Since a few years back environmental organisations, headed by WWF, have organised Earth Hour in many countries across the world. By turning off the lights during one hour the aim is to put a mental spotlight on climate change.
In Botkyrka, in the outskirts of Stockholm, people spent Saturday night walking in a torchlight procession to a park, where artists performed. Landmarks in Stockholm as the Concert House and the Ericsson Globe had their floodlights turned off. In Varberg [map]people took the chance to watch the stars together, in Halmstad [map] a seminar about the dilemmas of economic growth was held and in the cathedral of Karlstad [map] people could listen to “Requiem for a light bulb”.
Among environmental and climate activists there are some discussions about whether or not these kinds of arrangements lead to actual changes in people’s behaviour in the long run. But others argue that although energy consumption might not go down a lot during this one hour (about 2,5 percent in the city of Örebro [map]), Earth Hour can work as a way of bringing up these issues, raise awareness and put political pressure on decision makers.
Many schools have taken the opportunity to talk a bit extra about climate change, and last week Sweden’s environment minister Andreas Carlgren received 1 500 hand prints from about 900 schools where the pupils have been asked to come up with suggestions of what politicians should do to make the world inhabitable for future generations.
Irrespective of measurable effects, I think spending some time without the machines we are so used to for keeping us busy all the time, can give some perspective.
Not long ago I heard a man talk about how he organised a stag-party for one of his friends who was getting married a couple of years ago. The stag-party was on the same day as Earth Hour, and he said that when the friends speak about this now, they say the hour when they turned off all lights and just played the guitar and sang in candle lights is the best memories that night gave them.