Earth Hour A Good Start

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

March 31, 2009 Ed Cartoon

On Saturday night millions of people worldwide joined together to combat climate change by turning their power off for one hour in celebration of the second annual Earth Hour. London was one of 4,000 cities from 88 countries who took part in the global movement and was able to cut 10 per cent of its average electricity consumption " the equivalent of approximately 38,000 homes turning off their power.

Despite all this, is Earth Hour really effective?

Encouraging people to go without power, even if it is for only one hour, forces people to take notice of how much they rely on electricity and shows people how easy it is to turn lights and electronics off when they are not being used. It is effective at getting the message out about climate change and how small, collective efforts can make a big impact.

But in a society that favours instant gratification, a movement like Earth Hour sees vast participation because a task as simple as turning off one’s light for a short period of time poses no real inconvenience to someone’s life.

Impacts can be measured and released within days, providing people the opportunity to see the results of their efforts immediately. This is especially rewarding for young people who are learning about climate change for the first time and who are more likely to create lifelong energy saving habits.

However, while getting information out is important, the event does not do anything to produce long-term, lasting efforts to battle climate change. It is up to the participants to make the other 23 hours of the day " and the rest of the year " matter as well.

Lasting change takes time and costs money and people generally do not want to drastically change their lifestyle, especially when it is for a cause they will have to invest in over a long period of time before seeing any results.

This does not mean Earth Hour should be ignored. It simply means if people are serious about making a difference in the environment, it is going to take more than switching their power off once a year. It is up to everyone to become more informed outside of Earth Hour and continue to be conscious of wasteful electricity use.

Earth Hour may not be the solution to the climate change problem, but it is a start and it will hopefully get people talking about the issues.

It would also be nice to see Earth Hour become Earth Day. If people stepped up to the challenge of going a full 24 hours without power, maybe then we could see how little we actually need and how much we all take for granted.

With Earth Hour expecting to gain more momentum and enthusiasm every year, maybe we could exchange Family Day for a powerless Earth Day.

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