Earth Hour to darken the Beach

Earth Hour 2012 is on Saturday, March 31. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., many lights in Toronto will be turned off in an effort to raise awareness of climate change. Last year over 135 countries participated in the global initiative. But is one hour enough? Does Earth Hour make a difference?

“The planet is long past the point, in terms of the critical need for action, where one hour of turning out lights and turning off TVs on March 31 is meaningful,” said Bruce Crofts, one of the guiding members of the East Toronto Climate Action Group, an organization formed 10 years ago to address environmental issues locally. “We need much stronger action.”

As a result, Crofts and his wife Susan won’t be doing anything special for Earth Hour. Instead, they have made lifestyle changes such as installing solar panels, on-demand hot water and foam insulation in their home.

Tyler Hamilton, editor of Corporate Knights magazine and author of Mad Like Tesla: Underdog Inventors and their Relentless Pursuit of Clean Energy, agrees that Earth Hour in and of itself may not be enough.

“It shouldn’t be this one day of relieving guilt, but a reminder that these are things we have to do all the time in our daily lives,” he said. “Earth Hour is good for raising awareness.”

Hamilton, a father of two, will be turning out the lights, lighting candles and playing cards during Earth Hour.

“I think it’s important, especially if you have kids, to take part in it because it raises an issue that you don’t necessarily think about 365 days a year. But at the same time I think it’s important that as a parent you emphasize to your children and yourself that we need to stop thinking about it as just one day a year and that what we do on that day is something we should try to do every day,” he said.

Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon is an environmental activist who embraces Earth Hour. She hosts a neighbourhood Black Out Earth Hour party.

“We turn our breaker off for five to six hours and use beeswax candles and wind-up flashlights. Everyone shares a little talent for entertainment, like a ceileigh,” she said.

McMahon believes Earth Hour is making a difference.

“I think any chance we get to be more mindful of our impact on the planet is a good thing,” she said.

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