Saturday, March 31, 2012

Earth Hour : An Irony?

From 8:30 to 9:30 tonight, the world celebrated Earth Hour.  Earth Hour is scheduled on the last Saturday of every March.  This activity started in 2007 in Australia and became global a year after with millions participating from different parts of the world.  Earth Hour aims to create awareness on the effects of climate change and and to help save the environment from pollution, particularly carbon emission. 

So, during Earth Hour, people from all over the world switch off their lights - house and commercial establishments - to show support in saving the environment.  And in turn, candles are burned to light up the area.

Some photos (below) I got from the different websites show people participating Earth Hour.   More than a hundred countries is already participating in this activity.

The Earth Hour activity is really a good move to help create awareness in saving the environment.  However, I found, the way it is celebrated, to be a bit ironic.  You switch off the lights (bulbs or tubes) and replace it with candles, lots of candles.  And I find this ironic, because candles also have carbon emissions.  According to Stubborn Mule,  a small candle lighted in an hour burns at least 2.5 grams of candlewax which contains about 2 grams of carbon that produces 7 grams of carbon emissions.  Burning candles could be acceptable if you would only light 1 or 2 in an area.  However, based on the photos above, so many candles in total are being burned by participants in every area.  If hundreds of millions participated during Earth Hour, then assuming we have a one-is-to-one ratio of person to candle, people who participated in Earth Hour using candles would have already burned hundreds of millions of candles too.  Now, I don't think that would help the environment.

Since Earth Hour's celebration became global, I never had once participated in it.  Well, I think I don't need to.  It's only one hour.  While what I practice already at home is more than an hour.  In 2009, me and my husband changed all our fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs at home to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).  From 40 watts and 20 watts lights, we now use only 10 watts and 5 watts.  Aside from helping the environment, we definitely saved on our electricity bills - 50% decrease!  And in 2010, we bought 2 LED bulbs, 5 watts and 3 watts, to replace two 10 watts CFL.  We have two 5-watt bulb in our bedroom.  The second bulb is only switched-on when there is a need to read something.  So, basically, we only use a 5-watt bulb (LED) in our bedroom at night.  In the office at work, I turn off my monitor whenever I would not be using my computer for at least 15 minutes.

For Iligan City, if the people, most particularly the government officials, are serious in helping the environment, I suggest they do the following :

1.  Be sure to switch off the street lights during the day.   It definitely is useless to leave it switched on.  
2.  Replace sodium bulb and mercury bulb street lights with LED street light. A comparison between sodium bulb and LED lamp street lights in terms of cost and carbon emissions can be found here.
3.  Replace all fluorescent tubes and incandescent bulbs with CFL or LED in all government offices. 
4.  Redesign existing government buildings (like the city hall) that would allow natural light to enter the building during daytime so that only a minimal number of light bulbs will be needed. 
5.  Redesign electrical wiring lay-out so that separate switches would be used for lights in different areas.  This way, when only one employee is in the office, the lights in his office area will only be the one switched on.   At present, and what has been used for many years, there is only one or two switches in an office.  Thereby having the all the lights turned-on even when only an area of the office is in use.
6.  Remove all TV appliances in government offices.  They definitely are not necessary.  And it only becomes another factor for employees to not be doing their work.  

So far this is what I can think of.  With these, aside from helping the environment, it would greatly save a lot on electricity cost.  And the savings on electric bill by the government can be used to implement other important programs. 

And by the way, this year's Earth Hour challenge theme is "I Will If You Will".  Well, I don't buy this.   For me it should be  "To Save the Earth, I am Doing This.  What About You?".  And my philosophy is "I will do this even if you will not".   Because when one does some good things beneficial to the environment without waiting for the others to do something, and if everyone will have the same philosophy, then the Earth would be a better and cleaner place to live in.  :-) 

PS.  As the people around the world are celebrating Earth Hour, I am writing this blogpost with only a 5-watt LED bulb switched on in my room and a 5-watt CFL lamp in the porch switched on till morning.  By the way, the LED bulbs we bought last 2010 are still not yet replaced, and it's already almost 2 years.  :-D

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