Saturday, March 27, 2010

Human Achievement Hour

Tonight, at 8:30 (I think), I will be turning on every light, computer, and ceiling fan in the house. And let's face it, the washer and dryer will probably be going, too, since A.) they are always going, and B.) we have at least one case of Pukinson's Disease here already today (Ryan).

Why? Because I love to give the electric company my money? No. I don't. I really don't and in fact I routinely ask the kids to turn off lights during the daytime, because they just love to turn on a light whenever they enter a room, even if it's already conveniently pre-lit by our friend, The Sun.

I am doing this as a protest against this strange "Earth Hour" idea. This will be my third year of such protest. I don't have time to go on and on about it (what with a puking kid and all, and somehow a birthday party to arrange for, if Miss Morgan doesn't succumb to the illness), so I'll republish my post from two years ago. I rather enjoyed re-reading it, because it was a pretty good one, if I do say so myself (and clearly I do).

Here it is:

Return to the Dark Ages (originally written March 29, 2008)

Don't forget, at 8pm local time tonight, many people around the world will (or already have) voluntarily return to the dark ages.

I truly don't understand this. If you want to use less energy, and save some money off of your utility bill, then get energy-efficient appliances (invented by really smart humans!). Try to make sure you don't have lights on in rooms that aren't being used. That's what we do.

"Going dark" on behalf of the Earth--which I'm afraid won't give a crap one way or the other--is anti-human to the core. Instead of bemoaning humans as some sort of blight, we should celebrate the achievements mankind has made throughout the ages. From the first humans who figured out how to control fire to Ben Franklin and Thomas Alva Edison, to peopleguys like my dad who use modern engineering knowledge to create enormous power plants to help human life flourish, we should celebrate how humans have used the resources of the Earth to create a world in which billions of humans live, create, love, and stay up late into the night simply because they can.

Now you know I have to quote from Anthem, Ayn Rand's fictional story of a civilization plunged backwards into the dark ages, a civilization that once had technology such as the light bulb but chose to lose that technology. One man rediscovered it (in case you're not familiar with the book, he has not yet discovered the word "I", his society had become so collectivized that the word "I" was lost, too--and so he uses the plural "we" instead):

We made it. We created it. We brought it forth from the night of the ages. . . .

We look upon the light which we have made. . . .

Tonight, after more days and trials than we can count, we finished building a strange thing, from the remains of the Unmentionable Times, a box of glass, devised to give forth the power of the sky of greater strength than we had ever achieved before. And when we put our wires to this box, when we closed the current--the wire glowed! It came to life, it turned red, and a circle of light lay on the stone before us.

We stood, and we held our head in our hands. We could not conceive of that which we had created. We had touched no flint, made no fire. Yet here was light, light that came from nowhere, light from the heart of metal.

We blew out the candle. Darkness swallowed us. There was nothing left around us, nothing save night and a thin thread of flame in it, as a crack in the wall of a prison. We stretched our hands to the wire, and we saw our fingers in the red glow. We could not see our body nor feel it, and in that moment nothing existed save our two hands over a wire glowing in a black abyss.

Then we thought of the meaning of that which lay before us. We can light our tunnel, and the City, and all the Cities of the world with nothing save metal and wires. We can give our brothers a new light, cleaner and brighter than any they have ever known. The power of the sky can be made to do men's bidding. There are no limits to its secrets and its might, and it can be made to grant us anything if we but choose to ask.

The Caxton Printers, Ltd. 1995. pp. 59-60.

The Earth will not care if we exterminate ourselves. If we take the lights seen here and extinguish them, the Earth will spin and revolve and all we will have done is stamp out the human race. If we annihilate ourselves, nothing will be gained, for there will be no one left to lose or gain anything.

The human mind, human ingenuity, is the only thing that can improve our lives here on our planet. Humans created candles and kerosene lamps and electric light bulbs and nuclear power. Humans will continue to improve upon existing technology and humans will benefit from it. Turning off your lights for an hour will not improve a thing, but symbolizes a willingness to return to the caveman days, as if living the short, violent lives of our ancestors is a goal we should strive for.

So I will celebrate "Earth Hour" by celebrating humans and the wonderful ways in which humans have used their minds to improve the lives of our species. I will light up my house because I don't want us to cower in the dark, afraid. I will light up my house as a beacon to those who can use their minds to make inventions (and yes! even energy-efficient ones!) that will make my life even better.

Because if we have energy problems, only humans using their minds will be able to solve them. Cursing the candle and embracing the night isn't a solution--it's a surrender.


David Buchner said...

Bravo! One of the many things I feel bad about not getting around to reading on the Web is your blog. Luckily, I was searching my bookmarks for "Earth Hour" stuff, and the RSS brought it up.

And yes: it's a pretty good one.

Try not to get any puke on you.

reddhedd said...

YES! Yes, yes, yes!

We are human, we change the world to suit ourselves, and that is what makes us unique, and that should be celebrated!!!

Your post is spot on!

gypsy said...

Eloquently stated. The hour passed and I'd forgotten about it altogether.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Durn! I was so busy that Saturday night cleaning house, that I completely forgot to honor Edison Hour. So take the fact that I really did appreciate the use of the refrigerator (newly cleaned), the washer and dryer, the water heater (very important to sanitation!), modern plumbing, and the furnace and pellet stove (it was snowing outside!)that night. Not to mention the CD player. Damn, but hot music makes the cleaning go faster!