Welcome to the blog of the course and textbook Facing up to global warming: What is going on and what you can do about it. This course is run by Professor Nick Gray of the Trinity Centre for the Environment at Trinity College Dublin.

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Earth Hour – The need to go beyond the hour.

When I heard about Earth Hour, I was surprised to learn of its global reach and participation level. Earth Hour was hosted on 23rd March 2013 8:30pm local time in each participant country and saw renowned landmarks switch off their lights for 60 minutes. The Eiffel Tower and Times Square, even as far away as Sydney Opera House, had turned off their lights as a show of support.  Initially, I thought it was an incentive to save electricity, turn off your lights for an hour and you would see the difference in your electricity bills. It was only when I investigated further, that I saw the concept behind it. Earth Hour was not just about saving on your bills but a global initiative that shined a beacon for the requirement, particularly on developed nations for action in energy conservation and sustainability on the global community. It marks the beginning for this action and is a great step in the right direction, even if it seems like an impossible battle. It highlighted the need to go beyond the hour, part taking in this initiative once a year for an hour will have little results; it is the change in thinking about our energy consumption that this initiative offers. Having never participated in Earth Hour and with this class raising my awareness to such issues, I thought there was no better way to show my family and myself the requirement to change attitudes to energy consumption.

Eiffel Tower; during and after Earth Hour.

As I sat in darkness with only a little candle light, I wondered what I could do for a whole 60 minutes without any electricity. Looking back at me were my family, also perplexed as what to do for the next hour. With a large family with an endless list of electronic gadgets, multiple televisions, X box, Wii, Playstations, iPods, iPads, Laptops, mobile phones and any other you can think of, all were turned off. I must admit, it felt very strange and a little lost as to what to do with myself. When I had brought up this idea with my family about taking part in Earth Hour at home, I received a mixed reaction. My little brothers were not impressed, having grown up with everything at the touch of a bottom. On the other hand, my parents were pleased and said they wanted to do their bit and it would be a unique experience. Deep down I knew it was the expected reduction in our electricity bills that they were must looking forward too. On the surface they hid that well. Eventually, we all agreed that a family game of Monopoly was in order, a game that was sure to last the hour and bring everyone’s competitive side out. After ten minutes, all our eyes had adjusted to the dark and we forgot that we were playing in near darkness. As the game continued well past the hour, everyone forgot about a typical Saturday night was like in our house, as we were so focused on becoming the winner. When it eventually ended, 2 hours and ten minutes later nobody really wanted to turn on their gadgets, having realised that there still is a fun to be had without them. Slowly as time passed, only the one T.V. went back on, a huge improvement for my house, to watch the news and see the extent to which Earth Hour had occurred this year.  I feel it was of huge benefit, as I stood back and realised my family’s heavy reliance on electronic equipment and it made me take notice of our large energy consumption. Having participated in this year Earth Hour, I will definitely be doing again next year, only this time getting some more people involved.

Rachael Kelly

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