Ok I need to just get on my soap box here and express some opinions here.
Earth Hour is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen. If you don't know yet what earth hour is let me fill you in. It is one hour where most of the world (individuals, cities and companies) agrees to turn off their lights and all their appliances and to live in the dark. No TV, no computers, just dark. Imagining the entire world pulling together for this one hour, to do something in unity for selfless reasons is beautiful. What the Earth Hour organization has been able to accomplish as far as world unity in just a few short years shows just how important and necessary their cause is.
Pic from here
I was on AOL News searching through the pictures of before buildings lit up in all their glory and after with all the buildings all black and dark. This is the quandary that came to my mind as I was going through these pictures: Why do we accept the buildings turning off their lights for one hour once a year? I suppose this is the ultimate point to earth hour, getting us thinking and realizing that there are so many things we waste energy on that we don't need.
Why do the buildings need all these lights? What's the purpose? If we really are on the brink (or in the middle) of global warming then why don't all those businesses and buildings with their big shinny purple, red, green and whatever color lights turn them off? Do we need them? No. Do they add value? No. What's the point? Aesthetics and that, given the current environmental and economic climate we live in, is just not a good enough reason anymore. Imagine the reduction in energy that we as a world would consume if we turned off all the lights lighting up the outside of the buildings which are just not necessary. I'm not talking about homes here (although that definitely needs to be done as well) but buildings and stadiums and other things that aren't even used, let alone need to be lit up, at night. If there's an event by all means light it up but turn them off again when the building is vacant.
My theory is (I didn't make this one up) waste not want not. We are wasting precious resources. If we want the world as we know it to continue in the same fashion we expect then we need to start owning the parts we play in this and that goes for the companies too.
Portland Oregon (my much loved home town) is looking in to their light pollution already and they are looking at not only the benifits that turning off some of their lights would have on their budget but also the benefits it would have in decreasing their carbon footprint. Portland and the Pacific North West are pioneers in their willingness to make environmental changes in their cities and in trying to set an example to other cities on what is possible. Growing up there we were taught about the environment and our (human) impact on it at a very early age. Recycling was not something to think about but just something that was done. Conservation was an everyday topic and if we ever wanted to be reminded of just what could be lost if we didn't keep our environmental selves in check, then all we had to do was drive into the mountains and we could find clear cut forests.
So here's my thought; how about we don't wait for next March to turn off our lights. We could become more environmentally aware today and we can share this awareness with our companies. We can show them how small choices that they make can have a large impact. We can convince them not to keep the lights on unnecessarily or to offer discounts to those employees who choose a more environmental car than an SUV. Encourage people to recycle paper, print front to back and to car pool. I see this happening in the world but it takes individuals to make these changes begin. We can use Earth Hour as the example. If they can get 1 billion people in two short years to turn off their lights then imagine what you can do when you talk to your company about conserving energy.
Ok I'm stepping off my soap box now. Thanks for reading.