Mar 29, 2008

Earth Hour: Worth the Energy?

This evening saw the lights go off in Brisbane as part of Earth Hour 2008.

Sadly, with street & traffic lights, transmission towers and guidance beams remaining on, the streets were not (as I'd hoped) plunged in a post-apocalyptic mire, crawling with flesh-eating zombies and flesh-scarring emos.

Still, I did my bit - turned off all the lights and appliances in Chez Clumsy - then grabbed my camera and took to the streets, in the hope of scoring some magnificent photos of a dark and sombre River City. Didn't really turn out that way, but here are the results nonetheless.

This is the view from the Normanby five-ways across the Roma Street Parklands towards North Quay.

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman has been a big supporter of Earth Hour, but I couldn't help noticing his (now out-of-date) election billboard on Musgrave Road was still lit up like a Christmas tree:

Here's a sight - Brisbane's infamous Suncorp-Metway digital clock, which makes the time available across the CBD. This is the first time it's been switched off in 30 years.

However, less than five minutes later, like a burning, dawning sun, the colossal timepiece burst into electric flame again, signalling the end of the hour of darkness with a jaunty 9:01. The camera can't even make out the digits, such was its brightness:

I wasn't in a good position to see major structures like the Story Bridge, Kangaroo Point cliffs, City Hall, XXXX Brewery and State Library go dark, so I can't really judge how effective the campaign was. However, the streets of Spring Hill seemed much the same as usual, if not a little quiet for a Saturday night. As I began my walk, I heard a group of residents in an apartment yelling to their neighbours to "turn them off, it's Earth Hour!", but there was little other evidence to show a mass dimming of the lights.

Anybody else get out and about? Was there much participation in suburbs further out from the city? And was Earth Hour worth the energy?


  1. I saw the reminder in Friday's paper, but totally forgot on saturday.
    I'm in the "it's a croc" camp.
    Why not have the initiative to actually do it more often - instead of eveyone's pats on the back for turning the harbour bridge off one night.

    I'm angry today i think

  2. The big problem is that the lights are the tiniest part of the energy we use. Lighting use is meagre compared to heating, cooling and motion.

    That's why a torch runs for weeks on a couple of AA batteries but a remote control car burns up power in an hour.

    Now a bunch of people are sitting around feeling self satisfied thinking they've done the right thing while they enjoy a nice, HOT cup of tea.

  3. Oh yeah, I know, believe me.

    When I finished wandering the streets, I went back to Chez Clumsy, turned the lights and appliances back on, rebooted my laptop and uploaded those photos (I actually meant to include that on the entry!).

    That's the problem with somewhat symbolic gestures - you sometimes need a big statement to try to actual get the ball rolling, but the effectiveness of the gesture can be questionable.

    Still, it helped assauge my conscience for a few seconds. ;)

  4. I know where I was for most of Earth Hour, Nat! I was talking to you amongst others! :)

    I did see a snippet on the news down here tonight showing the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park having their lights turned off. It did look spectacular. Richard will be happy that you managed to get some good shots. :)

  5. I must say I was one of the "change your habits don't play into the gimmick" people.
    Our suburb was pretty dark, when we turned our lights off at about five past eight. One neighbour up the street had their back deck light on at that stage, but turned it off when they realised all the other houses were in darkness.

    The street lights and the bright lights of the local strip of shops kind diminished the effect... but it was pretty dark out.

    I think a "I turn my lights off as I leave the room" club would be a better one to join.

    P.S. I didn't realise I was supposed to turn my appliances off I thought It was all about the lights..

  6. After EH, I read a comment on Twitter that there was a fireworks display in Sydney just after the event. Did that happen? I wonder if was a co-incidience or if it was a direct result of it. If it was the latter, it is poor form.

    It reminds me of the last NYE in Sydney when they spent millions on 20 minutes for fireworks at midnight. Then Channel 10 came on and said what a great display it was. Then they said the official charity of the night was the WWF.

    Mixed signals, anyone?

  7. I am listening to The Shebang podcast from Monday at the moment.

    3rd wheel Paul Murray was doing a special EH show on Saturday night and confirmed the post EH fireworks I mentioned earlier.