FROM getting a chance to dance naked since it’s dark everywhere to chewing some serious cud about our planet, most of us were there and paradoxically ‘in the dark’ this March 29th evening.
The Earth Hour initiative saw many newborns joining in the twilight hour and clawed across some 160 countries in its own tiny and big ways.
It may be a first for Times Square in New York to call a specialist to tune off the ‘always-on’ new year ball but it was volunteerism-as-usual for many climate
warriors across the globe, including Middle East, Australia, Singapore, US, Germany, India and many other regions.
A glance at how Twitterati felt and spread the word and post-hour excitement is adequate to convey that initiatives like these can draw enough support, at least from a slice of population that can make an effort to live without usual urban conveniences at least for an hour, for a good cause.
Some people asked: We should have #earthhour everyday to really help conserve energy. Why do we only do it once a year?. Some pushed the boundary: Let us go beyond #earthhour and do more to reduce #energy consumption.
Some kept urging: Turn off your screen. Take in the stars. Some shifted the torch: This year #EarthHour in India is also about switching to renewable energy!
Some enjoyed eating a chicken ceasar salad with Mom and some pondered as they gazed into a star-lit sky: You can’t spend even one hour in darkness, imagine next gen living like that.
There were the likes of Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, too though opining their not-so-enthusiastic views: #EarthHour event is an ineffective feel-good event. It does not reduce CO2 and distracts us from the real problems. When 1.3bn people live w/o electricity. Celebrating darkness at #EarthHour sends the wrong message.
A US Today article chimed in with the sound of brickbats of criticism arguing that: “Almost 3 billion people still burn dung, twigs and other traditional fuels indoors to cook and keep warm. These fuels give off noxious fumes that are linked to 4.3 million deaths each year, mostly women and children. In fact, it was the advent of widespread electrical power that freed us from these harmful practices that still affect large parts of the developing world.”
It even remarked that celebrating darkness signals a turn away from an ever brighter future and pointed out how climate policies keep making electricity more expensive, hurting the poor again.
Going by the International Energy Agency estimates circa 2035, we will produce just 2.6% of our energy from wind and under 1% from solar.
Coming back to the people with pom-poms, it was reported that South Africans saved a roughly 575 megawatts (MW) of electricity during Earth Hour as per State electricity company Eskom’s measurements against typical consumption for 8.30pm to 9.30pm on an average Saturday evening.
Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. It continues to whip up positive black-out year after year but it would be great to see it skimming more than transient froth and gradually churning out more lasting impact.
Political, industrial, economical, social and geo-policy views aside, if we break the hour down at an individual level, at least we saw some clarity in that black hour – the fact that while it may be a tad out-of-kilter and not-so-convenient letting go of that TV episode, that phone call, that sms, that bright bulb, that AC cocoon or that FB update for a few minutes; we can actually manage to unleash ourselves from the silk cord we have trapped ourselves into and of our own volition.
One hour. One finger. That’s all it takes.