Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
For Earth Hour’s eco-campaigners, barbaric oppression in North Korea is merely a talking point, something to casually make use of.
Each poster inspires people to do one of the sustainable actions chosen by Do The Green Thing’s nine environmental advisors. And it does so using world-class creativity, which we believe is a brilliantly effective tool to seduce, provoke and persuade people to change their behavior for the better. [bold added, backed up here]
Changing other people’s behaviour. That’s what these folks are about. You and I are the unwashed, uninformed masses. We behave the way we do not because we’ve considered our options and have chosen the path that makes the most sense.
We aren’t intelligent beings making intelligent decisions. Rather, we’re eco-sinners. And the DoTheGreenThing folks are missionaries spreading the gospel.
You can see the first 10 of the 23 posters here. A few days ago the featured image proclaimed loudly: “Hot dog, Hot Smog.” It insists that eating meat is responsible for 18% “of all greenhouse gas emissions.”
The fact that no source is provided for this factoid in the accompanying text suggests that the DoTheGreenThings folks don’t care whether it’s accurate or not. That number appears to come from a 2006 UN report, the findings of which have been disputed. Indeed, a 2010 news story is headlined: UN admits flaw in report on meat and climate change.
But the other obvious problem is that carbon dioxide emissions have long been the primary target of global warming campaigners. And carbon dioxide is both colourless and odourless. Whatever else one might say about it, it is not smog.
So we have an inaccurate claim and a dubious statistic on a poster that’s supposed to be connected to the World Wildlife Fund’s Earth Hour event. Judging by the fact that the accompanying text contains three links to vegetarian recipes, this is really just an ad for vegetarianism.
But that’s nothing compared to another poster which features a photograph of North Korea’s late dictator, Kim Jong Il with the text: “Standby lights are evil” added to it. I can’t think of a better illustration of one of Ben Pile’s frequent themes. As he says: “environmentalists have no sense of proportion.”
Between 1995 and 2000, hundreds of thousands of souls – and perhaps as many as 2.4 million – died of famine in North Korea as a result of a long sequence of actions taken by Kim Jong Il’s government. A 1998 report prepared for the US Congress includes a section on Prisons for the Hungry:
As North Korea’s food crisis deepened, Kim Jong Il issued an order on September 27, 1995 to “protect” people wandering for food by incarcerating them. Named after the date of this order, these “9.27” prisons represent a new low in the human rights record of a country that is already at the bottom of respect for international human rights.
Elsewhere the report tells us about Hyesan City Hospital No. 1:
The hospital was filthy. It had no water or electricity. Flies were everywhere. Sixty percent of the hospital’s 120 patients suffered from malnutrition…The children suffered from malnutrition, tuberculosis, and lung and kidney infections. We saw a “homemade” intravenous fluid (IV) attached to a child that was constructed from an empty glass bottle containing water and sugar. The IV tube was dirty and yellow. It was tied to the child’s head by a dirty piece of cloth.
The human tragedy that is North Korea is profound. But for Earth Hour’s eco-campaigners, that gaping wound of oppression and deprivation is a mere talking point, something to casually make use of. The text that accompanies this poster quotes the artist, Joe Stephenson:
The standby light embodies everything that’s wrong with the world: rather than walking two steps to turn the telly off properly, we just leave it on standby, sucking up electricity and driving up our energy bills. So I wanted to demonize those little red lights, by making everyone think of Kim Jong Il whenever they see one.
A few appliances on standby represent everything that’s wrong with this world. He actually says that. Below the quote we’re advised that:
A TV set that’s switched on for 3 hours a day and in standby mode for the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy on standby.
Again, no source is provided, but a Government of Canada website adds some much-needed perspective:
Also known as “leaking electricity,” “vampire power” and “phantom loads,” standby power accounts for an average of 5 to 10 percent of all electricity used in the typical Canadian home. [bold added]
So the DoTheGreenThing folks think that using marginally more electricity than we arguably need is on the same moral plane as a mass-murdering dictator.
This is their idea of using creativity to communicate Earth Hour-friendly messages.