On Saturday, March 27, 2012 at 8:30 p.m., people around the world will turn off their lights (some will turn off everything that runs on electricity, even computers!).
In Gore’s Landing, a lot of us go for walks during that hour. There are a few street lights in the hamlet that we wish could be turned off, but overall the absence of artificial light is wonderful. If it’s a clear night the stars and moon illuminate our way as they have always done for Earth’s citizens.
Back at home we sit in the soft glow of olive oil lamps. It’s a good time to contemplate what else we can do to lessen our impact on the environment. Drive less? Use reusable bags? Don’t run water or leave lights on unnecessarily? I don’t know about you, but I get tired of hearing the same old list of small things. I’ve been doing those things for years. Since my home energy audit and fixing the things that were advised, I’ve had an ongoing challenge with myself to see how low my electric bill can go and how long I can make a tank of heating oil last and how long I can go without filling the car’s gas tank. The challenge is fun, but with prices always going up, even when I use less the costs increase.
How do we go beyond turning off the water when brushing our teeth?
There’s only so much we can do as right-thinking individuals. This is the stumbling block that frustrates me. Governments, corporations, people whose heads are still stuck in the sand, and those who simply don’t give a d*mn, trip us up every which way.
In my own tiny hamlet we see the wrong-headedness of our township councilors as they instruct employees to hack down trees instead of maintaining them, and hire consultants who say we must install paved sidewalks & gutters that direct runoff straight into the lake instead of leaving the ditches and nature to look after things. Garbage is strewn everywhere by visitors who just don’t get it; ATVs and snowmobiles trespass on property that is clearly posted “no wheeled vehicles” by owners who generously welcome walkers…
Even forgetting about climate change for a moment, the things just enumerated are things that add to or detract from everyday life. I don’t have the time, energy or money to participate in every committee or organization, or to lobby all levels of government to do what needs doing — that’s their job! How do we escape from this conundrum?
Turning the lights off for an hour on Saturday night might just open someone’s mind for the first time when they see how brightly those stars can shine! Simple? Yes! Effective? Who knows?