Join the Movement: Earth Hour 2014
Tomorrow evening – March 29th from 8:30-9:30pm local time – join millions of people around the world to celebrate the 8th annual Earth Hour! Earth Hour is a worldwide movement to unite people in taking just 60 minutes to unplug, shutdown and refrain from doing anything dependent on our planet’s limited resources. The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate that the little things we do in our individual lives make a difference. When everyone is acting to reduce their impact at the same time, it amplifies the power of a single person’s actions. While the event encourages participants to turn off non-essential lights for one hour, it can also be a time to completely detach yourself from anything that depends on fossil fuels. Turn off your computer or television and go for a walk around the neighborhood. Or eat a late dinner by the light of a beeswax candle.
It’s easy to be apathetic towards the environment and think that by changing your own individual behavior, you are not making much of a difference if others are not doing the same. But every choice we make, every small action we take, does reduce our impact. And if everyone were to also make those same behavioral changes, it would have a significant effect.
During Earth Hour 2013, millions of people across 7,001 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories participated in the movement. This year, some of the nation’s most prominent landmarks are participating in this event including the Seattle Space Needle, Chicago’s Navy Pier, the St. Louis Gateway Arch and New York City’s Empire State Building. On average, humans consume 62,000 terajoules of energy per hour. That equals about 1.48 million tons of oil every 60 minutes. As cliché as it may be, let these figures forever remind you to turn off the lights when you leave the room.
For Jews, it seems only apt that this event should occur at the end of Shabbat. While in the Reform tradition many of us continue to use electronics during Shabbat, perhaps we can draw the connection between Earth Hour and our weekly observance of the day of rest. Tomorrow evening, during Havdalah, let Earth Hour mark a separation between the world we live in and the world to be. In the world we live in, we carelessly use our resources without considering the consequences. In the world to be, we understand our obligation to the planet and act as stewards of the earth. Earth Hour is merely a symbolic event to remind us all that taking care of the planet and lessening our impact is not a difficult task and has the potential to make a big difference.