Flick Off, Canada

Earth Hour has gone global this year, reaching out to more than 17 cities across six continents. Toronto is representing the house Saturday, March 29 between 8 and 9 p.m. and needs one million people to make a difference. Will you turn your lights out?

In fact, Toronto is the only Canadian city to partake. Whaaat? Perhaps other Canadian cities share the belief that this is nothing more than a cheap media stunt, an empty gesture that will amount to nothing. But the World Wildlife Fund suggests that it is a global action that involves people from many continents who share a dream — to stop global warming. It is a sign of recognition that change needs to happen. It is a sign to the world to listen up.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, last year. The WWF reports that 2.2 million people turned off their lights that night. Sydney targeted for a 5 per cent quota in energy savings, but the city exceeded expectations and rose the needle to 10.2 per cent. This amounted to a savings of 25,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide or 48,000 cars off the road.

Ryerson Professor Randy Boyagoda, who appears on CBC Radio’s Think Tank Thursday mornings on Sounds Like Canada, thinks these numbers don’t tell us anything. “This is no different from reading in my newspaper that if I buy this washing machine, it will save 25 hectares of rain forest.” What he wants to know is, once we turn out the lights, “how much of  this is offset by the cost of turning everything back on again?”

What do you think? Is this merely a photo opp. for Mayor David Miller, who will be pulling the plug on the CN Tower? Or is it the kind of campaign that will change how people think? Change consumers’ attitudes and behaviours? Will it kick start the government into action? Will it stop them from fannying about with “we need more information” excuses? How will you spend the hour?

I’m having a fondue night with a few friends. One of us will play some music on an acoustic and it’ll be well past the hour before we’re into the chocolat. But isn’t that the point of this campaign? To think past the hour. Isn’t this hour in darkness a time to reflect on how we’re going to reduce our footprint on the planet? The longest journey begins with a single step — Lao Tzu.

Find out how you can make a difference.

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3 thoughts on “Flick Off, Canada

  1. Jackie says:

    Actually, I’ll be pulling the plug on the CN Tower. I think a lot of people have bought into the “save the earth” idea. But it’s still just an idea. This simple thing could possibly change consumers’ attitudes, but what we really need is that change of behaviour.

    Lao Tzu also said, “All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.”

    Doesn’t take much, our small steps do make a difference. Will it be enough to call it great, I hope so.

  2. Chris Clarke says:

    Earth Hour is symbolic. It should be about thinking beyond the hour, because as the professor at Ryerson you referenced mentioned, it’s going to take a serious toll on the grid to power everything back up again. Earth Hour by itself is going to have a negative impact; it’s everything that happens after the hour is up that matters.

  3. nsecretan says:

    These kinds of campaigns come under fire from all vested parties, but is it better to sit on our hands and do nothing? I firmly support the notion of standing up and making a statement to effect change. What the audience fails to realize is, it’s up to them to do the rest.

    It doesn’t take much. If we turned out lights in empty rooms, or unplugged our computers at night, not to mention our phone chargers or if we turned the thermostat down by one degree, what a difference that would make!

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