Sunday, February 17, 2008

Light in the Darkness: Earth Hour

1. All praise is due to Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light; yet those who disbelieve set up equals with their Lord.

97. And He it is Who has made the stars for you that you might follow the right way thereby in the darkness of the land and the sea; truly We have made plain the communications for a people who know.

122. Is he who was dead then We raised him to life and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like him whose likeness is that of one in utter darkness whence he cannot come forth? Thus what they did was made fair seeming to the unbelievers.

~Surah 6 Anam (The Cattle)

A couple years ago, there was a storm (small tornado?) in the Montgomery County area that made us all lose power for a couple of days. It was a hassle not to rely on electricity for light, not to have a way to preserve our food, and of course, have no INTERNET ACCESS. Good Lord, what would become of us? The TV wasn't a loss because we had already stopped watching mainstream TV, but we still relied on DVD's for entertainment and the internet for instant gratification. Still, those few hours during which we were 'disconnected' from the world were some of the most peaceful hours I've ever experienced. For the first time, the stars were distinct and visible from our porch. There was a general hush that replaced the usual pace of traffic, and time itself slowed down. With no other distractions, we all found ourselves reading by candlelight and dosing off to sleep much earlier than ever possible. It was the kind of beautiful experience that only happens when you slow your pace and simplify. Of course, it also reduces carbon emissions, doubling its beauty. Which is why I'm inviting everyone to join me in observing "Earth Hour" for one hour on March 23rd by turning off all your lights and anything else that you can that uses electricity between 8 and 9 PM.

It started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change? The answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour. On 31 March 2007, 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour - Earth Hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for one hour.
With Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turning their lights off, and unique events such as weddings by candlelight, the world took notice. Inspired by the collective effort of millions of Sydneysiders, many major global cities are joining Earth Hour in 2008, turning a symbolic event into a global movement.

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