Do I have anything against Earth Hour? No, not at all. In fact, I do try to join in and turn off my lights, and participate in this symbolic exercise.
What I'm against is the hype machine that surrounds it. To top it off, people shutoff their 12W light bulbs yet drive off to attend an Earth Hour concert - thus generating more carbon in the process.
One thing you have to realize is that even if a large number of us shutoff our lights, it doesn't necessarily mean that a coal plant also shuts down for an hour - thus cutting off the carbon emission for an hour. No it doesn't work that way. One hour is really too short to shut down and restart an electric plant.
In the quest towards a low carbon economy, symbolism is fine - at the start. But if that's all you do year in and year out, you are just contributing to fueling the hype machine. Go beyond that. Go for permanent change.
When March 26 this Saturday 830pm comes, do join in and shutoff your lights. But after that, figure out a way how to permanently replace that light with an energy conserving one, and figure out how to reduce your waste lighting permanently. If you still have fluorescent bulbs, replace these with CFL's or better yet LED lighting. Consider investing in air conditioners, heat exchangers and other appliances with better energy saving ratios.
Unfortunately, it is cheaper for companies to be Earth Hour sponsors than to actually make permanent changes to their operations to allow them to consume less electricity.
Want to make Earth Hour better? Figure out what you are doing this year that makes you use and generate less carbon from last year.
Is Earth Hour just hype? It really depends on how you observe it. Symbolism that leads to action is fine. Symbolism that remains just that is simply hype.
Dennis Posadas is the author of Jump Start: A Technopreneurship Fable (Singapore: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009). A sample of his new Green Thinking fable ebook on clean energy can be read at http://greenthinkingfable.blogspot.com