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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Earth Hour

Watch this space for an upcoming blog on Earth Hour. What will you be doing March 29 at 8 p.m. in the dark?

To find out how you can get involved, check out Earth Hour in the links sidebar.

“Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action,” says main organizer World Wildlife Fund, Canada. — Saturday Star, January 19, 2008.