Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Celebrate Earth Hour!

Reducing our home energy consumption is something that we should work at every day but once a year there is a special event that makes it easier to keep that goal top-of-mind. Earth Hour, an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), challenges people simply to turn out the lights for an hour to draw attention to the impact our energy use has on climate change. The idea is to have fun in the dark and think about how you can inject some Earth Hour spirit into your everyday life. This year’s event is on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 to 9:30.

Earth Hour is one of those great acts of global solidarity that anyone can take part in. I love how it empowers people (especially children) to be part of something that actually makes a difference. Last year 1.3 billion people took part in Earth Hour across the globe, including more than 10 million Canadians.

This year’s focus is on the role clean energy can play in reducing climate change. It’s an encouraging reminder that there are many ways to tackle the climate change challenge and reducing the energy we consume is just part of the solution.

In New Brunswick we’re on the way to generating a respectable amount of renewable energy. According to the WWF website 38% of the energy we use is renewable, 56% is not (6% is unaccounted for). We’re still burning coal and heavy oil in our power plants but we have a lot of hydro power too. The great news is that 10% of the energy we consume now comes from wind power and there is potential for our province to generate even more energy from renewable sources. But in the meantime a good chunk of our energy is “dirty”: good reason to use less.

Making changes to our energy consumption at home can make a real difference. According to Stats Canada, households contribute almost half (46%) of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions and energy use is the single biggest contributor to a home's carbon footprint. That’s more emissions than our personal use of vehicles. Lights are a small part of a home’s energy use but you’ll be surprised at how sitting in the dark really makes you contemplate your life’s dependence on the grid.

If you’d like to celebrate Earth Hour this year the WWF website has lots of great ideas for marking the event, at work, school and home.

This year we’re having friends over for a lights-out potluck and Twister by candlelight. We’ll turn the lights out early (8:30 is a little late to get started with young kids) or we might not turn them on at all.

However you choose to celebrate consider registering your participation on the Earth Hour website so you’ll be counted ( You’ll see there is a lot of fun to be had without the distraction of a TV or computer.

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