I have signed up for Earth Hour 2008!
On March 31st, 2007, Sydney, Australia turned its lights off for one hour. Over two million Australians turned off their lights, along with 2100 businesses. The project had aimed for a 5% reduction in energy use during that hour - they got over a 10% reduction, the equivalent of taking 48000 cars off the road for a year!
It is often asked, What can just one person do in the face of global climate change to make a difference? Why bother trying when what I do isn't even a drop in the bucket? The thing is, drops add up into rivers, and snowflakes add up into avalanches. No, I can't do everything, but I can do something! The people in Sidney knew this, and their Earth Hour 2007 demonstrated that small actions done by many people can have a huge collective effect.
Earth Hour 2008 is a global event, being held on Saturday, March 29th, at 8 pm your local time. Particpants are asked to do just one thing: turn their lights off for sixty minutes. Imagine how much we could reduce global carbon emissions by just this one simple action! What if, this year, ten times as many people, 22 million, turned their lights off for an hour. That would mean that in the course of that hour, we would take the equvalent of nearly half a million cars off the road for one year. I can almost hear the planet sighing in relief at the prospect.
Now, imagine this: the people who turn their lights off for an hour on March 29th, decide to do the same once a week from now on. Then they figure they can turn the TV and computer off too, for an extra hour a week, and maybe don't need to leave the water on when they brush their teeth. Maybe a child or teenager will decide to make water and wildspace conservation their life's work, or an adult will stand up to the property "developer" trying to pave over the community green space. Imagine!
Events like Earth Hour and Earth Day could be seen as symbolic at best, or as gimmicky and shallow at worst. But I don't think so. As more and more of these kinds of events occur, it won't seem weird to be "green" anymore. Some people may not go beyond changing their behavior more than intermittently, but others could have a 'eureka' moment where their world view changes forever. If anyone had told me 5 years ago that I would be a vegetarian who flushes her toilet with greywater from the shower, I wouldn't have believed them. But it only takes something small to change your outlook forever. Who knows what big changes could come from some small action during Earth Hour 2008!
If you would like to join in this event, you can sign up here. Then, get ready to flick that switch to "off" at 8 pm on Saturday, March 29th!
Picture courtesy this guy's photo album.