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On Monday, 29th of March 2010, New Zealand’s 3news‘s morning news and lifestyle show Sunrise ran several pieces on Earth Hour, an international event intended to draw attention to the relationship between personal electricity consumption and climate change. One of these segments was dedicated to critics of the Earth Hour concept and featured an interview with Rick Giles (president of ACT on Campus, the youth wing of NZ’s neoliberal ACT Party) a proponent of “Edison Hour”, which Giles described as “a celebration of technology and the use of energy, rather than the opposite which seems to be the Earth Hour’s promoted idea.”
As Giles and the interviewer, Oliver Driver, discussed criticism of Earth Hour, the interview became increasingly heated with Driver attempting to link Giles’ position to the wider debate on climate change, and Giles somewhat awkwardly deflecting questions until Driver asked directly (starting at 2:39 in the video above) whether Giles believed in man-made climate change:
Driver: Do you believe in man-made climate change?
Giles: No, not at all.
Driver And what do you base that on?
Giles: Well, based on that noone’s brought the evidence forth that can counter what I understand presently, but I don’t even…I think that my argument is…
Driver: Hang on, noone’s brought the evidence forward except a huge coalition of scientists across the world.
Giles: Well, let’s concede it…man-made climate change, I think that my argument is so powerful…
Driver: Which is?
Giles: …that it’s not necessarily, it’s not necessary to talk about it.
This statement provoked amused disbelief from Driver, and rapidly became the signal moment of the interview. Soon a Facebook fan page appeared dedicated to “Rick’s powerful argument”, with users adding comments such as “How can i possibly refute an argument so powerful? I can’t even talk about how overwhelmed i am at this huge argument” and images such as:
Inevitably, a Downfall video was also uploaded to Youtube:
The original Youtube video has (as of 11 June 2010) nearly 35,000 views and the Downfall parody has less than 5,000. Note however that most New Zealanders would have watched the interview on 3news’ website. The phrase “I think my argument is so powerful that it’s not necessary to talk about it” briefly became a highly recognisable meme for New Zealanders on the internet.
The meme proved shortlived, however. Although the Facebook group continues to attract attention (9,080 members as of 11 June 2010) it has largely devolved into debates over climate change, rather than discussion of and admiration for Rick’s powerful argument.
One final note: less than two weeks later, Sunrise was cancelled, which may well be a coincidence, but could also be taken as evidence that Rick’s argument was more powerful than he was able to express.
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