Today I was was sent this webcomic by the artist's brother, whom I know via StumbleUpon. It's a special comic in support of Earth Hour, which yesterday aimed to persuade 1 billion people around the world to turn off their lights for sixty minutes.
Sadly, I had a couple of problems with it.
The first is that the comic itself is based upon a myth. On numerous occasions over the last couple of years, people on the Internet have suggested that web pages with a black background are environmentally friendly because monitors consume much less energy to display black than white.
Unfortunately, this information is based on old CRT monitors, and hence some way out of date. Most people are now using LCD screens, which produce images in a completely different way, and actually consume slightly more energy to display black webpages than white.
The second problem is with Earth Hour itself. I just don't know what exactly it is trying to achieve, and its website offers very little help in answering my question.
From their home page, it seems to be asking for people to "vote" for action, by turning their lights off, in order to make decision makers sit up and listen. It took six or seven clicks before I could even find a page of FAQs that could confirm this rather feeble request.
Job done, then, surely? The world has spoken, and said, "We think something should be done," and the leaders will listen, and say, "Thanks for letting us know."
That's not going to be much of an achievement though, is it? I would have thought that we'd gone some way beyond that now and had started asking for specific changes in policy, but it seems we're not.
Or maybe, the environmental campaign experts have figured out what to ask for, but they're not telling us, their supporters. Which makes our "voting" for something we're not being told about a bit meaningless, and very very easy to ignore.
If I'm going to support a campaign, I want to see around two to five clear and concise aims on their front page. Then other pages can go into more detail. I want to see what I'm asking decision makers to do.
I want to see that I'm asking them to reduce fossil fuel emissions, subsidise research into alternatives to the internal combustion engine, limit the abilities of multi-nationals to cut down large areas of rainforests.
I don't know what "urgent and unified action" looks like, and neither do our leaders. We have to be much more specific than that.
Otherwise a stunt like this just looks like yet another way for us to feel better about doing nothing.
[Edit: I've realised from Jay's comment (that's the guy whose webcomic started me thinking) and then reading my post back that I probably sound a bit harsh on him. The black background myth was merely what started me thinking, and it's a myth that lots of people harbour, so I would never intend to slur someone who simply didn't realise it wasn't true - that would be deeply unfair. Also, his site is excellent - do check out his other artwork.]