Earth Hour 2011: Lights out for Congressional climate change denialists


photo by Suto Norbert/

Proposed legislation to block higher energy efficiency standards for light bulbs, scheduled to go into effect in 2012, is just one more element in a broad assault on efforts to improve U.S. energy efficiency and address global climate change. This year, in conjunction with Earth Hour, send a message to Congress: Lights out for climate change denialists.

Earlier post: Record participation with 5 days until Earth Hour

“Light bulbs have really become a hot topic around the Hill now,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), just before an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on March 10 that heard testimony on a bill that would block implementation of higher lighting efficiency standards that will go into effect in 2012.  The bill, S. 395, sponsored by Sen. Michael B. Enzi (R-Wyoming), is just one element in a broad frontal assault on efforts to improve U.S. energy efficiency and to address climate change issues.  Funding for everything from climate change research to national climate change preparedness is under attack, as is the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases that EPA has determined endanger the health and welfare of Americans.

Underlying these efforts is the view, concentrated in Congress among Republicans, that the current understanding of climate science does not justify serious efforts to curb emissions or to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Those advancing such arguments not only increase the risks of disastrous climate change, but they leave America increasingly unprepared for the impacts of climate disruption. In addition, the majority in the House of Representatives has threatened cuts in climate change research and assessments that are vital to improving understanding of the problem.

During Earth Hour, which begins at 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 26, people around the world will show, with a coordinated and visually dramatic gesture, their support for protecting the planet. During the event, catalyzed by the World Wildlife Fund, a strip of darkness makes its way around the planet as lights are switched off, starting at the International Date Line and making its way West, hour-by-hour. 

This year, Americans could send an additional message, this one directed at Congress:  Lights out for climate change denialists.  Light up the Congressional switchboard (202-224-3121) with calls to your members of Congress.  Tell them climate change is an important issue.  Ask them to support full implementation of existing laws to slow climate change, fund national and international scientific assessments of climate change impacts, improve U.S. climate preparedness, and show strong American leadership in international efforts to address the problem.

For illuminating discussion of the proposed new lighting energy efficiency standards see testimony by Kathleen Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, U.S. Department of Energy, and Steven Nadel, Executive Director, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

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