Earth Hour: Because change is hard

The second annual Earth Hour will be observed  Saturday, March 27, 2010, at 8:30 p.m. local time. According to the official Earth Hour web site, as people around the world turn their lights off at the scheduled hour, a blackout “will once again cascade around the globe, from New Zealand to Hawaii.” The Los Angeles Times calls Earth Hour “the world’s largest global climate change initiative.” Earth Hour, says the Times, is a “global call to action . . . a call to stand up and take responsibility.”

Earth Hour is easy

In the most basic sense of the word, Earth Hour’s call to action is the very least we can do. Taking part in Earth Hour doesn’t mean we have to actually take responsibility for the environment by changing any part of the way we live or consume. All we have to do is switch off the lights for an hour.

Shop, donate, borrow money

It costs nothing to participate in Earth Hour; however, those who hope that buying more merchandise will help stop climate change, can shop for Earth Hour Gear on the official web site. Those who believe it may make better environmental sense to donate money directly to Earth Hour can do that online, too. At the time of this writing, Earth Hour Gear was not yet available, but donations can be made now, so it’s not too early to fill out a personal loan application if you need a loan to do your part for Earth Hour.

Climate change in a nutshell

According to the Earth Hour web site, the effects of climate change are being felt throughout the United States. Alaska’s climate has warmed twice as quickly as the mainland United States. Spring snowmelt is earlier, sea ice is reduced, glaciers are retreating and permafrost is thawing. In the Northwestern states, winters are wetter and summers are drier, water supplies are strained and erosion is increasing. In the Southwest, water supplies are becoming increasingly scarce and droughts are a significant concern.

In the Midwest, heavy downpours are now twice as frequent as they were 100 years ago and lake ice is reduced. The Northeast has less snow and more rain. The Southeast has more hurricanes, increased air temperatures, higher winds, greater rainfall, and more storm surges. On the coastlines and islands, which are particularly sensitive to impacts of climate change, sea levels are rising, shorelines are eroding, wetlands are drowning and the man-made environment is threatened.

Taking a real stance doesn’t have to be hard

It makes sense to take a stance about global climate change, but taking responsibility for the problem requires more than an annual hour-long blackout ritual. Taking responsibility, on the other hand, doesn’t have to involve living in a teepee without electricity or running water.

A person might ride a bike on occasion instead of driving a car, purchase fewer wasteful and unnecessary products, or choose foods that require less fossil fuel energy to produce. There’s nothing to stop people from switching off the lights for Earth Hour while making real changes, too; except, of course, that change is hard and flipping a switch is easy.

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