|Roll Your Own Blackout|
Email text contributed by Jennifer Mulcare-Sullivan, 15 May 2001:
ROLL YOUR OWN BLACKOUT
As an alternative to George W. Bush's energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 at 7pm - 10pm in any time zone (this will roll it across the planet).
Its a simple protest and a symbolic act. Turn out your lights from 7pm-10pm on June 21. Unplug whatever you can unplug in your house. Light a candle to the Sungoddess, kiss and tell or not, take a stroll in the dark, invent ghost stories, anything that's not electronic - have fun in the dark.
Read the 1999 book "Natural Capitalism" by Hawken and Lovins to learn that conservation/high efficiency technologies already ARE on-the-shelf. If implemented these revolutionary ideas would pay themselves off within five years, after which we'd be pumping far less greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and saving bucks to boot.
Forward this email as widely as possible, to your government representatives and environmental contacts.
Let them know we want global education, participation and funding in conservation, efficiency and alternative fuel efforts -- and an end to over- exploitation and misuse of the earth's resources.
Comments: One of our consistent objections to protests "organized" by chain letter is that flooding the Net with mass-forwarded emails amounts to no organization at all. The method is inherently flawed and itself to some degree a waste of resources.
Even so, this attempt may accomplish more than others of its kind due to a fair amount of positive press and the approval of various advocacy groups, not to mention the timely erection of a Roll Your Own Blackout Website which, while it offers little in the way of organization, at least provides a central clearinghouse of information.
According to the site, the blackout was conceived by David Aragon, a computer engineer, and put into email form by Los Angeles artist Monica Rex. As is typical of chain emails, more than one version exists, with comments added along the way by anonymous contributors.
Since neither the emails nor the Website promise grandiose results, it's arguably beside the point to pooh-pooh their potential effectiveness. Still, some critics have done just that, objecting that a three-hour blackout by some small fraction of the population is unlikely to produce a noticeable decrease in power consumption. Defenders respond that any conservation is better than none and that even if all it does is raise public awareness and put The Powers That Be on notice that some people care, its purpose will have been served.
On the latter score, it is worth pointing out that given many Internet users' sensitivity to junk email, personal messages to receptive friends and acquaintances always stand a better chance of conveying critical information than anonymous forwarded chain letters, if for no other reason than they're less likely to be summarily deleted. It takes more effort than the impersonal scattershot approach, but it's also less wasteful something worth considering as long as we're on the subject of conservation.
Take the Poll: "Will you participate in the 'roll your own' blackout on June 21?"
Sources and further reading:
Email's Bright Idea: Your Own Blackout
Seattle Times, 19 May 2001
Editorial: Help Energy Awareness
Denver Post, 26 May 2001
Energy Protest Heating Up
Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11 June 2001
Roll Your Own Blackout
Website - information about the email protest
Politics & Protest via Email
Gasoline boycotts, partisan rants and digital disinformation