Earth Hour: A Great Excuse to Party in the Dark E-mail
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 00:00  |  Written by Dawn Marshallsay | Blog Entry

Lightbulb Candle photo by RepoortWhat would we do without light? Lots of things, actually. Electric lighting isn’t an option for the 75% of Africans who have no access to electricity, and the estimated 38 million people across the globe who are blind. If they can function permanently without electric illumination, surely we can cope for an hour. That’s the challenge issued by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in inviting everyone to participate in its second annual Earth Hour—60 minutes without electric light. Turning off the lights saves energy and money, lowers the risk of global climate change and reduces air, water, land and light pollution. It’s also a great excuse to experiment with alternative lighting.

WWF Earth Hour
Here’s how it works. On Saturday, 27 March 2010—when the clock strikes 8.30 p.m. in your time zone—houses, businesses and landmarks switch off their electric lights for one hour and party in the dark, or use alternative sources of lighting. As well as saving energy, Earth Hour delivers a global visual message to fight climate change.

The first WWF Earth Hour, on 28 March 2009, saw landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building switch off their lights for an hour, as nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries took part in the largest global action of its kind.

The WWF is calling for at least one billion people to turn off their lights this year. Websites can even black out their pages using the WWF’s Earth Hour ‘light switch’ widget. A pull-cord light switch graphic is displayed in the corner of the screen; once clicked, the webpage goes dark and a clock appears in the center, counting down to Earth Hour.

Alternative Lighting Activities
Lovers of candle-lit dinners and disco lighting already know the fun of partially lit get-togethers, and the options are endless. Alternatives to electric lighting include candles, solar-powered and hand-cranked torches, glow sticks, indoor or outdoor fires, stars and moonlight. Once you’ve achieved semi-darkness, all you need is a gathering of people and some imagination, then let the fun begin! This could be anything from a glow-stick-lit acoustic music gig to a candlelit dinner followed by stargazing. You may be wishing the hour never ends….

Earth Day
…and it doesn’t have to. Earth Day is the ideal time to stage a sequel to your Earth Hour madness, and this time you’ve got all night to party. The largest secular holiday in the world, Earth Day involves more than a billion people. And it’s set to be bigger than ever this year as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. If you’re looking for ideas, the Earth Day Network lists events around the globe.

Even Times Square’s illuminated billboards could be going green in time for Earth Day. The Earth Day Network is campaigning for buildings in the Square to make their signage more energy efficient, as their number and energy rivals Las Vegas. As a piece of encouragement, Times Square unveiled its first wind- and solar-powered billboard on 4 December 2008. Passersby can support the campaign by texting “earth” to 23000.

Once you’ve survived a whole night without lights, the next power cut won’t seem so daunting. Instead, it’ll be an excuse to party, and the Earth will be partying with you.

Additional resources:
'WWF Earth Hour 2009' YouTube Video
About WWF's Earth Hour
WWF's Earth Hour Resources

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Eco Tip

Become a vegetarian or vegan, or at least eat less meat. Meat is a big waster of water and energy—and generator of greenhouse gasses. It also exacerbates world hunger. One acre of land yields almost 18 times as much usable protein from plant versus animal sources—356 pounds if used to grow soybeans, 20 pounds if used to raise cattle for slaughter. More tips...

Eco Quote

The weight of our civilization has become so great, it now ranks as a global force and a significant wild card in the human future along with the Ice Ages and other vicissitudes of a volatile and changeable planetary system.- Dianne Dumanoski, Rethinking Environmentalism, December 13, 1998.  More quotes...