A lot of people will be lighting candles to try to do their part for Earth Hour. Depending on our beliefs and/or cynicism, maybe we’re lighting a candle and praying for this planet.
Either way, it’s a simple and altruistic initiative, and no great hardship to unplug for an hour. Some families in the city make it an annual tradition to participate, lighting enough candles to play board games or have a fondue or that sort of good old-fashioned fun.
B.C. Hydro tracks communities’ Earth Hour energy usage and praises communities such as Whistler, which managed to cut its energy load by more than seven per cent during Earth Hour last year. Across the province, the efforts have saved megawatt hours worth of electricity. In Nanaimo, residents haven’t unplugged as effectively and have sometimes even seen energy use increases some years. We like to think we’re an environmentally minded population here, so there’s no reason we can’t try to be leaders in this.
An hour makes a difference, but we should be trending toward cutting our electricity usage at any hour. There are good reasons to do so. Even if some of our energy sources are renewable, there may be other hidden costs to our environment. As the Site C dam project progresses, for example, we see how a massive-scale project impacts the land and public coffers, just to tap into a renewable resource.
It’s not just large government expenditures, either. Anyone who’s paying the bills know that user fees continue to increase, hydro included. It doesn’t seem to take much electricity for our Step 1 charges to ascend to Step 2 costs, as our smart meters keep counting that current.
Earth Hour is a gimmick, but it works if it reminds us to try to make a difference to our pocketbooks and our planet. Let’s win Earth Hour, and then try to win the hours after that, too.