What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

26 March 2011

Earth Hour

Not to be confused with Earth Day, which comes to us on April 22nd: today we have Earth Hour. It happens at 8:30 PM local time, so it's kind of a rolling thing around the world. Like New Year.

What is it? Well, a few years ago, some folks in Sydney turned off their lights & other electric stuff "to take a stand against climate change". Five years later, it's gone global and for some has become a family tradition-- they turn the lights off, light some candles, and play games or whatnot for an hour. Which I think is brilliant.

I've ranted and muttered against Earth Hour in the past, but I've mostly come round. I still have a hard time seeing past the downside: that people might feel they've done their part and will spend the rest of the year not considering the impact of their actions. I think Earth Hour is great, but please don't stop at 9:30 and think that's all there is to it!

But my real gripe, if you will, is with businesses. So many businesses make a big production out of shutting their lights off for an hour today, when I must admit I'd be more impressed if they'd commit to shutting off the lights for an hour every day. Or two hours, or four. I always think of that scene in the movie That Thing You Do when the main character (Guy) is always forgetting to turn off the neon lights on the front of his father's store at the close of business, much to his father's annoyance. What a change from 1964 to today, when not only the neon, but also the indoor lights, are on 24/7 in most shops. (I understand the need for the indoor lights-- security cameras and all that-- but the neon signs? Give them a break!)

The TV networks are the worst, though. They'll often have a special broadcast for Earth Hour, including a few brief minutes when they shut off the lights in the studio, only to turn them back on after the commercial break to finish the broadcast. Doesn't having the broadcast send the wrong message? I mean, mightn't people decide to turn off the lights but leave on the TV to see what Brian Williams or Diane Sawyer have to say about the importance of turning off the lights? Don't get me wrong, I first heard about Earth Hour in 2008 because of a segment on the news-- but does it have to be during the actual time frame? I'd love to see a TV station who is brave enough to forgo programming during Earth Hour and instead truly turns off the lights and runs a test pattern with an Earth Hour PSA on it. That network would have my loyal viewing for life, I can assure you.

So! All that to say: Earth Hour. Tonight. 8:30. What will you do with your light-free hour?


Mary Vaughn said...

There are so may options I won't bore you. I have this thing about not turning something on if I'm not using it. Several years ago I got rid of cable which means my tv doesn't run each hour I'm awake. It made a difference I could see in my power bill. Imagine if everyone only turned something on when they needed it for as long as they were actually using it.
I still watch about 2 hrs a week with my HD antenna. ;0)

Kittie Howard said...

My hub and I will probably do what we did last year, just sit and talk. We have skylights so it's kinda fun, actually. I also have a grip about how businesses could shut off some of those lights. It's all waaaaay too much!

Charlie's Church of Christ said...

just found out about Earth hour at 10am... we don't use lights much during the day, maybe it should be a night thing for us.

Brandon Price said...

Google has been praised and criticized over the last several years for turning their homepage black during earth day (can't remember if it was for the hour or for the day now). The funny thing is, people said, is that it actually takes more energy to generate a fully black screen than a fully white one. Interesting.

Yeah, I try to be more conscious of that stuff, but it's hard when it's just a part of the culture you grew up in. And also to balance some things with facts. I heard once that it actually costs more for a fluorescent bulb (in a bathroom, for example) to be turned on and off, than to leave on for the duration of the day.

Good food for thought regardless...

Su said...

@Mary: That's pretty much what we do, too. The only things we leave "on" are the computers, and we keep those in sleep mode when not in use.

@Kittie: That sounds marvellous!

@Charlie: The sun isn't down for you by 8:30? Jealous! We still have about a month before it stays light that long.

@Brandon: I've heard that, too (about the lights, not Google), but I always hear different time frames. Like all day/four hours/one hour. I'm waiting for whoever it is to get their stories straight so I know what to do with my florescent lights.

Ruth Teal said...

I like your blog! I'm following you. RuthieTootieWishes

Su said...

Cool, thanks! I shall do the same for you!

Nas Dean said...

Duing the daytime I even feel guilty about leaving the computer on. And during nighttime we all have the habit of switching lights off if we are leaving a room. But you're making good points here.

RJR said...

As I pass shops that are closed, I cant help thinking humanity would save a lot of electric if shop owners and supermarkets turn out the lights when they went home !

Ps found you via A-Z :)


Su said...

@Nas: All good habits! We do the same; Earth Hour truthfully wasn't that much of a change for us.

@RJR: Yep, I think so, too. I haven't started checking out the A-Z bloggers yet, but I'll come by to see you right away!