Thursday, March 25, 2010

Celebrate Earth Hour, Saturday, March 27 (8:30-9:30)

Saturday March 27, from 8:30 to 9:30, is Earth Hour, a global event that invites you to have fun in the dark as a way to speak out against climate change.

Earth Hour started as a single event in Sydney Australia in 2007. In that first year 2.2 million residents and businesses took part by turning out their lights for an hour on one coordinated evening. The result was a 10 per cent reduction in power draw on the grid which prevented 25,000 tones of carbon dioxide emissions.

Last year Earth Hour grew to one billion participants worldwide, ten million of which were Canadians. Who would have thought that a 60 minute event could change the world?

You can consider Earth Hour a global political movement, a convincing statement that we think the environment is important. No wise politician (and I’m not being facetious) would ignore it: More than half of Canadian adults took part in Earth Hour in 2009 and this year, on the heels of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, organizers are expecting participation to be even greater.

I’m all for the political agenda of the event but I think the potential of Earth Hour goes beyond politics. It’s proof that the world doesn’t stop when the power goes out and that there are a lot of fun, off-grid things to do in an evening. (Wouldn’t it be great if we were a little less dependent on the power grid for our evening’s entertainment?)

Earth Hour can be as fun as a childhood power outage with all the convenience of a well-planned party. (A meal can be cooked and ready to serve. No stumbling in the dark looking for flashlights.) I have fond childhood memories of the Groundhog Gale and a Christmas Day power outage where everything but the already-cooked turkey was prepared on the woodstove. My mom may have been near heart failure but it was like a grand adventure for us kids.

Why not recreate the adventure by planning your own celebration with family and friends:

- If you have an outdoor fireplace, invite your neighbours over for a chat by the fire. Toast marshmallows or make s’mores.
- Share a candlelit meal with family or friends, or just you and someone special. You can be intrepid and cook the meal on the woodstove, or make a fondu, to reduce your evening’s carbon footprint even more.
- Play cards or a board game by candlelight.
- Stargaze.
- Sit by the fire and chat
- Bundle up and go for a walk
- Read outloud by candlelight

Give it a try and you’ll discover that togetherness feels different when the power is out. We engage more with one another without the distractions of television or the computer and I think we listen better in the dark.

However you choose to celebrate consider registering your participation on the Earth Hour website so you’ll be counted ( The site will also provide real-time updates on the event across Canada and around the world.

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