Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Participating in a voluntary 3-hour blackout on
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2001]
Origins: Energy certainly has been on people's minds lately, what with higher gasoline prices and soaring power costs in states such as California, and the Bush administration's response — denunciation of the 1997 Kyoto global-warming agreement, a willingness to allow oil exploration in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, renewed interest in "dirty" fossil fuels such as coal — has left many environmentally-inclined folks disappointed. But is the proposed symbolic blackout really a protest directed at changing governmental policy, or merely a means of finding a scapegoat to blame for our own lack of
Nobody seemed to be complaining about a lack of emphasis on "efficiency, conservation, and alternative fuels" when energy prices remained satisfactorily low. Now, prices are higher (for a variety of reasons), the word "energy" is more frequently coupled with the word "crisis," and the whole issue is suddenly the government's fault. Whether we agree with the White House's handling of energy policy or not, we need not wait for official government "emphasis" or approval to implement efficiency and conservation at a local level. Fuel-efficient automobiles are there for the buying, as are energy-saving light bulbs and power-saving appliances. How many of us took advantage of them before rising prices forced us to change our energy-wasting ways? We could easily save more oil through personal conservation efforts than is to be found in the entirety of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.
As protests go, the planned blackout is a pretty good one: It harms no one, it makes a symbolic point in a very visible way, and it may better acquaint participants with how dependent upon electricity the average household is. But, as usual, if the only effort we make to affect energy policy is to turn off our lights for three hours one day and then resume our normal habits, we shouldn't expect much to change. "Rolling Your Own Blackout" offers the average citizen a constructive way of venting, but we suspect far too many people will end up "participating" in it by watching television or surfing the web in darkened rooms, then hopping into their SUVs to go get something to eat.
Barbara "lancelot versus the black night" Mikkelson
Sightings: "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno rolled his own blackout by taping his
Last updated: 28 November 2007
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.