Going green by going dark: Maybe not the best approach

Lightsoutla2People in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco are being asked to turn off all non-essential lights for an hour this evening — from 8 to 9 p.m. — to conserve energy and bring awareness to the most basic global-warming-fighting principle of reducing energy demand.

A similar hour of darkness was held in Australia on March 31, when more than 2 million residents of Sydney turned off lights and reduced energy use by 10 percent. According to the organizing group’s website, this reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 24.86 tons, which amounted to taking some 48,000 cars off the road for an hour, which is a lot of lost trips to 7-Eleven.

My take: I love the community factor, where we see how our cumulative actions make a huge difference. And I’m all for unoccupied skyscrapers and office buildings going dark at night. That should be required by law. But asking homeowners to sit in the dark, with perhaps one lonely bulb burning, taps into fears that the green movement is all about lack, denial and darkness. And it’s not. The green movement is about innovation, personal responsibility and care for future generations. I just think an hour of darkness gives the wrong impression.

What do you think about this?