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Question of the Week: Why did or didn’t you observe Earth Hour?

2009 March 30

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On the evening of Saturday March 28, millions around the world turned off their lights for an hour to demonstrate their awareness of the need to conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Why did or didn’t you observe Earth Hour?

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124 Responses leave one →
  1. Chuck permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Because turning lights off for one hour is lame. Getting people to turn them off whenever they leave a room, and making other lifestyle changes (like properly recycling and minimizing driving) are far more important than some gesture that is symbolic only.

  2. Helen permalink
    March 31, 2009

    earth hour didn’t get enough pre press. it was over before i even heard about it.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Hi Matt, I know you have read very good scientific studies to support your claim. As we know, a lot of what we read is information that has been influenced by someone who has either an agenda or a lot of money. In the case of global warming I am sure there are studies that have been conducted by both sides that are extremely biased. I do believe in conspiracy theories but I also try to keep them in perspective because I don”t believe the sheep can be mislead as much as some would argue. In the case of global warming, there are a lot of very intelligent scientist who have no agenda (financial) and have used very accurate measurements to track and correlate CO2 emissions and human involvement with the phenomenon of climate change. The fact that 98% of the scientific community supports these findings and 2% does not leads me to believe that their conclusions are correct. Aside from that, having grown up in Los Angeles and lived with smog the first twenty three years of my life I can attest to the health drawbacks of CO2 emissions. This is all man made pollution and I believe we would all be better off if we did something to limit it.

  4. March 31, 2009

    turning off the lights and saving energy is an expensive rip off? what?!?

  5. Joan permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Those of you who forgot Earth Hour or didn’t know about it…do your own mini Earth Hour, anytime!
    I don’t think the purpose is really to lower global electricity use for that one hour of the year—it’s a symbolic gesture that raises awareness about how much electricity we use every day.
    Cheers, everyone!

  6. Sharon permalink
    March 31, 2009

    We most certainly did observe the hour. My daughter did also. We have my grand-daughter, her daughter to think of.

  7. Alfred permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Not only is it a great idea — so very cool to see so many people around the world take part. I turned off — and unplugged — all of our devices, from HDTV to laptop computers, printers & A/C. My eyes were really opened after reading Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded… and watching the PBS e2 documentaries. Change has to start at the local level, and I really believe every little bit counts! If you don’t believe me, watch some of the videos on People much smarter than me are putting their $$ where there mouths are when it comes to taking steps to address climate change.

  8. Sally permalink
    March 31, 2009

    We certainly did observe “Earth Hour”. We sat around for the hour with candles and oil lamps. There are 3 generations living in our home…my husband and myself, our daugther, and our two grandchildren. I wanted to make a statement to my grandkids. It really made an impression on them. My granddaughter wants to know if we can do this every week. I said “Yes!”

  9. Kyle permalink
    March 31, 2009

    What Earth Hour?

  10. Marc permalink
    March 31, 2009

    My family and I did turn out the lights and other appliances during Earth Hour – I had actually scheduled a community star-watch, but the sky was overcast. My family played cards by wind-up lantern. My wife, a historian, pointed out that all of humanity lived without electric lights for most of history. The children considered it just another adventure and had a good time.

    No other house in my neighborhood had their lights off.

    Concerning the other comments above; I believe that the kind of change the environmental community hopes to achieve will only come about through education, perspiration and the idea that true change only happens when the stimulus effects the “watch or the wallet”. If it costs the general public time or money – they will change, if not, then apathy takes over. I have always claimed that the two greatest threats to the environment are APATHY and IGNORANCE.

    Energy efficiency and reduction saves money…period!
    Being GREEN saves you GREEN$.

    Time for me to step off my soap box and let someone else speak.

  11. Franklin Wallbrown permalink
    March 31, 2009

    I feel horrible because I abserved Earth Hour last year, but I completely forgot about it this year. Sorry.

  12. Scott permalink
    March 31, 2009

    I really enjoyed reading through the responses people have had on this question. Everything from (and I’m paraphrasing) “Earth Hour is pointless” to “I’ve got a journal that I edit on Earth Hour each year where I reflect and set goals for saving energy next year” (completed under solar powered light fixtures).

    There’s been good discussion on climate change and anthropogenic cause/effect.

    To the point of whether the event has an effect on actually saving energy, well it’s just an hour, but ya gotta start somewhere! I like to think of Earth Hour as an event to spread awareness. And yes, seeing a city go “dark” is an impressive stunt… it helps start the conversation… or many conversations. It’s important to continue the education of energy usage and its ultimate effects on the environment.


  13. Kim in Alabama permalink
    March 31, 2009

    I observed Earth hour by going to bed early and turning off the lights! When I viewed the pics the next day (Sydney, Australia and other cities) I wondered why it was necessary to have all those light on in empty buildings at night anyway.

  14. Anonymous permalink
    March 31, 2009
    Your facts are extremely distorted. Movie stars and Al Gore can not be counted as reputable scientists. Good grief.

  15. Michael Cummins permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Nice! I like your style.

  16. Michael Cummins permalink
    March 31, 2009

    I am ashamed of all of you irresponsible sheeple. Al Gore wasted more energy lighting up his trees and driveway than all of you saved combined. Global warming is a complete hoax. If it weren’t than why won’t anybody debate it with more than fabricated facts. Here learn something.

  17. Green Teen permalink
    March 31, 2009

    For those who say they have done research, I highly recommend using google scholar or another scholarly search engine with peer reviewed articles rather than a basic internet search in order to find “thousands” of agreeing scientists.

    I understand where people are coming from when they say that this was a silly and meaningless PR stunt. However, PR stunts are just that, stunts to get people’s attention. If you disagree with the premise, you’re still here frantically adding your opinion or reading, which means you’re thinking about a great idea someone had more than a year ago. I applaud earth hour.

    I think it would be neat if EPA had a monthly Dark Hour or something. The idea might encourage communities to do something non-energy intensive together for one hour once a month.

    I do agree that the EPA shouldn’t link randomly to biased organizations (in regards to the WWF statement). However, I applaud their support of Earth Hour, and I believe that a government institution should be able to support non-affilliated events like it.

    Thank you to everyone who posted, I’m glad this forum exists.

  18. Elizabeth Barrette permalink
    March 31, 2009

    I supported Earth Hour because it reveals how much energy we use and how much we can save. Even if we just take little steps they add up. I was very disappointed to see a counter-campaign to WASTE energy during Earth Hour! I wrote a total of three Earth Hour related posts on my blog, “Gaiatribe: Ideas for a Thinking Planet.”

  19. Bika permalink
    March 31, 2009

    Earth hour sounds like a great step towards a more eco-freindly America. It does sound very effecient to have a monthly dark hour. Building on this energy saving idea, it would be cool if more people were persuaded to unplug their unused appliances. This would then be essentially aiming towards the same goal as earth hour, to save electricity!

  20. Cara permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Chuck, I mean this honestly, in the most respectful way that I can put it, but people like you are pointless!

    Sure, at 9:30 p.m. all of us who took the time and effort to participate were like, “Yeah, thank goodness we can turn back on all of the things that we are so accustomed to and take advantage of everyday.”

    Sure a massive energy surge probably occurred as we all turned on our precious televisions so that we could watch reruns of whatever crap was playing on them, but the point is we participated.

    It was not about the fact that we were making a short hour long tribute to global warming and mother Earth-it was just the fact that those of us who are well educated on the topic knew what it meant and how important it was to participate!

    A little education goes a long way-Chuck!

    Pay the few bucks to take an environmental science class so that you can get educated!

  21. Scott permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Why is it just lights? It would make more sense if it was also computers/laptops. Computers eat up a lot of power when plugged in.

    Maybe next year, Earth Hour could work with NASA to get satellite imagery between the hours of 8:00 and 10:00pm as each time zone approaches it the 8:30 to 9:30. This way they can use special filters to capture the lights from the surface before, during, and after the event. That would make much more sense in terms of showing the benefit and how many people actually participate during Earth Hour.

  22. steven cooney permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I did not remember about the lights out thing. I would have done it, I mean what the hell sheeple. We humans have made a mockery of sentience. To say that we have had or are having no adverse effect on nature and our planet seems at least ignorant, and arrogant, with maybe a little cocky denial mixed in. The best analogy I have come across is that we are like a 100 year volcano. Where volcanic eruptions cause climate changes, these changes subside with time. The human eruption has not. As well, we have taken most of the pristine places containing most of the planets resources, lived in, exploited and changed them, seemingly forever. I know this will sound ridiculous to most, but instead of mirrors in space, or blankets on the ice caps, desalination, slowing the wind with wind generators, slowing streams and rivers with underwater generators and dams, inhabiting much needed arable land, selfishly breeding ourselves out of exsistence we could “reduce population and restore nature”. Does creating a sustainable utopia in this way seem a ridiculous idea? Human population is the number one problem on this planet. We are not the most important thing, unfortunately for many. Without nature there will not be much for us humans. I could drone on, and add much more but instead I will stop and write “observe and Think”. The Phil.

  23. Cat permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Hear, Hear!!!

  24. Alexandra permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I wanted to participate, but I hosted a party on Saturday night. Some of my guests would have been amenable to turning off the lights, but most didn’t sound too interested! I wish it was a nicer night, and we could have just spent the hour outside on the deck in candlelight, but it was snowing! I encouraged my friends and guests to make up for it by conserving energy and paying attention to energy wasters for the following week.

    I love the idea of Earth Hour! I hope to participate fully next time.

  25. Elizabeth V. Mooney permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I did NOT because I observe Earth Hour 24/7. I pay extra for electricity totally generated by wind. My natural gas furnace is 85 percent efficient. I had double-paned windows installed on my house. I keep the thermostat low in winter. I use ceiling fans and open windows, not air conditioning in summer. I use mass transit for 95 percent of my vehicular trips. Each year, I keep looking for and finding additional ways I can reduce my negative imprint. Even small things add up if we all do them.

  26. Anonymous permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I would have, but I knew nothing about it. You need better advertising for these things! Why didn’t you just make it on Earth Day?

  27. Virginia permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I did even though I only found out about it 2 hrs before. I have not heard anything about this anywhere. Not on the news local or national that I saw this week. This is something that should have been everywhere. I’m not far from Boston and they were suposed to be involved, I have friends downtown that had no idea what I was talking about. As a PTA member I would have gotten the schools involved if I had know about it. It’s really a shame this could have been much bigger if it had been advertised.

  28. Chris permalink
    April 1, 2009

    You are correct in that Al Gore and movie stars are not scientists. They are just people stating that they believe what the scientists report.

    However, the last IPCC report was authored by 620 leading scientists. You can see who they are and check into their background here:

  29. Adam permalink
    April 1, 2009

    It was very nice to see the neighborhood dark. It appears that many of my neighbors participated, despite the poor media coverage in the main media outlets.

  30. Matt permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I just don’t get the point of this silliness. Are the people who feel so nice about this goofy stunt saying the world would be a better place if we gave it all up and went back to living in caves?

    Then at 10:01 everyone fires up the pc to blog about how wonderful it was in the dark; while watching cable news to see how dark it was; and calling their senators to complain that there was’nt enough bilboards, newspaper ads, tv spots, plastic green bracelets… to let everyone know about this. The word for this is HYPOCRICY.

    Here is a news flash: Everyone intuitively knows that conservation is good and wasting is bad. They don’t need a goofy stunt to empower them to “do the right thing.” Some people choose not to conserve just because they can and because they resent the fact that our “leaders” wish to control them under the assumption that they are stupid.

    Here’s a suggestion for these hypocrites. “Change your assumptions.” Many people happily embrace living in our modern world and resent attempts by fervent environmentalists to condem them for it while they also greatly benifit from it (see Al Gore’s floodlights above). Instead of condemnation, try directing your collective energy towards creating a more efficient and ‘sustainable’ but technologically advanced capitalist civilization. That would be much more preferable to everyone (with the exception maybe of the candle manufacturers) than sitting around in the dark.

  31. samantha permalink
    April 1, 2009

    Dear Ma’m or Sir or Alien,

    I support your opinion and what you said to “Chuck” (the loser)
    although, you didn’t have to be that nice to him. Global Warming
    is a serious issue and perhaps it is good to participate in such events, even if it is only for the purpose of awarness.

    I would also like to include the fact that if we don’t take action, our
    environmentis slowly being destroyed, like it or not Chuck!

    WHAT?! You just got served Chuck!

    So, I would just like to say that it is important to support the various indevers to help our planet. God bless America!
    Amen to that Reverend!

  32. Janet permalink
    April 1, 2009

    I didn’t know about it until it was to late.

  33. Karen permalink
    April 2, 2009

    We turned off the lights at the zoo! Even if you are not worried about climate change…you should remember that you can save money by conserving energy!

  34. Anne permalink
    April 2, 2009

    I support the idea but was doing the bedtime routine for my little one right at that time so it was not feasible for our family.

    And, yes, yes, this needs to be advertised better. It’s something I think most people would do if they new about it and if community companies/leaders/our employers were doing the same.

  35. Steve permalink
    April 2, 2009

    Wooo Weeee! Did we have fun for Earth Hour!

    We rushed home from Manhattan, the three kids helped turn off non essential appliances ( Radios, Water filters, lights, ).

    We ate dinner by candle lights. After dinner I read, chapter 13 of the Magician’s nephew ( Narnia). Then, we wrote with the liquified wax from the 8 candles. That was fun. One hour was too short!

  36. Marco permalink
    April 2, 2009

    Wow. It was an awareness event Matt. I have no idea where you get the idea that all, or even most, environmentalists are luddites or anti-capitalists.

    Here’s a news flash. Voluntary events are not an issue of control … if they were, well, they wouldn’t be voluntary.

    As an environmentalist, I do put my energy towards creating a more efficient and sustainable way of living. Technological advances are certainly one major way of pursuing this. Simple capitalism at its best is another way.

    That last point probably could use some background. Basic economic theory tells us that negative extenalities – such as allowing carbon emissions to cause adverse impacts on people around the world without being factored into the cost of the good – is an example of where markets fail to function properly and yeild sub-optimal results. So we also look to things such as a carbon tax that adjust for the negative externalities and allow our capitalist economic system to operate more efficiently, and provides the incentive to reduce or eliminate that externality. What I describe above is a straight out of the textbook example of economic theory. A very strong part of environmentalism is about getting our economic system to operate more efficiently.

    Hopefully that helps to illustrate that we already are what you are suggesting we should be. Come on over and become part of the solution.

  37. Tava permalink
    April 2, 2009

    I did not know about it. I wish I would have! I am truly disappointed that I missed this.

  38. Anonymous permalink
    April 2, 2009

    Actually the planets survival does not depend on us. It will survive without us. The real reason we want to conserve and be environmentally conscious is because we want the human race to survive. The planet will continue but the ecosystems will change and we may not adapt if nothing is done.

  39. NEWR permalink
    April 3, 2009

    Very intriguing idea — using solar landscaping lights inside — thanks for posting!

  40. NEWR permalink
    April 3, 2009

    My son’s FCPS elementary school publicized Earth Hour and gave incentives for the kids to participate. Good publicity, yet appropriately optional.

    It was a positive experience for kids, who want to feel that they are making a difference. What we’ll remember most is our surprise at how much light remained when we turned off the lights! Our kitchen glowed a creepy green from the LED clocks and indicator lights on the large and small appliances. My sons counted 12 sources of LED light in a pretty small space! Some night we might experiment and try to cook by the lights of the LEDS …

  41. Quinn permalink
    April 3, 2009

    My 5-year-old daughter was very excited to participate. In fact, she got her grandma to participate, too. We had planned on taking a night walk, but the weather didn’t cooperate. But we still had fun. It was very interesting to see on CNN how many people and organixations WROLD WIDE were participating. It was honestly moving and I was proud to be a part of it. For those who say it’s pointless… think again. It’s a statement- how much energy can be saved by such simple means… not pointless at all!

  42. Quinn permalink
    April 3, 2009

    I must say that I totally agree with the population theory. I, myself, believe in and abide by zero population growth.I have one daughter, and would like to have one more. 2 children to replace her father and I. Although some think it’s silly, I think it’s the least I can do while still persuing the “sustainable american dream”… is there such a thing? :)

  43. Matt permalink
    April 3, 2009

    Thanks for the basic economics lesson. It seems to me that punitive measures are not the best way to go about eliminating negative externalities. Punishment does not equal incentive. This also does not address emissions from the planets largest polluters… Developing nations. The end result is we hinder the most innovative industrial engine in the world while the most primitive industrial complexes chug along in hopes of acheiving a fraction of what we have while causing adverse impacts on the world.

    By the way I am also a geologist by trade, work in the Environmental Enineering field and lastly I am also a self professed environmentalist. I just don’t believe that these are the best ideas for finding a balance. Try putting down your Intro to Macro-economic textbook and thinking; then we can both become part of a real solution.

  44. Carolyn permalink
    April 3, 2009

    Pointless, hype.

  45. Matt permalink
    April 3, 2009

    Population reduction is a terific idea. Anyone who wishes to create such a Utopia should be the first volunteers for this cause. Unfortunately that’s not what I’m after so I’ll be sticking around a little while longer. However, in the spirit of Brotherhood I’ll vow to use the remains those who do make the ultimate sacrafice to fertilize my lawn thus curtailing my use of chemical fertilizers.

  46. dennis permalink
    April 5, 2009

    My wife and I participated quite simply because we were at some friends house and they participated!

  47. Emilio Malaguti permalink
    April 6, 2009

    I was not aware

  48. Dennis permalink
    April 6, 2009

    I agree with the notion of useless waste of resources. No matter where I go businesses leave lights on in offices, marquees, security lighting when no one is present. Motion sensitive lights would be a much more efficient product. Perhaps fewer jobs would be lost if business could cut expenses in other ways.

  49. Jacqui permalink
    April 6, 2009

    Wow, I didn’t realize how much useless lighting goes on around the world. Why do we do this? To show our greatness or what? Why must all the monuments be lit up? How many people really go to see the pyramids, etc. at 3am. Why don’t these entities turn the lights of when they leave like we do in our homes? Ill bet the energy savings would be astronomical.

  50. Jacqui permalink
    April 6, 2009

    Republicans have sold our country to the highest bidders. After reading a lot of these comments I’d like to tell you naysayers, those who don’t believe in global warming or energy efficiency that people with IQs higher than 80 (the average) are the ones telling you to conserve. You really are ignoramuses without enough intelligence to even know how stupid you are. Did you know that Bush’s IQ is below average and Obama’s is almost double the average as am I and all the other scientists who try to tell you stuff for your own good. All I’ve gotten in my adult life is being called unbelievable nasty names by all the unintelligent, therefore uninformed, people like you out there.

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