Earth Hour

Just got in from spending a (cold) hour or a little more out around the downtown area to take in Earth Hour.

I missed it last year (due to my own stupid scheduling) but the year before (the inaugural year) I went out to Nathan Phillips Square to take in the Nelly Furtado concert and to celebrate with hundreds of other people. It was definitely really cool to see all the downtown lights go out, but upon closer inspection I was surprised to find a number of other lights on – mostly glowing corporate logos. I was particularly disappointed in the Eaton Centre that claimed to be participating yet failed miserably both inside and out. I took pictures and posted them on Flickr – part way through the night I had given up on photographing the dark and focused on all these wastes of electricity in what was supposed to be our finest hour.

This year, when fewer people and companies are paying attention to Earth Hour (or anything environmental), I decided to set out with a dual purpose in mind: First, get pictures of buildings and signs nicely darkened (there’s something soothing about that).  Second, to document buildings and spaces that are brightly lit needlessly — not to show organizations that were not participating in Earth Hour, but to show things that really have no need to be lit at 9 o’clock on a Saturday night anyway.  I’d love to find out if there are any studies on how much damage our economy takes from unnecessary electricity use – think of the resources we could be using towards more productive things.  Anyways, after switching to iPhone since it actually captures dark scenes better than a regular camera (my camera tries too hard to have a good picture and lets in a lot of light or has a really long exposure, making the photo really blurry), I captured what I saw and have posted it on Flickr again.  As expected, on the surface there were some nice dark spots, but on the whole most of it was cosmetic, and there were tons of lights on that had no business being on at this time anyway.

I have to say, I always get depressed when I start thinking about these things.  Why on Earth would a store that is in a mall, and closed, need (or even want) to have signs on? I can understand keeping a minimum amount of lighting for security, but having signs lit up for no one to see seems, to me, wasteful.  And unnecessary. It’s things like this that remind me of how little I want to buy things from these companies – which leads to the despair of realizing that participating in the economy at all means supporting large companies, in one way or another.  I just purchased a new computer – I bought it from Dell who assembled it in China, shipped it to the US, and then shipped it to me in Canada… but after thinking about what the alternatives were, I realized there weren’t any.  This is a total tangent so I’ll end it here – but I’m searching for ways to deal with the problem of energy waste, and, without some sort of extreme governmental action (cap-and-trade, and even a carbon tax, would only impose financial penalties which would likely be ignored by those involved), I can’t think of any.  

Frustrating.

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