The Unsuitablog

Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

Earth Hour Huge Turn Off: Hypocrisy On A Plane

Posted by keith on March 16th, 2009

Apparently, on March 28, millions of people will be turning off their lights for an hour, for Earth Hour. Yes, a whole hour when all sorts of really green places, like Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco, will be flicking off the lights in symbolic venues and, an hour later, turning them all on again, just to show that Industrial Civilization doesn’t really give a f*** about the planet, but likes a good joke: like the joke of Alanis Morrisette flicking her toenails in the tumbler of her fellow airline passenger.

Like the joke that you can be an airline passenger and, at the same time, talk about saving energy.

Like the joke that trivial, symbolic activities, such as Earth Hour do anything other than make people think they have done something worthwhile.

Stop messing about with trivia and do something real.

Earth Hour: The Huge Turn Off- Alanis Morissette PSA

16 Responses to “Earth Hour Huge Turn Off: Hypocrisy On A Plane”

  1. David Says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  2. Meg from FruWiki Says:

    Personally, I think it’s impressive. The end of our ecological problems? No, far from it — and no one is claiming that, of course. But it is impressive that that many people can come to together across the world for a common purpose that doesn’t involve voting for reality t.v. contestants.

    Bottom line, some of us still have to take the occasional plane ride (awful though they are in many respects), some of us can’t walk or bike to work or even to the grocery store, and some of us aren’t ready to give up things like air conditioning — at least not when it starts getting into the 90s and triple digits.

    So, I think it’s far more realistic to ask people to start with small changes which are still very real. My husband and I have both been making small change after small change and you know what? It does add up! We’re seeing a huge drop in our utilities bill and the amount of garbage and other waste we produce. I guess it’s a good thing we weren’t discouraged by someone calling those changes “trivia”!

    I think it’s unwise to dismiss the efforts of others, no matter how small, when we should be encouraging them! After all, if you want most people to try to be greener then the best place to start are those things that are easiest for people to try! For example, just about everyone can use their lights less and make a small difference, which becomes a big difference when you’re talking about thousands or even millions of people. Earth Hour is a good reminder of the power of small differences.

  3. keith Says:

    I mean what I say, Meg. Here is a quick primer:

    Above all, it is not *what* you do, it is *why* you do it.

  4. Meg from FruWiki Says:

    I should think that you do, Keith, but I also mean what I say (though we can agree to disagree).

    I think it odd, though, that in light of what you already said that you add that it’s not what you do, but why you do it that’s important. After all, people can make a lot of little changes for the right reasons while others make big changes for the wrong ones.

    As for the primer, I think people should consider both lists as examples of what to do. I just don’t think we’ll see a majority of people doing much on the second list, but I do think that we can get a lot more people doing the things on the first list. You might call it hypocritical, but I call it a hell of a lot better than nothing and well worth encouraging. In fact, I do most of those things (as well as others).

    Would you rather me NOT do those things? Would that be less hypocritical of me? And if you do any of those things, does that make YOU the hypocrite? And if you’re not doing those things, then why not?

  5. keith Says:

    I will try to answer this without reference to other articles (though if you read The Earth Blog then you will find them): basically motivation is vital because the importance of change lies in whether *you* have decided to do it because it is the right thing to do, in an objective sense; rather than because some vested interest or other decided it was the right thing for people to do, so that the vested interest would benefit from this action. A typical example is getting people to change light bulbs, because this not only continues to keep money flowing into the industrial economy, but means that people can continue living in the same consumer-orientated manner. The side-effect may be to save a bit of energy, but the net effect is a continuation of the consumer culture. The same with taking TVs off standby: a tiny bit of energy saved, but we don’t feel bad about watching TV (and the propaganda it broadcasts), in fact feel a bit better as long as we remember to take them off standby. There are thousands more like this – all of which perpetuate the consumer culture and ensure that real change doesn’t take place.

    What *you* do may, in itself, be a change towards sustainability, but that is because *you* have decided that that is the reason you want to change: for the vast majority of people making changes, or non-changes (like switching their lights off for an hour, and sublimating their desire to do something useful), the motivation is simply that they have been told – often by the system-friendly environmental mainstream – that they should. If people are not doing things in an informed, free manner, then they are not changing at all.

    We are all hypocrites to a certain extent – but I would rather be a free-thinking semi-hypocrite (but getting better all the time) than someone who has not gained the ability to think for themselves, and is totally unhypocritical in the eyes of the system.

  6. Every hour should be Earth Hour | Dismantle Civilisation Says:

    […] the Unsuitablog’s response to another farce going on this Saturday – WWF’s ‘Earth Hour‘: […]

  7. Beth Terry, aka Fake Plastic Fish Says:

    @Meg from FruWiki “Bottom line, some of us still have to take the occasional plane ride (awful though they are in many respects)”

    Yes, it’s true that people have to take the occasional plane ride. But why would the producers of the Earth Hour commercial *choose* to show an advocate for Earth Hour doing a very un-eco thing? Alanis could have been anywhere. Why on a plane? It’s a truly muddled message.

  8. Manuel Says:

    We are just looking at a PSA conceived and produced either by morons -or by Shell.

    The fact that she’s on a plane is only the tip of an iceberg of mixed, unwanted messages. Leather seats, first class, gold jewelry,.. All is cool, as long as you seat like a monkey and are really rude to some random guy in a suit. I bet the average guy in a suit has a smaller carbon footprint than Alanis Morissette, by the way.

    The first class plane setting makes no sense. It could have worked maybe, possibly, barely, if the guy in a suit would say that he’s working to green his business and that he will join Earth Hour. But why even bother?

    In any case, what seems clear is that the PSA packs enough distracting and controversial elements to really take away from the message. A message -Earth Hour- whose effectiveness is questionable to beging with.

    Shell, BP, etc., should be satisfied, if not for making themselves a video that serves them so well, at least for producing the endocrine disruptors that are making dumb enviros even dumber.


  9. Ian Hopper Says:

    I’m not sure who created the Alannis ad, but my impression was that it was blatant mockery of Earth Hour. I had a good laugh at the “Earth Hour” concept when I first heard it. It’s preposterous and arrogant to think that turning off you lights for an hour would mean a damn thing. Turning off you lights permanently? Now I’m impressed.

  10. Mark Smith Says:

    Keith – “Above all, it is not *what* you do, it is *why* you do it.”

    Do you really believe that intentions are more important than actions?

  11. keith Says:

    Yes, for two reasons:

    1) Intention is an excellent indicator of the likely longer-term path of the actor: for instance, an oil company may invest in solar energy, but they are still an oil company, and (like BP) if the solar panels do not make a profit, or prove to be insufficient PR to counter their true intention (to sell oil) then they will no longer invest in solar energy.

    2) Intention almost always shapes actions, anyway. If my intention is not to pollute then I am highly unlikely to take part in activities that cause pollution; if my intention is merely to look trendy, then I am more likely to covertly take part in polluting activities (or “personal greenwashing”).

    Always ask the question: “Who gains most?” Intention is key to answering this.

  12. Mark Smith Says:

    Keith, I take your point about the likely long term path, but it troubles me that emphasising intentions over actions may justify all sorts of mistakes – the road to hell and so-on.

  13. keith Says:

    You’ll have to enlighten me on what you mean by “the road to hell”, Mark. By “intention” I don’t mean just thinking about doing something, BTW – you used that word, but I prefer “motivation”.

  14. Mark Smith Says:

    Keith, I mean the syndrome in which any action (whether likely to be effective or not) is considered good as long the the intention behind it is good. This “earth hour” being a case in point – did it do any good, or could the effort that went into it have been better directed?

  15. keith Says:

    Mark, I suspect the problem is in the use of the word “intention” – if you replace it with “motivation” then things change significantly. You can “intend” to do good and still mess it up – it’s quite a weak position – but if you are motivated by a desire to protect humanity and the global ecosystem it depends on then I would struggle to see how this could be anything but good. Probably just semantics, and I don’t want to go round in circles, except to say that there are countless examples of superficially “good” acts that, beneath the surface, are only motivated by a desire to make money, gain power or save face. That is what this blog is all about.

  16. T B Says:

    Maybe someone has already said this, but I’ve just got to –

    Presenting your campaign as a disgusting turn-off (in this case, one that is equivalent to a stranger’s toe-nails in a drink) is yet another bad idea.

    Earth Hour is a mega-freakish event.

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