Earth Hour, Power Consumption and Climate Change
On Saturday, March 23 between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Red Deer residents and businesses are encouraged to join The City in turning off their unnecessary lights to reduce power consumption in support of Earth Hour 2013.
What is Earth Hour?
Earth Hour was started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 permillion electricity consumers switched off their lights for one hour to raise awareness about climate change. Participating in Earth Hour demonstrates a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and proves that individual efforts, when taken together, add up to make a positive difference for the environment.
How is The City of Red Deer involved?
Organized by the World Wildlife Fund, Earth Hour grew into a global movement in 2008, with The City of Red Deer joining 50 million people around the world by switching off their lights.
In 2009, Red Deer citizens and businesses reduced electricity consumption by 2.5 percent. This is enough energy to run four cars for one year and is equivalent to reducing almost 16 tonnes of CO2.
In 2010 Red Deer did even better, reducing electricity consumption by 4.6 percent. This is enough energy to run the entire traffic light system for 10 days or to power 30 houses for one month.
In 2011, Red Deer reduced electricity consumption by 1.27 percent. This is equivalent to taking 7,393 cars off of the road for one hour.
In 2012, Red Deerians helped to achieve a reduction of 4.2 percent. This saving is equivalent to turning off approximately 303,159 13-watt compact fluorescent bulbs for one hour.
What is climate change?
Climate change is a long-term shift in climate measured by changes in temperature, precipitation, winds, and other indicators. It is caused by increasing the proportion of GHGs that trap heat near the Earth’s surface. Although GHGs such as carbon dioxide and methane are a natural and critical part of our atmosphere, human activity has increased their proportion beyond what is naturally present, effectively increasing the planet’s insulation and trapping excess heat near the Earth’s surface.
The impacts of Climate change go beyond increasing average temperatures. Climate change may also cause changes in precipitation and weather patterns, potentially increasing the severity of weather related events such as storms, floods and droughts. The anticipated impacts of climate change will affect our economy, infrastructure, health and local environment.
How does shutting off your lights impact climate change?
The vast majority of GHG emissions are in the form of CO2 which is generated from burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, natural gas, oil and coal. In Alberta, approximately 59 percent of our electricity comes from coal fired power plants, so reducing our electricity use also reduces fossil fuel consumption and helps alleviate the impacts of climate change.
Does one hour really make a difference?
It's not about saving one hour of electricity it's about uniting people to protect the planet and going beyond the hour. The real significance of Earth Hour is in its educational value. Earth Hour reminds us that we can take steps to reduce our environmental impact. Participating in Earth Hour is also an easy way to raise awareness of climate change and sustainability issues, it demonstrates a commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, any reduction in unnecessary fossil fuel consumption has a beneficial impact on the environment.
What will I do while the power is off?
Shutting off unnecessary lights often makes people realize how dependant we are on electricity and electronic entertainment. The following list includes some fun things you can do without electricity.
- Go for a walk
- Play hide and go seek with a flashlight
- Have a candlelight dinner
- Plan an outdoor activity
- Play charades
- Roast marshmallows in the fireplace
- Look at the stars
- Play a musical instrument
- Play a board game by candlelight
Taking the Extra Step; going beyond the hour:
- Turn off or unplug non-essential power sources or appliances, such as chargers, coffee makers, and computers.
- Turn down the heat slightly
- Spread the word to your family and friends and encourage them to participate.
Earth Hour 2013 will occur on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. for more information, go to the Earth Hour website at http://wwf.ca/earthhour.