15 April 2009

“Earth Hour” in Malaysia

I just returned from a ridiculously long business trip, something I intend never to repeat.  I rarely spend even two days away from home for work purposes, never mind two weeks – and I like it that way.


Anyway, I was in a Singapore hotel on the evening of the “Earth Hour” anti-festivities.  A note in the hotel room reminded guests to turn off the lights from 8:30 to 9:30 PM as a means of protesting industrial civilization.  I used the occasion to turn on all the lights and celebrate, in my own quiet way, the human achievements that freedom has made possible.


A few days later, while I was in Malaysia, I was astonished to see a similar protest described in the opinion pages of a local newspaper.  The title of the piece was “Earth Hour is a total farce,” and it was written by a Malaysian native, Mohd Peter Davis:


As the lights went out for Earth Hour on March 28, organized by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to protest against man-made global warming, our scientist family did exactly the opposite.


We switched on every single light in our energy-efficient bungalow in Bandar Baru Bangi.  We held this mini festival of lights to say that mankind’s increasing use of electricity has nothing to do with global warming…


[Said his wife of the Earth Hour campaign,] “This is immoral and an insult to everything we have achieved.  I studied under oil lamps until I was 16.  Electricity got us out of poverty and built Malaysia.  It transformed society.  If anyone messes up our electricity supply, it’s back to oil lamps and padi farming…  Earth needs more and more electricity.  That is how we measure our improving standard of living.”[Note 1, emphasis mine.]



Mr. Davis made several other good points in his article, including the fact that carbon dioxide is not an environmental poison and that the “global warming” that results from natural fluctuations of environmental conditions has tremendous benefits to mankind.  Unfortunately, he subverted his article somewhat with his last paragraph, which seems bizarrely out of place, by pining longingly for big government programs of the past (“Atoms for Peace, the Green Revolution and the Man on the Moon mission”), and applauding the use of Malaysia’s “economic stimulus package” to fund scientific research.  Despite this defect, I was thrilled to see such a sentiment expressed in a Muslim country halfway around the world, especially as it stressed the immorality of the “Earth Hour” protests. 




1.  “Earth Hour is a total farce,” New Straits Times, 3 Apr 2009, p. 19.

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