Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tango in the Dark :: Earth Hour 2010

Earth Lights at Night

Okay, not really. But I had to pull in my tango readers to another one of my environmental posts. Plus, Earth Hour 2010 [tonight, March 27, 8:30pm local time wherever you are] is too early in the evening for us to actually dance tango in the dark. Dancing tango in the dark/absence of light would be disastrous.

But this statement makes me wonder if there are not, in fact lots of people dancing tango in the dark, figuratively speaking. But that is a subject for another post.

Earth Hour is largely symbolic - in theory, millions of people coming together across the Planet Earth to turn the lights off. Symbolic of climate change, which for me translates into energy usage, or energy over-usage. It seems no one, especially not any world leader, has the balls to say something like "humanity is currently using levels of energy (from all sources) that are unsustainable over even the next one hundred years". In fact, most world leaders only talk about how we can/must produce MORE energy.

I don't want this to turn into a diatribe, or "troglodytical rant", so I'll leave it at this: One hundred years ago the world at large barely even had electricity - let's call it zero energy - unless you want to count horses and oxen as energy. Today, with the flip of the switch or a tweak of the T-stat, we don't even think about the energy we are using, much less the effects of burning those hydrocarbons on the planet. We can't even comprehend life without limitless energy. We can't even comprehend live with a 25% reduction in our energy use through conservation. People actually used to live without refrigerators and air conditioning in the not too distant past.

I'm not advocating this as a solution. I'm advocating it as a conceptual trigger to get us to start thinking about something between zero energy usage and current energy usage. Sustainability is the key word.

Sustainability. Energy Frugality.

How we get there is the subject of another post.

For now, turn out the lights for an hour tonight at 8:30pm. From then on, be aware of your own energy usage around the house - lights & t-stat mostly. There are other conservation measures we can all take - weatherstripping, caulking, additional insulation, sun shading, bring back the screen doors - again, lots of stuff that is the subject of yet another post.

You might also want to check out my post from last fall - "Brother can you spare 22 terawatts?" - where I tried to get my head around the energy usage/capacity/requirements for the entire planet.

Here's the text from the "About Earth Hour" page:

Note that you can "join" the movement to show your support.

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations. Learn more about how Earth Hour began, what we’ve accomplished, and what is in store for 2010.

Here's another cool image I ran across in my search for the one at the top of the post - a composite image from NASA showing the sunset over Western Europe and Africa, with the night city lights showing. Keep in mind one would never see something like this with the naked/nekkid eye, as it is a composite of many satellite images.

Europe Sunset Composite Image

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