What started as an energy-saving tactic at the behest of the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to highlight the urgency of climate change, has spread across the globe to hundreds of cities and millions of people. Earth Hour is a simple, and some cynics would argue, silly, collective measure to freeze our energy use for yes, an hour. But, behind the gimmick is something more valuable: a shared expression of empowerment and the ability of humans to change their circumstances – if only for an hour. This is finally good news.
As Wikipedia sagely confers, quoting Australia’s Herald Sun newspaper, this measure equates with, “taking 48,613 cars off the road for 1 hour.” But, when you multiply that by the size of this years’ event -130 countries taking part, thousands of cities and landmarks like the Acropolis, Buckingham Palace and the Eiffel Tower – it is a substantial amount of energy saved. But, the real reward is, perhaps, a reconnection with the idea that it’s not so bad to ‘do without.’ In this age of instant gratification (and recessions), privations seem an unlikely hero to be championed. Nonetheless, isn’t it just like human beings (particularly in the affluent west) to take perverse pleasure in the willful sacrifice of what is now expected and never questioned – unlimited energy.
And so it continues. The iPhone generation carries on spreading greater notions of collective importance and our ability to get involved in what 50 years ago would seem like hopeless grass roots measures. Today, they potentially affect real change. Oh, and I hope you weren’t reading anything on your computer between 8.30 and 9.30 pm, March 31 – your, and my lights should have been out.