earth hour

Posted on March 30, 2008

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Critics might label Earth Hour gimmicky and deride it as the work of a few activists which would not have much long-term effect on slowing down the earth’s destruction from global warming.

But with the pretty dire situation the earth is facing, they should instead look on the bright side — every little gesture can and should count towards raising awareness and spurring on more action to combat global warming.

Earth Hour, which was adopted by 27 cities around the world on Saturday at 2000 local time, was a symbolic gesture to turn off the lights in buildings and structures around the world to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.

The World Wildlife Fund-led initiative saw cities such as Sydney, Chicago, Bangkok, Copenhagen, Dublin and San Francisco flick the light switches off at 2000 local time.

To highlight the importance of the event, cities blacked out their most prominent landmarks or buildings, such as Sydney’s Opera House and Chicago’s Sears Towers.

“The main point is not to make a significant dent in climate change, but to demonstrate the need for people to take leadership on their own to address this problem,” Richard Moss, the Fund’s vice president for climate change, told the Washington Post. “It’s not about sitting in the dark, it’s about making a serious commitment over the next year and beyond over how we contribute to climate change.”

Critics may scoff but the “black-out” actually achieved some practical results. Chicago’s John Hancock building was using the time the lights were out to change their bulbs to energy-efficient ones. In Bangkok, the city saved 73.34 megawatts of electricity, which would otherwise have generated 45.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

First started in Sydney last year, Earth Hour was also shown to have reduced energy usage by over 10 percent during the one hour of lights out.

So detractors can boo all the want but they overlook the message it sends and the tangible, albeit small, results the experiment yielded.

Building on this, World Wildlife Fund could widen the initiative by recruiting more cities and government agencies to join in the next time.

And why wait for it to be just an annual event? Be bolder. For a start, make it a monthly event. The best thing to do, of course, would be to get kids involved. That way, perhaps the awareness could be translated into a norm in their thinking and become a way of life.

Earth Hour could become Earth Forever if everybody gave it a chance and pitched in. So why not?

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