Prepping for Earth Hour 2016

By Drs. Robert & Sonia Vogl
President and Vice President,
Illinois Renewable Energy Association

“As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come. This Earth Hour, switch on your social power to shine a light on climate action.” (earthhour.org)

Each year, in the middle of March, people around the globe observe Earth Hour, the largest grass-roots environmental event ever. A movement that began in Australia in 2007 will be observed on Saturday from 8:30-9:30 p.m., when people turn off their lights and electronic devices to demonstrate support for fighting global warming. When viewed from space, it will appear as a rolling blackout.

Although one hour of the 8,760 hours of the year is a symbolic gesture, it reveals “an unprecedented global mandate for action on climate change.” Earth Hour is a collective statement by people worldwide, showing that they can work together and make a difference.

Not only is turning off lights and electronic devices symbolic, it will allow people to experience the beauty and silence of the night and will provide the opportunity to reconnect to others without distractions. Expanding our reconnection from friends to all of Earth’s people can remind us that we all have the same goal of healthy lives on a healthy, livable planet.

A few years ago, a friend sent us the photo of Earth from space at night – with densely populated areas brilliantly illuminated. His comment was “This is awesome!”

How much more “awesome” to see all of the Earth’s lights, from the Eiffel Tower through the Empire State Building and Chicago’s iconic skyline to the Sydney Opera House extinguished for an hour each – a voluntary rolling blackout by all of Earth’s people pledging dedication to saving our precious planet. Although turning lights off for only one hour is a symbolic gesture, it reveals “an unprecedented global mandate for action on climate change.”

How much more impressive it would be if the lights stayed out throughout the night – not only a rolling blackout, a progressive one.

We need not only turn off the lights for an hour, but continue the impact beyond the hour itself. We could go back to old ways of behaving or continue to act on the dedication we felt for that one hour, expanding it throughout the year. Each of us can do our part and work to protect our own part of the earth. Collectively, we can meet the challenge to change the direction in which we are moving. Although we cannot change what is, we can change what might be.

In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day will occur in about five months. What would happen if we continued our Earth Hour beliefs, actions and dedication so that Earth Overshoot Day will no longer exist?

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