Talking point: Lights out

Written by on 11 March 2014

On 23 March, Scottish landmarks and households will again be plunged into darkness as they participate in Earth Hour.

The campaign that started off in Sydney in 2007, where 2.2m people agreed to switch off all nonessential lights, is now a global event and we will again be treated to pictures of famous landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle and the Forth Rail Bridge in complete darkness – as well as cutting other power sources.

Organiser WWF’s aim is to highlight climate change and energy use in the 21st century.

But is it working?

Certainly some, be they businesses, public authorities or the general public, are thinking hard about the energy they use either by having a strict lights-off policy, or even installing movement sensors to turn off the lights in empty buildings.

For many, this is as much an economic argument because of sharp rises in electricity bills, as it is an environmental one.

But in general, there is still a long way to go to stop us being so power-hungry.

Great technological advancements, with bigger and better appliances, have seen an increasing pressure put on household electricity demand.

And even though we are finding ways to make appliances more energy efficient, some of these ultra-modern appliances are still a great drain on the plug when left in standby-mode, and many with a built-in clock are designed to be left running rather than switched off completely. Smart phones too, for all the improvements they bring, will more often than not need to be charged up once a day — compared to their predecessors, the bricks of old, which could be left uncharged for days on end without concern.

Although Apple’s iPad, for example, has been designed to be as energy efficient as possible.

Like a sponsored fast to help the starving children of famine-hit Africa, sitting by candlelight or being unable to see a famous landmark for 60 minutes, Earth Hour won’t help change things by itself, but it is meant to get people to focus on the bigger issues at hand.

So, by all means, switch off the lights for an hour — but maybe think about cutting the power elsewhere too at other times.

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