S in depriving us justice. The VFA kept Smith out of bars, the Government took Nicole out of the picture, and the police took us to the hospital for a peaceful demonstration.

Then, we want you to ask the questions, especially the hard ones: Bakit ganun? Hindi ba dapat pinprotektahan ng gobyerno/pulis/AFP ang mga mamamayan? Bakit naghihirap ang mamamayan kahit masipag? Anong ugat ng mga problema? Anong magagawa ko para baguhin ito?

If people can turn off their lights for one hour just to make a point about environmentalism, then surely they can boycott classes for one day to make a point against tuition and other fee increases, then surely they can allocate part of their vacation to knowing the real situation of the poor (as opposed to what the media and popular culture tells us) by joining exposure trips, then surely they can join seminars and fora of groups like Anakbayan and the LFS so they can find out what we can do to make the world we live in a better place.

Yes, this world can be, could be, and should be a better place. And all it takes is one _____.

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