Our View…Why not spend a little time in the dark?What was once considered a “socially correct” platform to embrace – scoffed upon by big business, many politicians, and numerous scientists – is now becoming too compelling an argument to ignore.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Ever go camping with your family and found out what it was like to spend the evening without electric lights? Chances are, you lit a roaring campfire, brought out the flashlights or headlights and maybe turned in early and gazed at the stars.
And what about those inevitable winter blizzards or summer thunderstorms when the power goes off and you’re left in the dark, not only without electric lights but often without heat or air conditioning, refrigeration, and possibly even plumbing? Those types of events are hardships, to be sure, but they often become something of an adventure as well, to see just how well you can “get by” without all of the comforts and conveniences we’ve all become accustomed to.
Often, it’s those very same comforts and conveniences that are increasingly contributing to the hazards of climate change, however. What was once considered a “socially correct” platform to embrace – scoffed upon by big business, many politicians, and numerous scientists – is now becoming too compelling an argument to ignore.
There are those who have been trying to bring environmental sustainability into the public hour for decades.
When Earth Day first got its start back in 1970, at the height of the hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, it created a minor splash for a brief time and then settled into comparative anonymity for many people, who are only reminded of it on the morning news.
But Earth Day organizers are still at it after 43 years, knowing their cause has to be a long-term commitment in order to be effective. No longer simply considered an event to promote tree planting and peaceful demonstrations at the grassroots level, the theme for this year’s Earth Day on April 22 is “The Face of Climate Change,” tackling far greater global issues than ever before and across the entire world.
A similar event, called Earth Hour, got its start seven years ago with the World Wildlife Federation to launch a global movement to protect the planet. Though its initiatives are encouraged to be ongoing in nature, the actual Earth Hour takes place for a designated hour on March 23 (this year, from 8:30-9:30 p.m. in our local time zone), a time when as many folks as possible are asked to turn out their electric lights for that hour as a gesture of commitment to helping create a sustainable world.
And while special “days” dedicated to this and that often contribute little of significance beyond that particular occasion, the message behind these two annual events is one to which we need to pay heed. In order to make a personal commitment to sustainability, we don’t need to picket a power plant or go back to living off the land, but it pays to start now – and start small – in order to get things going.
Your part could be as simple and eloquent and as having dinner by candlelight once a week or preparing meals using sustainably grown foods (preferably local), or something as potentially life-changing as quitting smoking, switching to public transportation or committing to going paperless. Bring the entire family in on brainstorming, and the ideas will start flowing and perhaps the commitment will become a lasting one.
Locally, the Lake Superior Zoo is planning an “Earth Hour” event on March 23 that shows inspiration and innovation. According to Marketing Director Kim Matteen, the event will begin at 7 p.m. and guests will enjoy acoustic music (no electric guitars or amplifiers on this night!), a campfire with hot chili and s’mores, star gazing and lamp-light tours of the zoo grounds until 9 p.m.
All are fun and effective ways to take a new look at how we can personally figure in to conserving energy, preventing wasteful excess and doing our part to make certain our environment remains safe and sustainable for our children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
It’s a weighty task, but one we can’t afford to turn away from. So why not try turning off your electricity for an hour – on March 23 or any other night, for that matter? You might just see the light.