Earth Hour: 60 minutes to make a difference


This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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EarthHourThis coming Saturday, March 26, 2011, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, we will be showing our support for Mother Earth by turning off our lights. This now global event was humbly started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 with 2.2 million residents of that city switching off all non-essential lights. This idea, initiated by the WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, has now grown into an annual event of an international scale to raise awareness about the need to do something about climate change.

Wikipedia’s list of the participating countries is so comprehensive; one would wonder why anybody is not taking part in the event. Even the Antarctica is on the list! (I’m certain somebody is going to painstakingly go through this list to find out who’s being a bad boy by not participating.)

The official web site contains a wealth of information about not only the event, but climate change and the need to do something. I notice a handy countdown clock reminding us of our duty this Saturday. On the home page, you can also find a locator to find country specific sites. Click here for Canada’s web site and find out what’s happening in the Great White North!

On the About page, they offer a downloadable pocket guide to Climate Change. The PDF contains a telling quote from Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Convention: “The financial crisis is a result of our living beyond our financial means. The climate crisis is a result of our living beyond our planet’s means.” The pamphlet contains numerous stats, quotes from experts, and talk of various initiatives which need to be undertaken. Are people listening or is it business as usual?

I read a statement I have heard elsewhere:

As a result of warming, with more heat energy and water vapour in the atmosphere, climate and weather of all kinds will become more extreme. Storms, including hurricanes, may become more intense and more frequent. Wet areas will generally become wetter and dry areas drier. Droughts, which are already more frequent, will get longer and more intense, and extend to new areas – including the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and southern Africa, which can all expect substantially less rain.

The sceptics always say that things don’t feel warmer and I guess that in general, maybe that “feels” true. However, if I think over some of the headlines I’ve read in the past few years, is the first sign of global warming not more heat but more extreme weather? I can certainly think of a number of extreme weather reports.

True Story
When I was a kid, I always remember building forts in the piles of snow beside the driveway in front of the family home. By the beginning of December, we had certainly shovelled a lot of snow onto each side and the mounds provided excellent cover for snowball fights or even hollowing out a mound as a sort of igloo. That was during the 1950s. Today, it is rare that I see that amount of snow. Something has certainly changed and I only have to bring out the old family photos to see proof that our climate has different. Winters are milder than they were. Yes, I know there are a lot of doubting Thomas’s who say global warming is a myth but it seems pretty hard to explain what I have experienced first-hand. Whatever you want to call it, something is going on.

Earth Hour 2011 Official video

Energy Saved
Wikipedia rattles off some stats about how much was saved in energy sometimes translating that into an equivalent in carbon dioxide.

According to WWF Thailand, Bangkok decreased electricity usage by 73.34 megawatts, which, over one hour, is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Ireland, as a whole, had a reduction in electricity use of about 1.5% for the evening. In the three-hour period between 18:30 and 21:30, there was a reduction of 50 megawatts, saving 150 megawatt-hours, or approximately 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

And for my home town:

Toronto saved 900 megawatt-hours of electricity. 8.7% was saved if measured against a typical March Saturday night.

What doesn’t have criticism? Too little, maybe too late? What about Earth Day? Or Earth Week? Do we really have what it takes to do something truly meaningful?

The Ayn Rand Institute wrote, “Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away… Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month… Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible.” (The Real Meaning of Earth Hour By Keith Lockitch – March 23, 2009)

In my blog Let’s go green… er, black?, I talk about our need for electricity, how much coal we all may be burning to produce electricity and just what we collectively are doing and should be doing. I wrote:

A couple of years ago, I was reading an analysis in the editorial pages of the Toronto Star where the author [looked] at our green efforts. He listed off our various initiatives in North America like changing traditional light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, getting more green appliances, turning off unnecessary lights and dimming others, etc. Then he said that these types of efforts, while laudable were laughable when one took into account that at that moment, China was constructing a new coal-fired electrical power generating station every week. All of our light bulbs were dwarfed by the new developments elsewhere in the world which were leading to even higher levels of pollution.

Good question. The Kyoto Protocol aims to fight global warming. It sets out targets in the reduction of various pollutants known to contribute to this phenomenon. As of October 2010, 191 countries have ratified the agreement with one very notable exception: the United States, a country ranked by several reports as the biggest polluter on the planet.

In saying that, I don’t mean the rest of us should do nothing, but it seems obvious that only with everyone doing their part will the entire planet be a better place. In the meantime, I can switch off on Saturday and even if it’s only symbolic as opposed to making a measurable, substantial difference, it can be a start that will hopefully be seen by those who are in a position to make a decision hopefully for the better.


Wikipedia: Earth Hour
Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature, also known as World Wildlife Fund) and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Earth Hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008. Earth Hour 2011 will take place on March 26, 2011 from 8:30p.m. to 9:30p.m., at participants’ respective local time.

official web site: Earth Hour

Facebook: Earth Hour

Twitter: Earth Hour

official web site: Earth Hour for Kids
[An interactive web site with games and educational texts geared for the smaller crowd.]

Google Images: Earth Hour
[Lots of great pictures, some before and after photos]

Wikipedia: Earth Day
Earth Day is a day that is intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. It is celebrated on April 22. Some also celebrate “Earth Week” from April 16 to April 22.

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