Making the Most of Earth Hour 2009

Earth HourEarth Hour is Saturday, March 28th. Are you participating? Are you planning? If you’ve already signed up for Earth Hour, you’ve got two things left to do. Prepare to power down and plan what you’ll be doing from 8:30 to 9:30 PM.

Powering Down

Earth Hour is about turning off the lights for one hour. It may seem like just a little thing, but when everyone does it at once, the results are impressive. Look at a few statistics from 2008’s Earth Hour.

  • Chicago kept 840,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
  • In Toronto, there was an 8.7% reduction in energy.
  • A 10.1% energy drop occurred in energy usage.

Those numbers can be even more impressive if we do more than just turn off the lights. Powering down everything non-essential in your home can reduce your energy usage even further.

  • Unplug any chargers – cell phone, mp3 player, PDA’s – if they aren’t in use. They continue to draw energy even when they aren’t charging anything.
  • Unplug anything with a digital clock – alarm clocks, microwaves, automatic coffee makers. You can reset the clocks. It won’t kill you.
  • Turn off and unplug your stereo system and computer equipment. When they are in stand-by mode, they continue to draw power.
  • Unplug any exercise equipment – that’s one area that many people never think of.

Something to Do

You don’t just have to sit in the dark for an hour. Do something fun. Something you’ll tell others about. Here are a few ideas from around the web.

  1. Take a challenge from the Morsels & Musings blog – Anna, who lives in Sydney, is challenging people to cook a meal that has a low carbon footprint – made from locally sourced ingredients and minimal packaging. Blog your recipe any time before Earth Hour begins, then make the meal before the lights go out. At 8:30 begin to eat by candle light.
  2. Take pictures. Lots of people on flickr are discussing Earth Hour and taking pictures during it. If you live in a city that is planning going dark, figure out where you can get fairly high enough to take good pictures of the streets. If you can, go the night before or the night after and take pictures from the same perspective so you can compare the difference. Even if you’re just spending the night in with friends and family at home, take pictures. Put your pictures online and inform all your friends.
  3. Participate in 2009 StarWatch. Go outside during Earth Hour and count how many stars you can see. When Earth Hour is over, and the lights have gone back on, go back outside and count the stars again. Then go to RedShift Now’s website and record your data. The website reports that during Earth Hour 2008, 20% of those who reported said they saw darker skies (meaning more stars) when the lights were out.
  4. Pick one of these 60 things to do during Earth Hour. Some are silly (Say to your neighbour, “Dude, this is so Amish”) and some are good ideas (Start early. Switch off before the sun sets and soak up the twilight).

What will you be doing during Earth Hour?

  1. 2muchstuff

    I think the great thing about this year’s Earth Hour is not just the idea of a mass reduction in energy use but also the ‘Vote for the Earth’ concept. The fact that people can show their support for stricter climate change regulation means that, although all the activities and reduction in energy use is great too, this Earth Hour is not just about what we are actually doing, but also what we are showing the government and regulators by doing it. Even if it is just switching the lights off!

  2. Bobby B.

    I have decided to launch a small Earth Hour protest designed to help stimulate our struggling global economy, rather than take part in this purely symbolic event.

    In the grand spirit of my upcoming 18th Annual Earth Day Barbecue, I will have virtually every electronic device that I own switched to the “ON” position during Earth Hour. I plan to order some of those delivered-to-your-home pizzas to enjoy with the family while watching a DVD movie. Since it occurs on a Saturday, I may start the day by going fishing or cutting the lawn; or maybe doing both. Of course, the little league team that I coach could do with some additional batting practice. Just consider how many lives these seemingly small activities help to support: farmers, energy producers, engine manufacturers, rod & reel builders, bait shop workers, knife makers, flour & corn meal millers, cooking oil bottlers, cast iron skillet craftsmen, actors, actresses, musicians, miners, foundry workers, baseball equipment makers, etc. and so on.

    In these troubled times, we need real economic stimulus. So, take action! Any action that requires an exchange of goods, services and/or currency is okay. Sitting on your duff in the dark will not fix anything, because those who created this environmental crisis will just create another when this one fails to keep the cash flowing in their direction.

  3. Robin Shreeves

    Jeff – I was going to point Bobby to that, too, but you beat me to it.

    Bobby, I bet you could do all that good stuff on Saturday before 8:30 pm and still turn your lights off for an hour and do more good stuff. Just a thought.

  4. Bobby B.

    You provided a link to a piece built upon the advanced literary technique of using big words like “stupid,” “loony,” and “deniers” when bashing CEI’s opposition event. I guess they pushed some of the author’s buttons and he responded emotionally. That’s okay since we all get tweaked from time-to-time.

    BTW, as I have long claimed that others are scanning my email and my posts on various websites, it is clear that the CEI has stolen this idea from me. On March 5th, I responded to a piece by Adam Williams with a short declaration of my Earth Hour plans. When I expanded upon my plans today, I was unaware that they had already transformed my little idea into a global event and given it an official name. I am probably due some royalties, but since it is for a good cause, I will make no such demands. Besides, the royalties would probably be viewed as a bonus and taxed at 90 percent.

  5. Bobby B.

    I forgot to ask a few questions in my last post, which some of your people may find important:

    1. Are the greens supposed to observe Earth Hour from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time or GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)?

    2. If local time, you do understand that this hardly qualifies as a simultaneous global event?

    3. If GMT, you do understand that it will be afternoon in the US and no big deal if we turn out our lights? WARNING! Do not stare at the only visible star if stargazing during a GMT based Earth Hour event. That type of blindness is irreversible.

    I know it’s a matter of semantics, but you need to keep everyone on the same page.

  6. Bobby B.

    So, “Earth Hour” is a somewhat misleading moniker?

    Maybe “Rolling Blackout” would be more appropriate. Oh, no, that would never do. When California has rolling blackouts, few see them as good things.

    I’ll keep working on it.

  7. paul

    I turned on every light available!

    This climate change stuff is pure BS.

    Next year, I want to rent a huge skylight or skylights. I want a 100KW light show with a big smoking diesel generator making the power!

  8. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    Andy and paul– hey, it’s your electric bill…

    But let’s take climate change out of the equation for just a moment. What’s wrong with promoting the conservation of resources on which we depend for the lifestyle we live?

  9. Bobby B.

    I am so bummed about this year’s Earth Hour. That darn groundhog thwarted the world’s best climate scientists once again. Anthropogenic Global Warming caused temperatures in south Louisiana to plummet into the low forties. Saturday was wet (from Thursday’s and Friday’s winter storms), clear, and cold with blustery north winds throughout the day. As such, the preparatory outdoor activities (fishing, barbecuing, baseball practice, washing the cars, etc.) all had to be cancelled. I did get outside just long enough to spread weed killer and lawn fertilizer, but it was a far cry from the protest that I had planned. Fortunately, the hour itself was not a total bust. I was able to leave several lights in the “ON” position while the central heating unit (out of firewood) maintained a toasty domicile. We enjoyed a movie with pile of home fries. I even perked up a bit when a look outside confirmed that none of my neighbors were participating in the black out either. I guess they – like Al Gore – had better things to do:


    I also saw this amazing news about a new crime wave that promises to spread:


    Would Aesop’s moral lesson be as follows?

    Create a green product that actually performs better and the world will beat a path to your doorstep. Mandate that people purchase crap with a green label, and they will turn to a life of crime.

  10. Chris R. Mason

    Oops, I forgot to partake in this years earth hour.
    However, I only leave my computer on in my house anyway.

    Why protest something like this?

  11. jACK


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