Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour: It's about Giant Pandas and Fire

Earth Hour... it was yesterday from 8:30-9:30pm. If you're not familiar with Earth Hour, it's a symbolic hour where people across the globe are encouraged to shut off their power/lights to raise awareness about global warming. This hour truly is symbolic in that shutting off power for one hour will not even make a tiny dent in the power company's profits, so the point is education. This year in many cities Earth Hour was a success, with an exception: Halifax.

The fiancé and I heard that Halifax was holding an event for Earth Hour in Parade Square with the World Wild Life Fund present. (Above picture is Halifax waterfront during Earth Hour... only a few buildings turned off their lights). We live about a 40 minute walk from down town Halifax and it was calling for -2 or -3 celcius, so walking was vetoed. Really, driving in our car to particpate in Earth Hour seemed a bit hypocritical so we checked out the public transit system. Unfortunately Halifax's transit system is so terrible that it would have been quicker for us to walk. So we drove hah! We tried to park as far away from Earth Hour to walk as much as we could, but it would seem everyone decided to each drive their nice carbon creating car and parking was impossible to find. So we parked next to Starbucks and got a horrible, non-fair traded, energy sucking lattes. 

Entering the square we were greeted by the beautiful flowing sounds of.... the Pussycat Dolls. Yep, "Don't you wish your gf" was blasting from the huge speakers surrounded by a plethora of battery operated candles, lighted buildings and tress and a ginormous projector lighting up the government building with a 60 second countdown. Hmmm. Something was definitely wrong with this picture. Tim Horton's had set up a counter and was serving free coffee... in regular non-recyclable coffee cups or these fantastic plastic, BPA ridden, reusable, non-recyclable Tim mugs. We stood there in awe of the hypocrisy (which we played our part).

There was music entertainment playing over the plugged in speaker system and when the countdown occured we stood expectantly wondering just how dark would it get. Two buildings and the tree lights were shut off. I could only see two stars. Truly the icing on the granola cake was when after five minutes without power, the emcee of this farce decided that she was going to turn the power back on for the microphone and the music. OMG. She announced the main act- a flame thrower. Ahem. I'm sure the flame thrower used fair-trade, organic gasoline in her act. This is when we left.

So- Haligonians celebrated Earth Hour, a symbolic opportunity to teach our society and children about the importance of our Earth, by drinking highly energy consuming coffee in plastic non-recyclable mugs, surrounded by street lights and chemical filled battery candles, listening to dance music being blasted over energy consuming speakers and watching a woman use gasoline and fire in her act as she shouted "Who turned off their lights??" to the crowd of people who drove their cars downtown to watch.

It was the most lame Earth Hour I have ever witnessed and I am sure the children who attended, if asked would have said that Earth Hour was about the huge Panda and a lady who throws fire. With our friends, we decided to do something for Earth Day (April 22nd) without Halifax's help. If it's warm enough we'll see about doing yoga in the park! Flame throwers are not part of the program. Neither are giant fake pandas.


  1. they said on the radio this morning that nova scotia power reported a 1% reduction in power use during earth hour (ie. one percent less than typical for that hour on an average saturday night i guess?). i was pretty disgusted by that low number - seriously - only 1%?

  2. ugh I know! Toronto had a decrease of 15%! It really was a frustrating moment. There was a lot of ranting on Andrew's part lol.

  3. Wow - I agree that is a lame "Earth Hour" event! :(

    Honestly, I think the energy implications of Earth Hour are limited. I think the idea of turning off ALL electrical devices for an hour has some more interesting potential to do with other issues like silence, self-reflection, creativity, etc.

  4. Ok, I have to chime in as "The Fiancé" here. Earth hour in Halifax sucked. Not only were there extra lights for the event, but there were also (at least) a hundred battery powered candles to keep the stage lit after the lights were turned out. Nothing greener than a hundred battery powered plastic candles!

    Speaking of the free coffee, I did see one girl there dump hers down the drainage grating. At least it wasn't as ungreen as the woman I saw a couple days prior at the Tim Hortons in Dalhousie University She bought a coffee in her travel mug (yay!) and then got an extra cup so she could roll up the rim, then lost and waved it at the lady behind the counter while saying "garbage!"

    Having keener eyesight than my better half, once the lights were out I think I could see THREE stars (hah!). The only building around us that shut off their lights only did it in the rooms facing us, but you could see the light from the back rooms filtering through. We left completely disgusted with the city.

    However! I was hungry so we stopped at Sobeys on the way home. I don't have a lot of nice things to say about Sobeys, but man, they did a lot better than the city for earth hour. All the extraneous lights in the coolers and over the produce were out. It looked like they were getting ready to close. If it wasn't for them I don't think I would have noticed any difference at all between earth day and any other day.

    Oh - as far as the fire lady asking "who turned out their lights?" - come on! Of COURSE they turned out their lights! THEY ARE NOT HOME!

  5. LOL- that's my eco-warrior. We are a pair :)

  6. More and more I have become disheartened and even disgusted with gestures like Earth Hour. From what you're describing, it sounds almost like Earth Hour did more harm than good there! There were similar 'festivities' in Edmonton that I did not attend, but they were probably in a similar vein from what I heard on the radio (i.e., I do believe there was a flamethrower there as well!). Apparently Edmonton decreased its electricity by 5% this year, over last year's 1%. Really, how pathetic. With all the hype and people can only decrease their consumption by a measley 5% for an hour? Oi. Andrew - I'm glad you had a good experience at the Sobeys - our local Sobeys is a really good community citizen too.


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