Unlike last year when a similar token effort was almost done with before I even knew about it, there seems to have been a larger effort devoted to getting the message out about Earth Hour which is appropriate given its global reach.
Now into its third year since being started in Australia in 2007, Earth Hour is a simple premise: turn off your non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour starting Saturday March 28 at 20:30, local time. In my opinion, it is a completely symbolic effort. Actual energy usage may decline, energy production won’t. Environmental changes also play a big part. The Saturday on which Earth Hour fell last year saw temperatures 12°C lower than the previous week in Calgary, Canada, and consequently energy demand rose 3.6%.
I’m not saying that highlighting the cause is a bad thing but people shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back for an hour spent in reduced lighting conditions. We need to change our habits permanently and start thinking differently. Thinking about cradle-to-grave: the energy used in production, transportation, usage and disposal or recycling of products at the end of their life cycles.
I expect that rather than sit in the dark, many people will light candles. It may surprise them to find that this could be around ten times worse for the environment.
So, knock down your thermostat by a degree or two. Take the train instead of the plane. Concentrate your products and learn to pack more efficiently. Stop pouring hot water down the drain. Turn off unused PCs. Get rid of your bottled water cooler and get a plumbed in version fitted. Buy a lighter coloured car.
That last idea may sound ridiculous but the theory behind it has been confirmed by Mythbusters no less and is just the kind of thinking that we’ll need if we want to really make a difference.