I know it is over a week since Earth Hour was celebrated around the world, but I want to post my thoughts anyway. Although little has been said in the South African media since Saturday 26 March, the friends I asked all said they had supported Earth Hour. We did too. I spent Earth Hour (and a bit) lying in the dark thinking. I thought about the recent earthquakes which caused such devastation in Japan and New Zealand. I also wondered what a difference Earth Hour was making – not only in South Africa, but throughout the world.
According to Eskom (our local power company – there’s only one here!)
During Earth Hour on Saturday South Africans saved 350 megawatts of electricity, enough to power Bloemfontein for a whole day, Eskom said on Tuesday.
“As part of its support for the Earth Hour campaign, Eskom measured the reduction in electricity used during the hour against typical consumption for this time on an average Saturday evening,” said spokesperson Hillary Joffe . . . Read more
Bloemfontein is the judicial capital of South Africa (the seat for the Supreme Court of Appeal) and is a “university town”. It is the home town of some very famous South African sportsmen and women. Bloemfontein is also where The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien was born. Although since he left there at the age of 3, I don’t think it provided much inspiration for creation of Middle Earth! Population-wise at approximately 370 000 residents it is a much smaller city than Johannesburg (7.15 million residents) or Cape Town (3.5 million residents)*.
So what does a saving of 350 megawatts of electricity mean? Not a lot as a one time event, but the savings could be quite significant if people were to continue conserving power and there was an accumulative effect. What I personally experienced though, was that during this year’s Earth Hour there was a greater awareness in South Africa of the environmental issues – including climate change. There was a feeling of solidarity with people from all over the world, together with the understanding that the environmental problems facing the world today, cannot be solved by one nation. That is what events like Earth Hour are all about.
The official Earth Hour site had a blog with posts filed from each country as it went through Earth Hour. South Africa’s contribution was titled “Soweto again demonstrates power of grassroots action“. If you want to check out what happened in your country go to the Earth Hour blog here.
[*These figures are from Wikipedia, and may vary according to how the different metropolitan areas are delineated. However, I think it gives a good indication of the comparative sizes of these cities.]