Will anyone be taking part in Earth Hour 2010? At 8.30pm local time on Saturday, March 27th, cities, businesses and homes across the world turn off their light electricity for an hour to show solidarity and call for action on climate change. Many iconic landmarks like Sydney Harbour Bridge, Big Ben in London , Tour Effel a Paris, CN Tower in Toronto, The Golden Gate Bridge in SanFran will have lights switched off for one hour as a symbol of hope for a cause that is urgent.
I am all for raising awareness and the movement has raised considerable momentum across the globe since it started. It is truly quite magnificent. From East to West within 24 hours, we probably do save a considerable amount of energy for this occasion.
However, I do have a funny story from last year...
This day last year, Will and I were in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and March 27th 2009 happened to be a Friday. We were walking down the main street from Town Hall when traffic all of a sudden picked up like crazy. You have to understand our amazement because ... 1. Being Vietnamese I am already used to the crazy traffic and 2. my travel partner was also used to it after one week in Vietnam. But that night, it was unbelievable!!! The streets were so thick of traffic, literally one motorbike after another in a constant stream, like a never ending snake making its way through the quite large boulevards of HCMC. And they didn't seem to be moving either. Motorbikes actually spilled on to pavements to try and get ahead of each other... Where they were trying to go, we had no idea. We were just so stunned with the sight that was in front of us. Will kept asking me what was happening and I seriously was clueless. I knew it was some sort of celebrations as the Viet like to show their enthusiasm and solidarity on the streets.
In no time I realized it was Earth Hour as there was music and speeches from somewhere near the City Theatre. So everyone had gathered in the centre to celebrate the occasion, which was nice. But it just happened that they were all on their motorbikes, all of which were on power but none was moving anywhere. I hope the electricity they saved on this occasion compensated for the amount of fuel that was used and released into the city air. If that made sense?
So my point is, raising awareness is important... but we hope that that awareness will go further and turn into actions; that it won't stop at being just "noise". We have enough of that in the world.
As for our part, we were strolling the streets of Saigon that night on foot so we did our Earth Hour duty by saving the electricity of our hotel room. That probably benefited the hotel more than anyone else. This year, we will light candles in central London and smoke up on the balcony before hitting London night life. Hell yeah!
No photograph taken that night. This is a video of us crossing traffic on a typical normal day in HCMC. Gotta love Asia.