FOR EXACTLY ONE HOUR SATURDAY evening, lights went out in San Francisco, Chicago and the larger part of Australia.
It was all planned that way.
Earth Hour was to blame, sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF).
Last yearâ€™s Sydney-only event went over like gangbusters, so for the second time around the-WWF-that-did-not-bring-you-Dwayne-The-Rock-Johnson organized a few more cities in on the fun.
Across the world, environmentally conscientious citizens, opportunist cheapskates and those who just like that fuzzy bandwagon feeling joined hands and flipped their switches to thwart pollution and to save dear olâ€™ Mother Earth.
If the promotional material is to be believed, last yearâ€™s event decreased energy consumption 10.2 percent.
Sure, a researcher unaffiliated with the WWF noted that the drop was closer to 6 percent, and that once new factors were taken into account, the actual change might have scraped a little more than the statistically negligible 2 percent.
Either way, this event is just another dramatic failure in that struggle to reduce pollution.
As I see it, the battle isnâ€™t in energy saved or in goodwill gained. The battle is in simple public relations.
Flower children believe that their only enemy is that of corporations, hedge funds and a new strain of unscrupulous robber baron.
Letâ€™s assume thatâ€™s the case.
Earth Hour representatives framed their event against pollution in the wrapping of global warming.
Against Moneybags McGee, thatâ€™s a frontal assault while wearing nothing but the medal from Al Goreâ€™s Nobel Prize.
In public relations, research and facts are for spinning whichever way you want.
Research, which has overwhelmingly supported the global warming hypothesis, amounts to nothing in public relations.
The Opponent has influence, and with it, it can tighten its grip on the minds of a public generally fearful of or unwilling to accept global warming.
Facts, like the recent collapse of an Antarctic ice shelf, amount to nothing in public relations. The Opponent has money, and with it can fund anti-global warming experts.
Despite those expertsâ€™ regular lack of credibility within the scientific community, they will be given equal air time on the talk shows to plead their case against an already-sympathetic public.
If Montgomery Burns really is to blame for their fame, these researchers are also going to be much better funded.
The robber barons have the might of capital and have might in the Capitol. The best the freaks have is â€œThe Day After Tomorrow.â€ Nobody liked that movie.
If our acid-tripping folk musicians really want to win the battle against pollution, talking about global warming will only fall on deaf ears.
Despite years of lobbying, upwards of 38 percent of Americans are still â€œfearful and confusedâ€ about global warming and a full 18 percent simply donâ€™t believe in it, according to recent market research.
In addition, 35 percent believe in global warming and 9 percent are out-and-out advocates.
We need that 18 percent who remains unfazed by the frame of global warming.
The legislation we need should be broad, and it requires support from a broad base of Americans. Where do the coal miners and workers in sludge factories fall, citizens whose Congressmen will dutifully continue opposing those industry-harming bills?
When pollution and emissions issues use global warming, fully credible pollution and emissions issues will go ignored by that crucial 18 percent of the population.
All of those Sierra Club crazies need to take a good, hard look at their failure to connect to the mass of people.
A stunt like Saturdayâ€™s experiment in flipping switches doesnâ€™t evangelize to them.
If anything, 18 percent of Americans were turned off by the whole affair.
Good thing for the plutocratic oligarchs that the environmentalist sucks at follow-through.
Tie-dye urbanites will stay ineffective as long as rural and industrial global warming deniers are convinced to protest against the place that gives them a job. That job, after all, is the only way they can afford little Rupertâ€™s asthma medication.
As long as there are still subtler, more individual coal mining disasters like work-related emphysema, the abstract, impersonal and crazy-sounding global warming theory wonâ€™t even register on the here-and-now, paycheck-to-paycheck radar.
Berkeley-ites should get their collective heads out of their massive bong long enough to realize that the American who understands but still doesnâ€™t believe their cause wonâ€™t contribute a dime of his money or the sweat from his brow.
After they hit up the munchies, it might dawn on them that winning them over is crucial to making environmentally friendly legislation a reality and that global warming will only annoy 18 percent of them.
Theyâ€™ll think: What immediate, human effects does pollution have? Is there an angle there to exploit?
Then theyâ€™ll hit up some more Funyuns.
Thousands of miles away, little, unexploited Rupert still coughs.