However, due to in part environmental illiteracy, some people actually increase their pollution output during the hour. The Christian Science Monitor reported that
And during Earth Hour, what will most participants use for illumination? Candles. The Earth Hour website is filled with announcements – from New Zealand to Hong Kong to Serbia – of restaurants hosting candlelit dinners and clubs holding candlelit acoustic concerts, along with lots of tips on what to do at home during the electricity-free hour, which includes taking a candlelit bath or playing board games by candlelight.
All these burning wicks raise the question: Are the emissions from these candles worse for the climate than simply leaving the lights on? After all, candles emit carbon dioxide too.
The answer: It depends on what kind of candles you use, how many of them you burn, and where you get your electricity from.
Most candles are made of paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil. Burning a paraffin candle for one hour will release about 10 grams of carbon dioxide.
As Australian blogger Enoch the Red pointed out after last year's Earth Hour that an average Australian who tries to replace all the light produced by an incandescent bulb with light cast by parrifin candles will result in about 10 times the greenhouse emissions.
Dr. Bjorn Lomborg also pointed pollution increases during Earth Hour (PDF) and pointed out the irony of Earth Hour because the use of energy brought humanity out of the dark ages and into time where we could actively protect and improve our environment.