What can I say that can be better said than this short video?
What are you doing?
I’m turning off the lights and having a neighbourhood party! We’ll be playing music from around the world and singing. And maybe telling ghost stories. The kinds of things I remember us doing when there were power-outs in India in the summer (we grumbled too, but I don’t plan to do that this time).
This is a historic occasion — the largest global call to action against climate change. The idea is to send a message to governments and policy makers that people want serious action at the Copenhagen meeting in December to counter climate change. Since lighting is a big fraction of electricity usage and since coal-fired power plants are the largest single source of carbon dioxide emissions, this symbolic act of turning off the lights for an hour speaks volumes.
Already scientists’ worst fears are being realized, with the melting of the icecaps at an unprecedented rate and the extreme weather events and sea level rise. But we have a window of time in which to act.
So let us act, us earthlings, SF writers and readers, plumbers and professors. Please publicize on your blogs and websites and social networks!
So far, over 1800 cities have signed up, including Boston, Washington D.C., Beijing, Copenhagen, Paris, Capetown… Even the Eiffel tower is going to turn off its lights! And over 7000 schools, 18,000 businesses and millions of individuals around the world. Here is more information and a place to sign up.
For folks in India, here is the Indian website for Earth Hour. The campaign has the blessings of Aamir Khan!
Earth Hour is being organized by the World Wildlife Fund. For me this has a particular significance because when I was a young teen in Delhi, I became a member of WWF and remained so for many years. The office was a room in one of the big government bungalows that had been built by the British — I remember the gorgeous lawns, the thick yellow-plastered walls, the air of hushed importance of the place. I think it may have been the home of some big shot in the government. As a terminally shy kid the one thing that would make my speak with passionate fervor was the situation of vanishing wildlife and the wilderness — within a month of membership I had signed on 15 classmates as members!
The “situation” is much worse than it was all those years ago. Then, I felt for the creatures whose habitats were being destroyed by so-called development, and for the great tracts of forest being cut down. Later, through my membership with that amazing and unique organization, Kalpavriksh, I realized how the fate of other species was connected with our own, and with social justice issues, and learned to regard “economics versus ecology” as a false dichotomy. But even in those days I could not imagine that a couple of decades of economic liberalization in my country (starting in the 1990’s) would end up in such a mass destruction of the environment as to make all previous assaults pale into insignificance. That the ravenous appetite for an energy-consuming lifestyle like that of the West would also engulf India, displacing a slower, more modest way of living. And I surely could not have imagined that in my lifetime I would be a part of a global movement to literally save the world: the specter of global warming had not raised its ugly head in those innocent days. In those days, although I penned letters to editors about how we were at the eleventh hour, I could not have imagined, as I know now, that we would ever be this close to midnight.