The sun is bright and shining in Toronto, and the first of the spring birds are singing. Dusk is still a few hours away, but when the stars are out, the lights will go out too, and the birds will be a little bit safer than usual.
Earth Hour is a call to action on climate change, but the benefits go beyond sending a message. When cities across Canada go dark tonight at 8pm, the world will know that Canadians care, and are ready to take action to reduce our dangerous contribution to greenhouse gas pollution. But the reduced light pollution will also make the migration routes safer for birds trekking home over our urban islands on the boreal. It will also be something special for those of us living in cities- we’ll actually see the night sky filled with stars, rather than orange haze.
I was in Sweden when the August 2003 blackout happened, with three friends from Canada crowded around a television as red graphics covered much of the Eastern seaboard, and the news announcers urgently named our cities. We were all worried that something terrible happened, but when we finally called home we heard only positive tales about our families and neighbors enjoying the dark nights, realizing it is possible to live without power.
Earth Hour is very different: it’s no accident, and it’s no light matter. Over the past several years, consciousness of the climate crisis has risen, and not since the rush to deal with the ozone hole and acid rain has the environment been so prominent in the public mind. So tonight, we seize the moment, and turn out the lights by choice, because we can. And in doing so, we are taking the first step towards solving the climate crisis, again, because we can.
Soon Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto will be filled with people, and the sun will be down for an unforgettable evening. Stay tuned for more, as the posting will continue through the excitement, live from WWF-Canada’s official Earth Hour party at Nathan Phillips Square!