Denver Green Channel

The roots of the sustainability movement in Denver

It’s Just One Hour

by Robbie - March 11th, 2011.
Filed under: Energy, Resources, Uncategorized.

Earth Hour was born in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour.

Earth Hour is a world-wide event. Cities and countries across the globe will turn off the lights for one hour between 8:30 and 9:30, local time, Saturday, March 26th.

It’s not widely touted here in the States yet, but according to figures from the World Watch Institute, “People in the United States and Canada consume 2.4 times as much energy at home as those in Western Europe,” We are gradually increasing our observation of Earth Hour every year here in the US. This year the Empire State Building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip, Niagara Falls and Mount Rushmore are all shutting off the lights to observe the event with the rest of the planet.

Why? Because unplugging for one hour proves that we can go without lights, computers, TVs and other non-essential appliances and still have a nice hour. It gives us a break from our technology daze and gives resources a break from being ceaselessly tapped. And it’s just one hour.

Obviously this does not apply to iron lungs, just non-essentials.* It will still make an impact.

Although it’s tough to convince business owners to stay open for that hour or turn off even just the accessory lights for one hour, it’s worth suggesting. Or, of course, you could spend a nice Earth Hour at home.

I see Earth Hour as an opportunity to unplug and slow down for one hour. It’s a statement to yourself, your community and the world that you are willing to challenge our hyper-powered lifestyle. And with a little imagination, it can be an adventure. As with any adventure, it’s more fun if you’ve done a little prep.

First, assemble your Earth Hour survival kit. Here are just a few ideas. It may or may not include:

1. Other people. Maybe you’d like some time to yourself, or maybe it’s time for a gathering.
2. Candles (no paraffin or lead wicks, please) or oil lamps
3. One or several acoustic musical instruments
4. One or several accomplished story tellers, or non-storytellers who aren’t afraid to wing it
5. A thermos containing a hot beverage.
6. A clay oven or fire pit in the yard-and don’t forget several blankets and layers of warm clothing-it’s only technically spring, after all.
7. Telescope or just binoculars for stargazing, moon viewing or counting how many of your neighbors even know what Earth Hour is.
8. Board games
9. Kinetic toys like poi and hoops (fire can be fun, but strictly observe all safety precautions if you play)
10. Alcoholic beverages and/or food (never drink and spin fire)
11. Poetry

I suggest a poem to read by lamp or candlelight during Earth Hour, particularly for kids of any age who are afraid of the dark. It’s a favorite childhood poem of mine by Ray Bradbury called, “Switch On The Night,” which the publisher’s synopsis describes this way: “A little boy likes lanterns and lamps, but he doesn’t like light switches because they turn off the light. Then one day, a little girl named Dark shows up at his door. She helps the boy to see light switches as turning on the night, rather than turning off the light.”

For more about Earth Hour, check out these URLs:

http://www.earthhour.org/
http://www.darksky.org/mc/page.do;jsessionid=82FA482BC576971269F6B5F1C9E40B87.mc1?sitePageId=119791
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/earth-hour-make-a-difference.php
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/article675948.ece

* Special thanks to my friend and podcast partner Vince Curran for the line about iron lungs.

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