On Saturday March 26th, at 8:30pm, people all down the west coast turned off their lights for an hour during Earth Hour and joined a night of global commitment to create a better future. So why did we bother?
In America, the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Ayn Rand Centre laughed at it, and asked their supporters to turn on as many lights and appliances as possible to celebrate human achievement and innovation, claiming that any action to slow or prevent global warming is a move again human freedom.
I beg to differ. I am incredibly moved by the history of human achievement that has brought us thus far. I am moved by the genius of scientists, the skill of engineers and the courage of entrepreneurs who have brought us everything from the wheel to the Hubble Space Telescope, and who are now bringing us solar panels, electric cars and I-Phone apps that tell you when the next bus is coming.
So why do we celebrate Earth Hour? Here are my personal ten reasons:
- Because electricity is an incredible human achievement, and one we should never waste or take for granted.
- Because 68% of the world’s electricity is still produced by burning fossil fuels, which are the prime cause of the global warming that poses such an enormous threat to our future and our children’s future.
- Because if we cared enough, we could produce all the electricity we need from renewable sources such as wind, water, solar and geothermal power - but we’re not making the shift anywhere near fast enough.
- Because turning the lights off for an hour is a good reminder that all the energy we use carries a environmental cost of some kind or other, and we should never forget this.
- Because year-by-year, more people around the world are joining in, turning Earth Hour into an inspiring time of shared global action.
- Because the time spent in the darkness, illuminated by perhaps one candle, offers a chance to slow down, relax, talk, and feel the beauty and harmony of our Earth.
- Because this one hour can become a trigger for creative action all over the world as people meet, talk, dream, get creative, and decide to act together.
- Because we live together on only one planet, and if we continue to use Earth’s resources so carelessly, there will be no-one to bail us out.
- Because being human is about so much more than just consuming so carelessly. It is also about dreaming, hoping, a building a better future for everyone.
- Because when we all come together, we have the power to change the world.
Guy Dauncey is President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, and author of the award-winning book The Climate Challenge: 101 Solutions to Global Warming. See www.earthfuture.com