Earth Hour, starting off small

Earth Hour was this past Saturday and leading up to it, I started to hear a lot of negative responses in regards to it.

I read an editorial in The Vancouver Sun by an economics professor saying Earth Hour’s mandate was somehow to demonize electricity; that every modern convenience of man leads back to electricity and somehow by turning off your lights for one hour, you were disgracing humanity’s long history of enlightenment.

It said that one hour of sitting in the dark wouldn’t actually save any amount of electricity that would matter.

But I don’t think Earth Hour is about that, I think it’s more about giving people the option to recognize that it isn’t that difficult to make small changes, in the same way that leaving your tap dripping may not waste as much water as if it were full-on gushing –  it still will add up.

If everyone leaves their sinks gushing, then it won’t take us too long to run out of water.

With complaints, I start to wonder what the harm could be. Are the power companies going out of business from the hour? I doubt it.

So even if there aren’t any benefits to the environment or to saving money on electricity for that hour, maybe it can still help people get a grasp on ways to begin to change.

Things on the level of global changes are big concepts, so it’s easy to decide that you won’t change much of anything.

It’s also easy to put in a good effort for an hour and then forget about it, but at least it gets people thinking about it.

Because if conserving energy is anything like doing exercise, then planning to run a marathon usually ends in me not going for a run.

In the same way, planning to save the world may lead to a quick submission to the forces leaning down on you, the forces that make the challenges seem too big.

It’s better to start out small. If you plan to go for a five-minute jog, then it might be easier to motivate yourself to go in the first place and you might not be back for an hour.

So by that logic, turn off your lights for an hour on the upcoming Earth Day, which is April 22, and maybe something good will happen, like you’ll forget to turn them back on.

– Arne Petryshen is a reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette