28 March 2009: Earth Hour - 3rd edition

It has been a year already…hard to believe but alarmingly true: time to prepare for the upcoming event then. …Many of you must have guessed that I’m not talking about my birthday, which I do not particularly care for, but a rather more important global happening: Earth Hour.

Earth Hour encourages public participation through small scale, individual actions: by switching off all lights and superfluous electrical appliances at home or at work for an hour, between 8:30 and 9:30PM local time on Saturday, March 28.

Created by the WWF and started in 2007 in Sidney, Australia — when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour — the event quickly spread to most major world cities, with hundreds of landmarks, thousands of organisations, and millions — 50 of them in 2008 — of people taking part. In a city like Bangkok electricity usage decreased by 73MWh, equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Christchurch, New Zealand, reported a drop of 13% in electricity demand. (Source: Wikipedia on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Hour)

The goal in 2009 is to reach a billion participants: a billion votes, according to the organisers, for Earth, and against global warming, a powerful message for the world’s representatives who will convene in Copenhagen in December to discuss climate change at the UN COP15 conference.

Related possibilities are, as usual, infinite: environmental website TreeHugger for instance suggests that if Google were to switch from a white to a black homepage for good, it would save about 750MWh a year. See here for full details, and check this Google-powered search engine called Blackle.
On a similar note, ecoIron, a blog that provides reports and commentary on all aspects of green computing and sustainable technologies in IT, calls out to all web designers to think about the environment in their work by using Energy-C, their low-wattage colour palette. So we won’t even have to decide between monotonous black websites and saving the planet.

I personally made my choice some time ago when I first launched this blog of mine, but to be honest I was more concerned about style and professional consistency than anything else…would I have swapped to white, maybe even only for a day, if that had meant saving energy and send a message at the same time? Probably. Would you? Or do you also think that this is only greenwash?

The important point here is to understand how change can be achieved through means that are rather effortless indeed. The simple gesture of switching your lights off for an hour has the power to show that several small individual actions contribute to the achievement of a much larger goal.

We can all do something: the future is in hour hands, or in this case, on our fingertips.


Francis Bell | Monday, 02 November, 2009

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