Sunday, March 30, 2008

What difference does one hour make?


My family and I observed Earth Hour yesterday evening, in a community that was also similarly darkened (including the business across the street). We ate our dinner by candle light and the played UNO together as we talked and caught up on each other's lives. We had so much fun we kept going - long after most of the lights in the neighbourhood had turned back on.

Critics, naysayers and unbelievers will claim we all wasted our time and that the collective efforts of millions of people around the globe mean nothing – they are wrong. It is true that only one hour is not enough to make a difference in the climate change issues facing us today, but 30 million individual people (up to 70% of Canadians according to a recent poll) across 25 countries coming together for one united cause can have an impact on anything.

Earth Hour – that saw many of the worlds famous landmarks go dark – was a gesture that was almost completely symbolic in its very nature… but symbolic of what?

The power of people to come together - the power to rally and organize those people to a common cause and raise awareness about a problem that is unique in the sense that we all face it (not equally, though, of course). One hour is the first and most simple step towards having an individual positive impact on our energy consumption and climate change issue. San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom said it best, "Energy efficiency is low-hanging fruit. Energy efficiency is the easiest thing we can do." One hour is just where it starts.

Buildings (homes/businesses/public) account for about one-third of the carbon emissions that could boost global average temperatures by as much as 4° Celsius - this century.

4° Celsius doesn't sound like much but it's more complicated than that. We live in, and depend on, a closed and complex eco-system for life. We don’t like to think of this interdependence, but the inescapable fact remains that a 4° rise in temperatures could be devastating to life on Earth.

The unbelievers should take a moment to consider how much energy they consume in their current lifestyle and how much of an impact rising demand and prices will have on them (I don’t just mean gas in the tank either, but housing costs, heating costs, food and transportation for commodities, for starters). Even if global warming is not an issue for you, I’m sure you’ll find conservation makes sense to your pocketbook and continued enjoyment of life.

Seriously though, whatever you believe the causes to be (or not be), every crop that is ruined because of weather, every water source that is depleted, every species (no matter how small) that becomes endangered, every country that is impacted negatively by climate change events will ultimately have a detrimental effect on all of us - on our ability to adapt and survive. After all we all live on the same planet.

And for those who would continue to question the value or impact of only one hour – ask yourself what a tipping point is. Look to Earth Hour on March 28, 2009 to be even bigger.

1 comment:

iBrett said...

Beatrice and I observed Earth Hour yesterday. For me it was really easy, since I was in bed, the consequence of 10 hours of traveling. However, when Beatrice told me that the windows on neighbouring buildings were darkened, I recall feeling rejoice while falling off to sleep.