The first Earth Hour in 2007 was a brilliant, visual phenomenon.
The city of Sydney fell into darkness for an hour, with just the ANZAC memorial in Hyde Park remaining illuminated. Energy Australia reported a drop of 10.2 percent in energy use, saving 24.86 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Put into perspective, that’s the equivalent of taking 48,613 cars off the road for an hour.
The message was clear. A little action by each of us makes a big difference, really quickly.
But did we carry on after that?
Did the big businesses in the city start switching their lights off every weekend?
Did we start making the effort to switch off and unplug at home every day? Sometimes we did, but I think we were motivated more by our power bills than by environmental concern.
The last few years, Earth Hour has been paid lip service by many big companies and other organisations in the public eye, just to make sure that they couldn’t be accused of not caring. The City of Sydney Council goes to the trouble and effort of promoting Earth Hour…then ironically not long after, supports Vivid Sydney, which is all about needlessly lighting things up in the name of art!
This year, Earth Hour wants to talk to us about the Great Barrier Reef. You see, the reef is dying (still). So we all need to make a pledge to save the reef, preferably by hosting or attending a “gathering”, which seems to involve sitting holding hands round a campfire on Saturday night while watching a doco about the reef on Channel Ten. A useful education exercise for the under-16’s perhaps, but don’t go trying to guilt me into getting involved.
I’m happy to skip the gathering bit, and get straight on to some practical action. I don’t want the reef to die; reefs are pretty and important and stuff! How can we, the people of Earth, help stop this marine catastrophe??
Unfortunately, I can’t find any handy hints on the Earth Hour Australia website.
It turns out there’s two parts to this reef destruction abomination. Firstly, there’s the big and nasty industrial activity going on around the reef. The Queensland government, in association with our mate Tony in Canberra, is approving projects such as the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port.
Don’t like the sound of that? Then do something – and Earth Hour doesn’t count.
Write to your federal member and/or your state government member too if you’re in Queensland.
The spectacle of smiling children at candlelit vigils tonight will apparently be sending a strongly-worded message to the government (cough cough), and is a great publicity stunt, but I might dare to suggest that a barrage of well-written emails from voters will have just a little more impact.
The second part?
Rising sea levels, rising sea temperature, ocean acidification, increases in storms and cyclones – it all adds up to a bad environment for the poor old reef to try and live in. Climate change, in case you’ve forgotten, appears to be caused by the energy wasting habits of industrialised nations.
You’re an intelligent adult TBS reader, you know what to do. You can ease your own conscience if nothing else; you just need a kick in the right direction sometimes. Reduce, recycle, reuse, say “No!” to plastic bags and bottled water, unplug everything every night, and remember to switch your lights off…every time you don’t need them, not just during Earth Hour.