Earth Hour kicks off in New Zealand in 18 days, 18 hours, and 16 minutes, at least as I write this sentence. Never heard of it? Then you probably live in the United States.
Earth Hour, according to Wikipedia, is “a worldwide grass-roots movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement. The event is held worldwide towards the end of March annually, encouraging individuals, communities households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.”
This year it’s Saturday, March 29, from 8:30 – 9:30 in your time zone.
If you go to their website you can find links to events in your country, but while in 2012 Slovenia (a country of 2 million people) had 3 press coordinators publicizing the event and Brunei (pop. roughly 400,000) boasted 5, the US had only one lonely press person trying to engage 315 million people in the event. Currently a rather embarrassing 15, 008 Americans have pledged to extinguish their lights for 60 minutes.
So what difference does turning off your lights for an hour make? Not much. But it is, obviously, part of a larger campaign to raise awareness of energy consumption and waste along with much broader environmental issues.
Inspired in part by Earth Hour, France last year passed a law banning the use of all-night illumination in non-residential buildings. The result? “According to a statement from the ministry of sustainable development, the lights-off plan will save €200 million per year, ‘the equivalent of the annual electricity consumption of 750,000 households.'” Not a bad start for a perfectly sensible measure.
Last year we made it an adventure in our family, pitching a tent in the boys’ room, grabbing flashlights, snacks and a few books and keeping the lights out all night. This year I think we’ll camp out on the terrace, cook outdoors, have a fire, and stretch Earth Hour out to encompass the whole evening.
As part of Earth Hour the organizers have set up what’s called an I Will if You Will challenge, in which individuals and organizations pledge to do something – anything – if others will take up a specific environmental challenge.
As I wrote before, last year I made a video pledge to never again order bottled water in a restaurant if 50 people would promise to use public transport to commute to work, while our son D agreed to lay off the Legos for a week if 100 people would plant a tree.
Both videos went viral, in the sense that Ebola is viral – i.e. they soon died; mine got 20 views, while 12 people watched D’s video. This year I hope to do better.
I haven’t been able to set up an I Will if You Will challenge through Earth Hour’s website (I’ve been getting a ‘technical difficulties’ message for a week now), but I’m doing it anyway. So you’ll find mine below, and although you’ll have to watch the video for details, I’ll tell you broadly that it involves plastic and nudity.
All you need to do is leave the comment “I WILL” on YouTube, and I’ll know that you’re in. Simple as that. I have to get at least 20 people to take up my challenge, so don’t be afraid to spread this far and wide to help me in my quest to use my buns to save the globe.