Earth Week an Earth-sized bandwagon

The annual Earth Hour is tomorrow from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Every year, people turn off their lights for an hour to conserve energy and raise awareness about climate change, but like most of what people do to “save the environment” it’s more about a momentary emotional gratification than affecting a large-scale climate trend.

In 2013, Toronto Hydro reported a 205-megawatt reduction during Earth Hour, which is almost a seven per cent drop from usual levels at that time.

Turning out your lights and shutting off your television for an hour is supposed to be a call to action, a yearly reminder that the environment isn’t going to fix itself.

But the simplicity of pressing the power button or flipping the light switch can also give the impression that taking measures to prevent climate change are as easy as that. Taking significant measures in order to lessen our ecological footprint requires much research, knowledge and, in many cases, a lot of money and personal sacrifice.

People feel good about themselves by switching to more energy efficient light bulbs and composting their food waste at home – and those are important – but the impact those small changes make, even when adopted on a massive scale, pale in comparison to the world’s output of pollution.

New technologies save a bit of energy here and a bit of carbon emissions there, but the world’s population has grown by about 80-million people, year after year, for the past 10 years. Every one of those people will add to the annual emissions and the added infrastructure requirements to be housed, fed and clothed, among many other things, and that isn’t going to be offset by a seven per cent drop on electrical usage for one hour.

The world can wait for one individual or group to come up with a solution for us all, but if you’re really in the camp that feels the need to make a difference, that change is going to require more than a slight inconvenience.

While Earth Hour is a global event and brings together 170 countries and territories for the lights-out event, thus proposing to raise awareness about climate change, these same global numbers are also an invitation to jump on an Earth-sized bandwagon.

No serious action is being taken and instead of annually getting together for an hour and patting each other on the back there should be something more substantial in the place of these 60 minutes of non-action. Let’s put out a call to action to the world that requires everyone to do something that could actually make a difference.

And then we’ll see how many people really care about making a difference.

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