Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

28.3.08

Saving the earth one PR release at a time.

In between dodging charges of running a 'ruthless' and 'grubby' government, New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma must welcome diversions such as this week's Earth Hour. In fact, Mr Iemma earlier this month used the event to retreat to the moral high ground:

"It's utter rubbish to say that symbolism can't lead to change. Yes it's about symbolism but it's a very powerful one - it's about saving the planet."

Without any evidence of tongue-in-cheek, Mr Iemma revealed his entire bureaucracy would take part:

Mr Iemma announced that all government departments would take part in Earth Hour at 8pm on March 29.

March 29 is a Saturday.

But surely he was bluffing when he compared his speech with those of the following three gentlemen:

Mr Iemma invoked Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King as speakers who used symbolism to inspire lasting change.


Nice company, Morris. Shame they're all dead or they'd have the butler turf you out on your ear.

Mr Iemma's disingenuity is striking. It is not symbolism to which anyone objects, but tokenism. No-one cares if someone wants to symbolise their desire to save energy by standing on his head for two weeks. As long as he switches the lights off first. Otherwise it would be totally inconsequential, apart from the headache.

Tokenism example: The Langham hotel - and its leading-edge eatery Partington's - in Auckland, New Zealand reaped invaluable publicity through this report about its intention to invoke mood lighting for an hour on Saturday night.

No doubt the Langham has form on environmentally-friendly practice. Otherwise it would look somewhat hypocritical.

Well, no. The Langham is the hotel that just two years ago sunk $12 million into a major remodel, most of which appears to have been spent on chandeliers. Its PR release effused:

"Our guests expect a true five-star environment when they stay at The Langham ... but they also want hints of home," (manager John Dick) says. "Our newly-refurbished rooms ... feature elegant ... antique-styled furniture and lights ... enjoy 42 inch plasma televisions ... introduced high speed broadband internet access in each (business) room ... a spectacular centralized dome with ornate coving, chandelier lighting ... lobby bar, The Winery, ... transformed with ... a shimmering chandelier ... . (In) Partingtons at The Langham ... (features) flamboyant drapes, which part to reveal chandeliers sparkling from a 'trompe l'oeil' sky ceiling ...

The place is bristling with electricity. But for those 3600 precious seconds of planet-saving semi-darkness, how will guests see Chef Soper's stunning creations - presumably actually cooked, using energy - and indeed, eat them without jabbing themselves in the forehead with the cutlery? The answer is soy candles:

The Langham five star hotel in Symonds St will switch off about 3000 lights to be replaced by chemical free and non-toxic New Zealand-made soy candles. The hotel would also be serving complimentary carbon-zero wine ...

Beyond parody.

1 comment:

Another Outspoken Female said...

I just did a post on http://otherrants.blogspot.com/2008/03/earth-hour-makes-me-cranky.html before I read this! Do you think the kitchen will shut down too? Patrons will be very happy to have luke warm drinks while the lights are out in the kitchen and service will be delayed by a further hour. Nice soy candles though!