Earth Hour 2008 ‘happened’ yesterday. Except it didn’t. The whole point is that nothing happens.
Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.
Except that this wasn’t a message, because anybody who wasn’t involved wouldn’t have been able to witness anything. Everyone who was involved would have been reflecting on the “greatest threat our planet has ever faced” silently, while everyone else carried on about their business, oblivious to the most pointless demonstration in the planet’s history.
Even if anyone had noticed, what would the “powerful message” have been? “Look, we don’t have any lights on”.
The organisers tell us that “Earth Hour 2008 was a global movement.” But this form of action is in fact inaction. Environmentalist campaigns may consider themselves “movements”, but in fact, they are characterised by antipathy towards any form of movement whatsoever, like last year’s Climate Camp at Heathrow Airport was, for example.
Similarly, Friends of the Earth’s campaign The Big Ask Virtual Web March is about channeling the collective apathy of the environmental non-movement to create a database of video whinges about modern life. Tellingly, it boasts many more contributors than they could muster at any real-world march.
The environmental unmovement is not only confused about what is action and what is inaction, but also what is progressive, and what is retrogressive. A consequence – could it ever been realised – of dragging the developed world back to primative technologies and basic lifestyles is that the expression of political action will also be limited. The environmental unmovement is against mass movements. Literally. And it is by depriving mass movements of the means of action that the environmental unmovement becomes a retrogressive and deeply conservative force.