Do it every day, not just during Earth Hour

Teh Jen Lee The New Paper 6 Apr 09

WHAT started out as a bright idea in Sydney, Australia, has gone round the world, causing lights to be turned off across continents between 8.30 and 9.30pm last Saturday. It goes to show that ideas can make a difference.

In Singapore, turning off lights and electrical appliances during Earth Hour saw a 42-megawatt drop in electricity demand. This is equivalent to 40 per cent of the electricity demand in Ang Mo Kio for that hour, said Energy Market Authority (EMA).

However, there was no real decrease in carbon emissions.

Since we only used 1 per cent less electricity as we normally would have in that hour, the generation companies (gencos) burnt just as much fuel as usual, said EMA.

So did Earth Hour help in Singapore's fight against climate change?

The results of our poll showed that the majority of the 50 people polled (74 per cent) said it wouldn't help.

My answer? Yes and no and maybe.

Yes because 1 per cent is better than nothing.

The difference may be small to start with, but isn't it true that the biggest difference is between zero and one?

When Earth Hour was first observed unofficially in Singapore last year, EMA did not observe any significant drop in the system demand.

So between no action at all and some kind of action, no matter how small, I'll take the latter anytime.

Having said that, there is no reason to be smug and think that we have done our part for global warming because the truth of the matter is that gencos did not power down their capacity.

So no, it didn't make a real difference?

I come to the third part of my answer, which is that it was a good beginning, but like all good beginnings, it needs to have a good end.

Can we envision that one day, we all don't switch on lights unnecessarily, no matter what time it is?

Where switching off is not an option, can we envision that we use the best that technology has to offer, supporting with our dollars those products that are eco-friendly?

I've always believed that where there's a will, there's a way.

Now that we've voted against global warming by switching off our lights, let's continue to vote for Planet Earth with our everyday actions.