Will Earth Hour really make a difference?
Earth Hour 2009 has a nice buzz around it, in contrast to last year, when it passed by almost incognito. Just look at the response this year to Earth Hour, a global event initiated by WWF Australia and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007. Compared to 35 countries who participated in 2008, today we’ll see people from more than 2100 countries, switching off their lights and all non-essential electrical and electronic devices, between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm local time, and bask in the darkness of the sky. At least in theory. We’ll see what happens tonight!
Will it really make a difference?
Globally, we emit 27 billion tons of CO2 every year. Will turning off our lights for merely an hour, for only one day in a year make a difference? I don’t think it will even scratch the surface of the problem, and in all the hype surrounding Earth Hour, we must not be lulled into a sense of complacency about the sheer magnitude of the problem of global warming.
Where Earth Hour does make a huge impact is at a symbolic level. Precisely because the scale of the issue of global warming is so large, this act helps to keep it on our radar screen, and perhaps a little higher on the political agenda.
If your city turns truly dark tonight, it will only go to show how much of a difference our collective actions can make. It’s a learning for all of us to extend that lesson to other areas of our lives too, including recycling, reducing our consumption, changing the quality of our consumption to environmentally friendly options.
Personally, I don’t really mind more Earth Hours, once a month, maybe even once a week. We’ll manage, for Earth’s sake. Besides, it would be rather nice to see the stars in the city skies a bit more often, and give ourselves a break from all the electrical and electronic gadgets that rule our lives.
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