Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoughts about Earth Hour

My family participated in Earth Hour 2009 on Saturday night. I felt a little guilty in the hour beforehand, as we frantically ran the vacuum, brewed coffee, and checked E-mail before turning off our electricity. But then, 8:30 pm arrived and we switched off the main circuit breaker.

And lo and behold ... wait! ... the stove is still on? We learned a valuable piece of information about our new house -- the stove and central air aren't connected to the main circuit breaker!

After finally turning off the power with the aid of a second circuit breaker, we sat in the dark and talked about how quiet it was. How many electrical appliances do we really need? What can we, as a family, do to reduce our electricity usage?

Then we read stories by flashlight and candlelight. It was very quiet and peaceful. The almost four-year-old and baby fell asleep. Itinerant Cryptographer, Kerm, and I read long past Earth Hour until finally, my curiosity got the better of me and I logged onto the computer.

In all, an estimated one billion people in nearly 90 countries participated in Earth Hour 2009, according to World Wildlife Fund, the original organizer of the event. Did Earth Hour really make an impact?

Some places reported a decline in power use during the hour: a one-percent reduction for Calgary and northern Illinois. Statistically significant? Probably not.

But did people world-wide start talking about how much electricity we waste? You bet. And opening that dialogue is tremendously exciting. We have to start somewhere.

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