Are climate awareness campaigns really useful?
I'll surprise you with the answer “yes and no”, which I believe will get your attention. Let's take one of the biggest climate awareness campaigns, Earth Hour, which requires you to turn off the lights for 1 hour. (Earth Hour: http://www.earthhour.org/). The problem is just that: the lights are off for only 1 hour. So how much electricity do you think is really saved? In Earth Hour 2010, close to 1 billion people participated from 126 countries.
Now lets go for some math.
Lets assume every 2 participants belonged to a single household, therefore 500,000,000 households participated. Of those households, each turned off 3 lights at 40 watts each (assumption of the average households).
So how much electricity was really saved?
Answer: 500,000,000 x 3 x 40 = 60,000,000 kWh
But we'll need to make a comparison because we don't know how much that really is by looking at that number.
The “Consumers Avg. Monthly Consumption” in the U.S. is 122,471,071,920 (kWh) kilowatt hours. That means the U.S. hourly consumption is 170,098,711 (kWh) kilowatt hours.
Remember, the 60 million kWh that was saved was the total from 126 countries in 1 hour. The U.S. alone consumes 170 million kWh in 1 hour, every hour.
The campaign caused only a small dip on the electricity grid and it didn't save an enormous amount of electricity when looking at the big picture, but something is better that nothing. That's where the “no” came from, because in the short run, not a whole lot of electricity was saved. But more electricity will be saved as the campaign gets bigger and more countries/ participants join in on the fun. The campaign participants are close to doubling every year at the time of this article.
But in the long run (where the “yes” came from), what awareness campaigns like Earth Hour really help with is spreading the awareness of green living. Hence the “awareness campaign”, not “saving electricity campaign”. Spreading the knowledge is the most infectious and positive thing you can do right now to help our sustainability because people in general make the biggest difference. The more they're educated, the more they can help the situation.
So, are climate awareness campaigns REALLY useful? Yes.