Earth Hour: Warming the Planet Through Facebook

Major urban cities went dim yesterday in support of World Wildlife Fund‘s Earth Hour. Started in 2007, the campaign is aimed at raising global consciousness on climate change issues and encourages everyone to reduce their carbon footprint. Although this activity has been much criticized as a “neo-Luddite waste of time“, I believe that the one-hour electricity shut down shows the kind of global solidarity needed in addressing climate change. The Huffington Post expresses this sentiment more clearly:

Earth Hour is not just about one hour. It’s about individual empowerment and generating an interest and a global voice on climate change action. It’s about uniting people, either virtually or in person, within their community, county, state, country and across borders. It’s about knowing there are millions of others wanting and asking for the same thing–a secure climate and future.

The Earth Hour allows us to reflect on the growing fossil fuel addiction that permeates contemporary society. Everything we do–e.g., from facebooking to cars to TV to game consoles to eating, etc.–contribute to an increased demand for fossil energy, and thus to more carbon emissions. Investigating on how much time we spent on social networking sites, The Nielsen Company revealed that global consumers spent more than “five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82% increase from the same time last year when users were spending just over three hours on social networking sites.”

Our fossil energy-dependent lifestyle however is all the more alarming given that scientists believe global oil production will peak by 2014, if it has not already. Experts suggest that “there is only about 1.2% more oil available each year, not enough to keep up with 1.5% annual demand growth.” In effect, we are  on a downward spiral: our demand increases while fossil fuel supply is almost nil.

The problem however is that most governments are not interested in veering energy consumption away from fossil fuels. Instead of weaning our technologies from traditional energy sources and searching for fuel alternatives, governments have opened up their territories to more extractive activities from multinational oil companies.

We blogged about this in the previous post. A similar case is also happening  in the Amazon. Finer and Orta-Martinez, presented that up to 72% of the Peruvian Amazon has been zoned for hydrocarbon activities in the past two years, leading to a second exploration boom in the area (in the 1970s, resistance to hydrocarbon exploration went deadly as the government and indigenous protesters clashed). Survival International reported that the world’s last uncontacted tribes and the rich biological diversity of the Peruvian Amazon are threatened by the detonation of thousands of seismic explosives.

It is quite ghastly to think that the innocent tending of our farms over at Farmville or the cooking of sumptuous dishes in Cafeworld might have contributed to the displacement of indigenous peoples, endangered many species, and raised Earth’s temperature. Reality however bites. The consequences of our cyberactivities are virtually real. Our fossil fuel addiction is eating this planet. Fast.


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