The Environmental Advocate: Earth Hour 2011 results are in

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By Laura Spehar

Did you turn out the lights on Saturday in honor of Earth Hour? Around the world, it is estimated that over a billion people from 134 countries participated in the fifth annual event.

It was New Brunswick’s most successful Earth Hour to date, according to NB Power. Electricity consumption decreased by 24 megawatts, which is the equivalent to seeing 480,000 lights turned off in the province.

Across the border in British Columbia, the province saved almost twice the electricity compared to last year. According to BC Hydro, British Columbians saved 117 megawatt hours of electricity and reduced the provincial electricity load by 1.8 percent during Saturday’s Earth Hour.

How did Edmonds do? The answer still needs to be researched. You and I know, however, if we participated, threw an Earth Hour house party or event, or even knew there was such a thing as “Earth Hour.” Turning off the lights on March 26 was just a step to recognize that planet Earth needs our help. Together, we can protect Earth’s precious resources by conserving, developing and spreading the word about this event next year here in Edmonds.

Earth Hour was first started in Australia in 2007 as a way to bring the community together to acknowledge the importance of reducing consumption of Earth’s natural resources.  Turning off the lights for an hour helps us see the impact we have on the environment. In the U.S., it is estimated that 80 million people joined the Earth Hour movement in 2009, which had grown to nearly 1 billion globally. Recent estimates show 1 billion supporters in 4,100 cities from 87 countries located on seven different joined in turning off their lights for earth hour.

Are you ready to host an Earth Hour event next year and have a sing-a-long by the bon fire, star gaze together and more? By turning off and unplugging for at least for an hour, it demonstrates to your neighbors and friends that you care about our environment. Teachers can find ideas and projects to involve their students in Earth Hour by visiting the Earth Hour Teachers Facebook page. Our Mayor and City Council can copy a proclamation from the Earth Hour’s website to fit our city’s needs. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all to “use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light.”

Are you curious enough to start this movement in Edmonds? If so, go to beyondthehour.org and get ready to turn off to turn on new insight and ideas.

Laura Spehar is a Montessori teacher and environmental educator. She is a WSU Master Gardener, Beach Watcher and Carbon Master, and holds certifications in wildlife habitat and native plant stewardships. Spehar serves on the Snohomish Conservation District’s Advisory Board, Pilchuck Audubon Society Board, Friends of the Edmonds Library Board, and the City of Edmonds Mayor’s Climate Action Committee Board and Tree Board. She was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Service Award in 2010. Spehar lives in Edmonds with her husband Paul and their two dogs Goldie and Happy on two acres of well-loved and protected wetland/stream side habitat.

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