Earth Hour 2009 takes place this Saturday from 8:30PM to 9:30PM. Is Earth Hour a great way to save energy and promote sustainable living? Or is it perhaps just a waste of time and causing an unnecessary spike on our electricity circuits?
Earth Hour originated in Australia in 2007 but quickly expanded to 35 countries in 2008. In 2009 there are already 82 countries committed to Earth Hour. Google will feature a “dark” homepage on the day of Earth Hour, and last year The Weather Network (Canada’s leading source of weather information) moved its studio outdoors and filmed the show under LED lighting for the hour.
Earth Hour is not without controversy. A colleague of mine warned me not to “mislead people” about Earth Hour. His position is that power generation has a certain point in which it is most efficient and having a large amount of people turn off their lights and then turn them on at the same time will create a massive spike in the system and cause more trouble than it’s worth. He also noted that having millions of people burn candles will just end up emitting more carbon dioxide into the air anyway.
Perhaps it is true that Earth Hour will not make a dramatic savings in energy. But I look at it differently. To me, Earth Hour is not about saving electricity. It’s about creating awareness by getting people to talk about our energy consumption and how we can reduce the harm we’re causing on the earth.
Shutting our lights off for an hour and dealing with a mass spike in electricity circuits is a small sacrifice to make to get billions of people around the world to become more aware of the harm our lifestyles are causing to the earth. Even the Toronto company that has to deal with the spike in electricity is a “proud sponsor of Earth Hour”.
I’m planning to spend my entire Saturday night without electricity, and I invite my readers to do the same, (or join me). Instead of using candles though I’ll be utilizing my Freeplay Indigo Lantern which is powered by human energy using a wind-up crank.
To me, the very fact that so many people are talking about Earth Day already makes it a success.