Friday, March 20, 2009

A Bright Idea: Celebrate Earth Hour, March 28

Later this year I'm headed to the desert to celebrate an important birthday. The one thing I look forward to the most is taking my kids out to see the dark, night sky. I think it will blow their minds to see so many stars, because here in DC we are so overwhelmed with bright artificial lights all the time that it is almost impossible to see any stars at all. Sometimes we get lucky and see a few. But the light pollution here is very bad.

So I was pschyed to see that once again this year, environmentalists around the world are planning to celebrate the darkness by asking people to join in the EARTH HOUR on Saturday, March 28. Starting at 8:30pm, you are asked to turn out your lights for one hour, in order to raise awareness about energy usage and waste.

Last year my really good friends who live in Key West, Florida celebrated by lighting candles and reading poetry. I'm thinking that this year I will turn out the lights with my kids and go outside to look for bats in the springtime night sky. I know that all around us lights will remain on... there's not much I can do about that. But I hope to at least get my kids thinking about light pollution and the animals that depend on the darkness for survival.

Meanwhile, organizers of this event are hoping for something even grander: they want to send a message to leaders who will participate in the U.N. Climate Change Conference, to be held in Copenhagen later this year. Their goal is to have 1 billion people world wide participate willing spend an hour in the dark, and register support on their website.

They may just succeed, too. According to news reports, last year more than 400 cities and 50 million people participated in a similar lights out event. Some cities even turned off the lights on important landmark buildings to show their support.

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