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Celebrate Earth Hour 2009 Featured on Mar 19, 2009
Join the global Earth Hour by turning off all your lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28.
Earth Hour is mostly about making a collective statement, but it will also reduce your CO2 by 0.4 lbs.
1148 people have reduced CO2 emissions by 459 lbs by completing this challenge so far.
You may not have noticed, but Carbonrally just went international!
Our friends in Canada, Mexico, and any other country can finally join us and take Carbonrally Challenges. So it seems particularly appropriate that the first Challenge we feature after making this exciting change is to promote the upcoming international Earth Hour. We invite the world to join the Rally… and we invite you to join people around the world in observing Earth Hour.
This Featured Challenge is based on a suggestion first made in our Challenge Workshop in 2008 by CathyInParkwood. More recently, at least 6 other Rallyers have brought Earth Hour back to our attention with their own Workshop suggestions. Thanks especially to greenmomonthego and rallyer16123.
The Carbon Connection
Turning out your lights does have a carbon connection. Almost 10% of the electricity used in our homes is used for lighting. Every time you turn on a light switch, you’re most likely using electricity that was made at a power plant that burns on fossil fuel. Decreasing your consumption of electricity by lowering your lights directly decreases greenhouse gas emissions from your local power plant.
But Earth Hour isn’t really about the effects of turning off some lights for one hour on one day. Like Carbonrally, Earth Hour is more about getting many people together to make a small change that collectively adds up to a big difference.
Earth Hour began with a single city — Sydney, Australia — back in 2007. That first Earth Hour had the participation of 2.2 million homes and businesses in Sydney. In 2008, Earth Hour went international with 50 million people switching off their lights. This year, participation is even greater. With over 80 countries and almost 1200 cities officially signed on, the project is on track to meet its goal of getting 1 billion people to shut off their lights next Saturday night. Depending on where you are, you may see the Empire State Building, the United Nations building, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Acropolis, the Sydney Opera House, and the Eiffel Tower all go dark.
Sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation, Earth Hour invites you to participate as a way to show governments and world leaders, global corporations and local businesses, that you care about the threat of climate change. The WWF calls Earth Hour a worldwide vote on the climate crisis. Turning off your lights is a vote for Earth; leaving your lights on is a vote for the status quo and the threat of unchecked climate change. This is a particularly important message to send ahead of this December’s Global Climate Change Conference. where world leaders will be discussing what comes after the Kyoto Protocol.
Getting It Done
What we’re asking for you to do is take part in the international observance of Earth Hour by turning out the lights in your home Saturday night, March 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time. Here are a few ideas about how to spend your time in the dark:
- Don’t forget! Put Earth Hour down in your calendar for 8:30 p.m. on March 28.
- You may be too late to organize anything for your town or even where you work. But you can still coordinate some sort of Earth Hour event with your family and friends. Better still, be an Earth Hour advocate. Call, email, or IM your friends. Blog or Twitter about Earth Hour. The impact Earth Hour has on climate change consciousness depends on the number of people who participate.
- Get with the spirit of Earth Hour and turn off your computers and monitors as well as your lights. And don’t turn on your big HDTV to keep yourself entertained for an hour. An LCD or plasma TV larger than about 40 inch diagonal uses more electricity in an hour than you are saving by turning off every light in your house.
- It also doesn’t make sense to turn off the lights in your house and then drive somewhere to observe Earth Hour. Your car will belch out twice as much CO2 in one mile than you’ll save by turning out your lights at home. So keep your Earth Hour local or take mass transportation. Invite friends from the neighborhood to come over and play scrabble by candlelight.
- Can’t take the darkness? You can always burn a soy or beeswax candle so that you can make sure not to stumble over the cat or the ottoman. Speaking of candles, have a late candlelit dinner with someone special. Just remember to finish cooking before 8:30.
- Two words: Flashlight Twister.
- If you aren’t spending Earth Hour at a gathering or with friends, take the time to sit down wherever you are and call someone you haven’t connected with in a while.
- Spend Earth Hour outside if you can. Take a candle out on the deck or porch. Put on a sweater and sit on the stairs in front of your building. Look at the stars. Breathe the air. Listen. Maybe you can’t hear them, but there are millions of other people appreciating the planet at the same time you are. Pretty cool, huh?
We know that many of you are already aware of Earth Hour and probably have plans on how to observe it. What do you plan to be doing during Earth Hour? Does your town or school have any special activities planned? Please share your suggestions and thoughts about Earth Hour with fellow Rallyers in the forum section below.
Rules of the Challenge
This is a one-shot, one-time-only Challenge. The time of the Challenge is next Saturday night, March 28, 2009. Wherever you live, the Challenge is to turn off all of your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time. While the whole point of Earth Hour isn’t about the CO2 saved in one hour, if you accept this Challenge, you will immediately see 0.4 pounds of CO2 reduction added to your Rally account.
To read more about Earth Hour and the international effort to stop global warming, visit the Earth Hour international web site. You’ll find that there are also separate sites for Earth Hour activities in specific countries (such as the U.S. Earth Hour site). You can also follow the most recent Earth Hour U.S. developments on Twitter.
See the Math
Let’s start with the known or estimated numbers:
- We are assuming that the average home normally has 8 electric lights burning at night. Apartment dwellers and students living in dorms have fewer than 8 lights burning at night. Families living in large houses often have more than 8 lights burning.
- Let’s say that of those 8 lights, 6 are already equipped with compact fluorescent bulbs (see our CFL Challenge if you haven’t already started making the switch or have more CFLs to claim) and 2 are still burning incandescent bulbs.
- Assume the electricity use of the CFLs averages 18 watts per bulb and the incandescent bulbs average 75 watts per bulb. The total electricity need for these 6 bulbs is 258 watts.
- The idea of Earth Hour is to turn off your lights for one hour.
- A kilowatt is equal to 1000 watts. Using 1 kilowatt for 1 hour is what your electric company describes as 1 kilowatt-hour (kWh).
- The 8 light bulbs with a total rating of 258 watts would use 0.26 kWh of electricity if they were burning during the party.
- A fossil fuel burning power plant releases an average 1.55 pounds of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour it creates.
- Putting it all together, you’ll save about 0.4 pounds of CO2 by turning off those 8 light bulbs during your Earth Hour.
Less than half a pound of CO2 saved may not seem like a lot. But when you multiply that half pound by the hundreds (or thousands!) of Rallyers taking this Challenge with you, that number increases quickly. Multiply it by the one billion people the WWF is expecting to take part in Earth Hour could add up to a quarter of a million TONS of CO2 kept out of Earth’s atmosphere, just by everyone doing one simple thing — together. So send a clear message to governments and politicians around the globe. Vote for Earth next week. And spread the word, Rallyers!
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