Earth Hour 2009
This Saturday (28th March) marks an effort to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. For a global problem, the initiative needs to be global, and so it is proving with Earth Hour – a worldwide initiative which recommends that every business and household switch off its lights and non-essential electrical appliances between the hours of 8:30 and 9:30 pm. By doing this, it is hoped that the amount of energy wasted will come down not only on Saturday night but, given the awareness raised by Earth Hour, people will take the decision to keep all non-essential appliances off when they are not in use. Earth Hour 2009 is the second annual worldwide celebration, but the movement has been in place since 2005.
Originally celebrated in Thailand in 2005, Earth Hour arose again in Australia in 2007, with lights going out across Sydney at 7:30pm. Last year was the first time that it officially became an international movement however, with thirty-five countries getting involved on a governmental level, and in all 400 cities taking part. Monuments such as the Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Bangkok’s Wat Arun Temple and the CN Tower all switched off non-essential lighting for the day. This year, the number of countries and cities participating has gone up by a huge amount, with 82 countries involved and more than 2100 cities. With the United Nations Climate Change Conference due to take place in December, organizers are hoping that the event has as great a level of success as possible.
Although it has had its critics, Earth Hour is viewed by and large as a major method of raising awareness. The amount of energy saved on the evening will, it is true, be dwarfed by the amount used during the rest of the day, and there are many who view the event of tokenism. The environmentalist response to this must be to point out that if one must consider it to be symbolism, it will at the very least be symbolic of differences we can all make in our own energy consumption, and in the use of energy in general. With so man y countries and cities already taking part in the campaign, the importance of as high a level of compliance as possible to demonstrate to national governments the public desire for action on climate change is essential.
100+ cities in Canada are signed up to the event – a sign of national feeling on the issue – and when you realize that the idea at the outset of this year for the organizers was to get 1000 in total worldwide, the fact that this has been more than doubled is something quite astonishing to behold. For the first time, there will be participation from Africa, with Kenya and South Africa both signed up. India and China – each of which has a population of over one billion people, have also agreed to participate. This is a real measure of what people power can achieve.
To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the Thegreenlivingblog.com website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to A Dawn Journal. This article originally published on the above website on March 28, 2009.
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