Critics Question the Effectiveness of Earth Hour

April 25, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. counterproductive
[koun-ter-pruh-DUHK-tiv] (adj.) – delaying or holding back the achievement of a goal
Example: Using plastic bags is counterproductive to our goal of helping the environment.

2. carbon emission [KAHR-buh n ih-MISH-uh n] (n. phrase) – carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide  produced by vehicles and factories
Example:  The company will cut its carbon emissions by 25% to help address climate change.

3. defeat the purpose [dih-FEET thuh PUR-puh s] (idiom) – to go against the original goal
Example: Cutting down trees defeats the purpose of saving the environment.  

4. nitpick [NIT-pik] (v.) – to criticize unimportant details
Example: The defense lawyers are nitpicking everything that the environment activists say. 

5. miss the point [MIS thuh point] (idiom) – to misunderstand the main idea
Example: The listeners missed the point of the speech because they were not paying attention.

Read the text below.

Critics are questioning the effectiveness of the Earth Hour campaign, saying that it has done only little in conserving energy.

Earth Hour, held every March for the past six years, is a worldwide event in which participants turn off lights for one hour to raise awareness about issues on climate change.

Critics, however, see the event as counterproductive. They say that candles, which most participants use as light source during Earth Hour, are still fossil fuels that may not be as environment-friendly as expected.

According to Bjørn Lomborg, an environmental writer, candles are 100 times less efficient in producing light than ordinary light bulbs. Lighting one candle for every light bulb during Earth Hour may increase carbon emissions, and therefore defeat the purpose of the event.

Electrical engineers also noted that turning on an appliance requires more energy after it was switched off. Turning on many appliances at the same time can suddenly increase the demand for electricity and build up carbon emissions.

Earth Hour organizers, on the other hand, argued that they encourage the use of beeswax or soy candles, which are more environment-friendly and more carbon-free than traditional candles.

Moreover, organizers insisted that Earth Hour is a symbolic action and not an activity designed to cut down the use of energy. The goal of Earth Hour is to raise awareness about climate change. Therefore, those who nitpick about how much energy is saved during the event may be missing the point.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think that Earth Hour is an effective way of raising awareness about climate change? Why or why not?
·         Why is it important to raise people’s awareness on environmental problems?

Discussion B

·         What do you think are the biggest causes of global warming? Why do you think so?
·         How does global warming and climate change affect your country?


April 25, 2013