At the End of the Hour

Earth Hour. And although I would like to look at the brighter side of things — pun intended — I find it increasingly difficult to appreciate a cause that revolves around hype. I am not here to say Earth Hour is nothing but a social movement; on the contrary, I do believe in the cause. The faith I lack is in how people would maintain their commitment to the cause a long time after the lights are back on.

And herein lies the problem: we want to feel part of something that is much bigger than us; we participate, and when it is over, so is the participation. That is not to say that everyone will go back to heavy consumption, but through observation it is safe to assume that when Earth Hour is over, the majority of people will go on like nothing has ever happened. Unless the event coincides with a solar flare that will fry out the grids (and not just read on the news that they might), I hardly doubt many people will go beyond the hour. Just like when a large proportions of Muslims who observe Ramadan and fast all day end up binge-eating after sunset, missing out completely on the concepts of preservation and discipline. Dare I say that the amount of food wasted daily at Iftar around the world can feed a continent for that day? Food for thought.

So how are social causes any different? Yes, it is all nice and fun to be part of something — but where is the belief and the passion that go along with it?

Perhaps, then, wrapping the event around a challenge is actually a good idea; when you commit people to a challenge, they’re more likely to commit to the cause. And in the recent years with everything “going green” trending worldwide, all these green movements are starting to shape up. The fundamental reason behind this is what while the majority of people will go on with their power-hungry lives, those who go beyond the hour are making an impact. They’re spreading the awareness and are becoming role models for other people to follow.

The underlying principle here is not necessarily “saving the planet”; it’s about discipline in consumption. Let it be power or water  or food or whatever resource. Earth is truly finite. Our lives are finite. Every single aspect of our lives is composed of fleeting moments. Why is it when the water is cut off, we manage to brush our teeth and do the dishes and other things with a bottle of water, whereas when it’s flowing out of the tap, we’re opening the tap all the way?

Earth Hour — and most other things like it — are not just an hour-a-year social movement; they’re habits. So make conservation, and discipline, your habit.