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Environmentalist Bjorn Lomberg: 'Earth Hour adds to pollution, mocks the poor'

Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
AFP/Getty Images

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, cities around the world are set to power down in Earth Hour, an event intended to raise awareness of global warming while giving environmentalists an opportunity to crow about how much they care about the issue. But Bjorn Lomborg, author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist," said Saturday the event only adds to pollution and mocks the poor.

"If all the turned-off lights were turned into emission reductions they would not amount to much," he said, adding that it would be like China "halting its CO2 emissions for less than four minutes."

But, he said, even that tiny reduction is unrealistic due to the surge to follow after the event ends.

"And even this forgets that almost all participants light candles instead," he added. "But candles are almost 100 times less efficient than incandescent light bulbs, and more than 300 times less efficient than fluorescent lights."

In other words, by lighting candles instead of turning on the light switch, environmentalists are actually doing more harm than good.

"Light one candle and it will emit as much CO2 as you were saving. Light a bunch of candles and you’ll have emitted much more CO2," he explained. "So Earth Hour may actually increase CO2 emissions."

Moreover, he said, not only does the event do nothing to help the environment, it mocks those in countries who are forced to live without electricity.

"Almost three billion people still burn dung, twigs and other traditional fuels indoors to cook and keep warm. These fuels give off noxious fumes that kill an estimated 3.5 million people each year, mostly women and children," he said, observing that conveniences like electric stoves and heaters have actually ended what he called the "scourge of indoor air pollution."

Last year, the Chicago Tribune said, some 7,000 cities participated in the event, and a record 158 countries and territories are expected to participate this year, the WWF website claims. According to, the event started as a as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007.



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