Thursday, March 13, 2008

In the Dark


On Saturday March 29th, millions of people around the world will turn off their lights from 8 to 9 p.m. in a symbolic stand against global warming. This event has been dubbed "Earth Hour" and was a resounding success last year when it was introduced in Sydney. This year, it goes global.

If there really were a Church of Climate Change, surely its missionaries would embrace Earth Hour as a tool for bringing light to those in the dark. My own green evolution began with a small, seemingly insignificant step and I suspect that many on this path can trace their "awakening" to something similar. Climate Change missionaries might talk to friends and work associates about the adventure of Earth Hour. They might marvel to neighbors about the possibility of sharing a bottle of wine on a street lit only by stars. They might introduce the concept at their children's schools or on parenting message boards, touting the hour as an opportunity to educate children on pioneer life, astronomy, or our impact on the environment. They might induce restaurants to offer only candlelit dinners that night.

Of course, there is no such thing as the Church of Climate Change. Is there? It doesn't matter. We can reach through the darkness that night and revel in the buzz of human connections rather than electrical ones. On March 29, we can all be in the dark.

9 comments:

arduous said...

I have mixed feelings on this, mostly because I guess I feel like an hour of turning your lights off IS merely symbolic AND kind of a pain for me. My electricity usage is already 11% of the average American's. Why do I have to sit around in the dark for an hour for symbolism? If I thought that all the people who participated were likely to incorporate turning lights off an hour earlier each night, it would feel different somehow. But I feel like most people do it once, and then stop because not having lights at night is really annoying. Even No Impact Man hated it.

OTOH it is raising awareness and perhaps some companies will think about this and realize that the lights in their office buildings don't need to be on 24/7. And if it actually worked, and absolutely EVERYONE turned off their lights for an hour it would be pretty cool to see the city turn dark and the night sky light up. So, maybe I should stop being such a grump!

Green Bean said...

I do hear you, Arduous. I guess my hope is that for some percentage of people - likely a small percentage - this event may be a catalyst for future acts. For myself, I woke up on Earth Day. How corny is that? I decided to start bringing my own bags. That tiny little step inspired me to make more and more changes. I'm sure that majority of folks will see it as a one time thing but if we can just reach a few people who will move beyond, then I think the event is meaningful.

arduous said...

Waking up on Earth Day isn't corny at all! I myself remember seeing No Impact Man on The Colbert Report and thinking wow that's cool, but then not really doing anything, and then a few months later I saw Evan Osnos AGAIN on the Colbert Report and he was talking about how the demand for cashmere is causing all these problems, and it was like someone flipped a switch and I was a changed person. So basically if it weren't for Colbert, I would be a totally different person? I don't know, that's weird.

But anyway, you're right. Even if only a few people change more habits it will be something.

seeded said...

Is that 8-9 local time or GMT?

Green Bean said...

Arduous: isn't it interesting how suddenly something flips the switch and you're a different person. :)

Seeded: It's my understanding that it is local time - at least that's how its being promoted in San Francisco.

Theresa said...

I've signed up for Earth Hour too. I know not everyone thinks these small gestures really matter, but just like for other people who've commented, it just took one small thing to flip the switch in my head, and I've been a different person ever since.

I also really like the whole collective action idea with Earth Hour. I have visions of the astronauts in the space station looking down(up?) and seeing the lights dim, all over the world in successive time zones, just a little bit.

Oh, and I have another vision of someone out on the town that night, and suddenly the lights go off in a whole bunch of buildings all around them, and he/she has no idea what's going on. Then,the next day hears about it in the news, and realizes that there are a LOT of people who all pulled together to do just one thing. That would be a very powerful statement of collective will, I think.

Kate said...

I don't think it is 'just' symbolic though. Last year in Sydney Earth Hour actually resulted in significantly lowered carbon emissions. Sure it would be better if everyone reduced their impact all of the time, but the footage of Sydney switching off stuck with me (I live in Melbourne).

Also, I figure me and the Bloke would go to bed early that night... so it's a win win situation.

Green Bean said...

Theresa and Kate: I agree with you guys. There is no reason not to participate and spread the word. It DOES amount to something in terms of carbon emissions and it will, I'm sure, get the ball rolling for some people some where. It is also an easy topic of conversation for me to sneak with other moms who are vaguely interested in going green. What parent doesn't welcome a fun, educational opportunity for their kids. :)

Beany said...

A few months back we decided to quit turning on lights at night and just make do with candle light. It was a nice exercise the main one being, it was much easier to go to sleep when there aren't bright lights turned on.

And I too dislike all these symbolic events: blog for earth day, live aid, Support our troops stickers, etc, etc. I'd rather the issue be ignored instead of some silly little gesture that doesn't amount to anything.

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