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Turning it Off and Taking it up a Notch for Earth Hour

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Join the world in signaling support for climate action by turning your lights off for one hour, Saturday March 26th at 8:30pm (Local time)

By Naomi Devine Posted Mar 25, 2011

Earth HourYou might not think that doing something as simple as turning off the lights for an hour would make a difference for the climate, but this Saturday night you would be wrong. Earth Hour takes place March 26 at 8:30pm (local time), and participation couldn’t be easier.

The premise is simple – you can do the climate a favour by turning out the lights for one hour, signaling your support, in a visual way, for climate action. It doesn’t sound like much, but consider this: climate action is not at the top of the agenda for political leaders on either side of the US-Canada border, and is being rolled back in some cases. We can’t miss any opportunity to remind our elected officials that we care, and we expect them to do something about it.

You won’t be alone. Global participation in this event is nothing to snicker at. If this year’s event is like the past two, you will be joining over 1.3 billion people in 128 countries. That’s a staggering number when you think of it; in fact, I challenge you to think of an event with more widespread support.

The event’s enormous size catches the attention of the media, something we are always in need of when it comes to climate change.

So what can you do this year, to ensure that your effort lasts longer than an hour and has a greater impact? You can take your action a step further by:

Being counted. Sign up and pledge your support at www.earthhour.org (for the US), or www.wwf.ca/earthhour (for Canada). You can tell your story here, so that others can see what you are doing.

If you live in America, visit 350.org to find out how you can pressure the US Chamber of Commerce to stop lobbying against climate change legislation.

If you live in Canada, tell your elected officials to stop funding fossil fuel energy by sending an email to Prime Minister Harper and request that we no longer give $1.4 billion in tax subsidies to the oil, coal, and gas companies.

Purchasing the right kind of energy! Renters and homeowners can purchase green energy from Green Mountain Energy (USA), or Bullfrog Power (Canada). As an Earth Hour bonus, become a Bullfrog Power customer before April 30, 2011 and save $50 off your first bill (enter the promotional code “EarthHour11” at www.bullfrogpower.com).

Still looking for an idea of what you can do during that hour without power? Here’s a few ideas: host a dinner with friends in the dark, with appetizers that don’t require heating, play board games by candle light, take a walk with your partner, sit outside and take in the beauty of the stars.

To be honest, I haven’t always been a fan of the event, because Earth Hour focuses on what individuals can control – namely your household consumption of energy, and, by design, for only one hour of one day a year.

As a sustainability practitioner who works in the local government sector, I know that the most effective climate action we can take is the kind that focuses on systemic change. That means we need new laws, organizational practices, and regulations in order to drastically reduce energy consumption and the associated, climate altering, greenhouse gas emissions.

What changed my mind? Well, laws don’t just get changed on their own.

I was forgetting an important part of the equation – there is more than one way to push for that kind of change. Public pressure, demonstrated in ways like Earth Hour participation, plays a critical role in getting the types of systemic change I know that we need. It is difficult to demonstrate the desire to reduce energy consumption in order to affect larger change. This event helps us do that.

It is successful because it allows us to make the invisible (energy use) visible (by darkening skies across the planet). Earth Hour is the largest grassroots event in the world. Participation far exceeds the largest protests, and includes iconic buildings and structures, and governments and organizations. You can see the incredible effect in this video.

The event’s enormous size catches the attention of the media, something we are always in need of when it comes to climate change. Already I notice my Twitter and Facebook feeds filling up with articles about the event, and they will become more frequent as Saturday approaches.

This is collective global action on a massive scale, so don’t miss out! Your participation helps create the kind of pressure we need to push governments into taking greater climate action. It is up to us all to become involved and stay involved. That is the best way to ensure that your action extends beyond the hour.

So, what will you do with the lights out?

Naomi Devine is the Whistler2020 Sustainability Planner for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability. She will be attending Whistler’s first pedal powered concert for Earth Hour in 2011. Last year, she Last year she attended and photographed a lights out ball hockey game in Whistler Village, hosted by the Resort Municipality of Whistler. You can read more of her writing at www.naomidevine.com

Posted in Science and Transportation Tags , , ,
  • Dan

    Great article. I will be with my family, eating dinner by candlelight for Earth Hour. Wonder what others will be doing???

    • Guest

      A candle lit dinner sounds lovely! I'll be sitting in silence, hoping everyone participates and praying we can save our earth for our children and others to follow :)

  • Loreen

    I'll be at a dinner party, I don't think they'll want the lights off. but my lights will be off at home :)

    • TLC

      bring some candles!

    • loreen

      Well, it turned out they were one step ahead of me. At the dinner party last night, the only illumination was from candles and it looked lovely. To my surprise, most people were aware of Earth Hour and happy to be taking part!

  • Jon

    I like the idea behind this, but won't that play havok to the electrical grid, causing a power surge to those that have to consume the electricity being produced during this protest? ie hospitals, nuclear plants and grocery stores. Hope you thought this through….

  • tamm

    turning off lgihts is meant to be a gesture of support. the amount of energy saved isn't the point, and this action won't harm the grid or cause surge problems. it worked fine last year.

  • cranberrykiss

    For the last two years we've been supporting with this idea till now. And this means is a great way to save energy. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/finallyfast Finally Fast

    We did this! It's definitely nice to sit and read by candle light and have a little time machine moment. We ended up keeping the lights off all evening!

  • Dan

    Such positivity! I love this blog :)

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