Let's talk black and white, after all it is about keeping the light on, in this case turning the lights off. The emerging economies (BRIC) are so much power starved that it is unfair to compare the developed vs developing nations on the same scale.
But why am I raising this with a topic 'Earth Hour' ...?
Good to see that the 'Earth Hour' campaign has caught up good steam in about 3 years. It originated from Sydney, Australia in 2007 when the city's household and businesses decided to turn off their lights for an hour campaigned by WWF. Many other countries joined the next year onwards. Earth hour is observed on the last Saturday of March.
The statistics on energy saved due to this is highly debated and my verdict is that it will definitely be insignificant if we take into account the additional energy consumed by the propaganda, campaign materials and celebrity ramp walks involved, but is it really about the energy saved in that one hour? NO, to me it is more about spreading the message. The message about how much energy could be conserved by thinking a second time on the non-essential power usage we do, about bringing an awareness to people who have never seen a power cut or energy shortage in their lifetime.
Now, let me get back to my 'comparison' which I started with. At a rate of 0.7 kW per person consumption in India vs a 11.4 kW per person consumption in the US it is not a same plane comparison. 25% of world's energy is consumed by USA with 5% of world population. With 20% of the world's population, China consumes at a rate of 1.6 kW per person. I use USA as my benchmark not to point fingers rather to point out that any country that has reached a level of development of USA will be consuming at that rate. If by magic, we make all the other countries as developed as the US we all will be guzzling 11.4 kW per person which is scary, it is worse because our source of energy is mostly finite dependent on hydel or fossil fuels. I do not want to comment on who deserves more power, the developed nations whose development and better technology is also helping developing ones to be efficient or the developing nations who deserve a chance to catch up with the developed nations. It will be a never ending debate. The need of hour is AWARENESS.
If saving power is the motive, my thumbs down to earth hour campaign, it makes no senses to people like me living in place where we have such 'earth' hours almost every day and with such high power tariffs we cannot miss to switch off unwanted lights. We save much more power with regular power cuts than a once a year DAY for it. Brazil, having 90% of its power generated from water was caught a deep power crisis when rains failed for a few years. The government had to impose extreme steps like power-rationing mandating industry and middle class household to cut consumption by 70% or face a 300% fine on bills else risk lines being cut off.
As a global awareness campaign I see Earth hour is popular and hope it has the desired effect too on people who can make a difference with just a second thought
Bangalore, India during earth hour
Bangalore, India after earth hour