Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Difference an Hour Can Make

The Difference an Hour Can Make: Nations Ready for Earth Hour February 29th
by C. L. Cook
It may seem a diminution of the annual Earth Day commemorations held for more than 25 years in March, but the debut of Earth Hour on the 29th day of February has the immediate potential to effect a measurable change.

The difference is one of approach; where the global marches, speeches, concerts, and letter writing events integral to Earth Day events are great, besides participation levels on the street, there is little to be tangibly taken away at the end of the day. Earth hour, by contrast is a direct appeal to everyone, everywhere to synchronize their sentiments, if not their watches, and at the appointed local hour turn off the electric switch for an hour.

If all goes accordingly, a dark wave will roll from time to time zone around the planet at 8pm on this Leap Year's 29th of February. Power usage can be monitored, and for the first time, a global picture of just how much electricity is used across the planet, and from that extrapolations can be made to determine what the generation of that power requires.

More than a unique opportunity to gauge our collective power use, Earth Hour also provides us the chance to get together and recognize ourselves as a single global community, capable of common action determined to ameliorate, for one day at least, a portion of the demand our modern way of life make on the planet.

In Canada, federal, provincial, and municipal govenments are partnering with business, unions, and grassroots organizations to mazimize the benefits of the hour long recess in business as usual. Dalton McGuinty, premier of Ontario, Canada's most industrious province has signed on for the event that will see Toronto, the country's biggest city joining with other world capitals to turn out the lights. McGuinty is urging other jurisdictions to follow Toronto, and Ontario's lead, saying;

"If we can do it for one hour of one day in one year, surely there are other things that we can do around the house and through our businesses to reduce our use of energy."

From capital city, Ottawa, an ebullient city mayor, Larry O'Brien talked up the event to a meeting of the local Chamber of Commerce, saying;

"The event was such a sparkling success that it not only attracted more than 2,100 businesses and 2.2 million participants and doubled their reduction target, but their collective effort resulted in the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road." Adding;
"We can all do our part, not only to reduce electricity consumption but also to send a very powerful message to the world, that as a city, Ottawa is serious about the business of the environment."
Individuals and businesses can sign up to the Earth Hour website to get more information on the event and ways to participate by visiting their website,, and Toronto's Star newspaper has comprehensive coverage of the event and issues at hand at their website, found here:, where the following slideshow appears.

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