Saturday, March 29, 2008

Earth Hour, tonight Saturday March 29

The second annual observance of Earth Hour, is scheduled world wide for 8 to 9 PM tonight (local time, not simultaneously), Saturday March 29. Cities, communities, corporations, and individuals around to globe are being asked to voluntarily turn off all the lights, TV, stereos, computers, microwaves, and other electricity consuming accouterments of modern life for one hour.

The idea is for each city/community to cut the power at their own time zone's 8:00 PM, so that there is an effect of rolling darkness following the setting sun.

The first Earth Hour in 2007 was a project of the World Wide Fund for Nature Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald. More information is available at the Earth Hour - North America web page and The Daily Kos (where there are some nice comments about thing people might do instead). .


E. R. Dunhill said...

Thank you for sharing this. I'm a fan of any event that gets people thinking about the way they use energy and other resources.
I wonder, though, how effective a program like this is. The website makes reference to people holding events by candlelight, turning off appliances, &c. I don't see a huge energy savings in the use of candles for lighting an event. After all, most people don't make their own candles (let alone from local materials), which means shipping lots of candles, which are heavy, as compared to an efficient bulb. And those appliances may lay idle for an hour, but I'd expect that people will make up for their use before and after that hour; the dishes will get clean, whether at 7:00, 8:00, or 9:00. Beyond that, turning off a refrigerator or a thermostat for an hour (I don't suppose many will actually do this) can result in a net loss of energy.
This effort underscores how important it is for each person to understand what it is they're really using. It's also a strong case for something you've advocated in the past, a broad shift in patterns of living and consuming. If we produce and consume more effectively and more efficiently, we won't have to turn the lights out for an hour. Seeing the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge go dark is a powerful symbol, though.

Sue said...

Good points all, ERD. Our weather was mild (about 65 degrees outside which was actually 1 degree warmer than it was inside the house) so we flipped the master switch and turned off electricity for the entire house. An hour during which we might normally have had two computers running, and the television going, as well as lights in four rooms in the house. We also decided to eat a cold supper (sandwiches) rather than hurry up and fix something before turning the power off. Rather than candles we used our tiny little LED headlamps which were just enough to illuminate the Trivial Pursuit board. After turning the power back on, we decided not to turn all the computers and stuff back on, so we saved some of that energy too.

The next day, I took a few moments to look at photos posted on the Earth Hour website. None of the cities that participated really went "dark," because no one turned off street lights, and of course all the vehicular traffic still had headlamps. What struck me however, was how much totally decorative non-essential lighting there is in cities: all the public buildings, government buildings, office towers, arenas, etc. that use huge flood lights to bathe their facades in light, or create decorative outlines to a tower. What it really pointed out to me was how much total waste of electricity there is.