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Earth Hour 2011

It is significant that in the space of four (4) years Earth Hour has spread from Australia and is now celebrated in 128 countries. A change is taking place in the lifestyle of many people worldwide. The fact that people are depriving themselves of non-essential electricity for an hour a year is evidence of this change. Some see this Hour as a chance to save money. Others see it as a chance to cut back on the amount of greenhouse gases they release into the atmosphere as a means of ensuring a healthier life for themselves and their children. Still others see this as an opportunity to ‘care for the planet’ and contribute to the wellbeing of all life forms on the planet.

Earth Hour is one of the biggest climate awareness campaigns ever. It provides communities the opportunities to voice their concern for Earth, our only home, and to create a better future for our planet. It also provides us the opportunity of reflecting on the inherent value of the natural world as well as our interconnectedness and interdependence with other creatures.

The Government of Barbados has become aware of the need to change. The burning of fossil fuel (oil) provides us with energy for electricity and transportation. But oil is expensive (Brent crude is $115/barrel on March 2, 2011) and limited and it also contributes to global warming with its devastating effects. Hence Government recently announced its new renewable energy and energy efficient policy. Part of this policy is to “develop a phase-out plan for incandescent lamps as well as to distribute over 15, 000 compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)”.

In this specific aspect of their new policy Government needs to proceed with caution. CFLs are energy saving but they contain mercury and must be carefully handled. It is Government’s responsibility to educate the public on the careful handling of these lamps should they break; on the disposal of used lamps so that they do not end up in the landfill; and to see to the proper recycling of these used lamps. At all costs mercury must not be allowed to find its way into our water supply. Moreover, should it be that these lamps pose a health risk for certain persons, they should have the freedom to obtain incandescent lamps or any other health friendly lamp.

There have been allegations that low quality lamps have caused fire. Manufacturers of these lamps have denied the allegations. Hence, as a precaution, and for the sake of the community, importers of CFLs ought to ensure that the best quality lamps are brought in and low quality lamps are excluded. Until a local company begins the proper recycling of used lamps, is it too much to ask importers to arrange for the collection of used lamps for export to an overseas facility for the recycling of these lamps?

Retailers also have their role to play. They have a responsibility to their customers to alert them on the proper handling of these lamps. They could encourage their customers to return used lamps. They could then send these used lamps to a central location for recycling.

Earth Hour 2011 will be celebrated on Saturday, March 26 starting at 8:30 pm. The theme this year is “Go beyond the Hour”. Though residents are included, the role of the business community is urgent. Our businesses have the power to make a difference. Turning off electricity and unplugging non-essential electronic equipment for the hour is a start. However, more must be done by the business community to contribute to the greening of Barbados. Why not engage the practice of switching off all lights in the office at the end of the working day? Adjust the temperature of your air conditioners so they are not working so hard? Ever considered how much power is used by leaving office machines on at night or on weekends? Wasting of electricity is not only an environmental cost, but certainly wasted economic costs for the business. How can your business ‘Go beyond the Hour”?

A new world view is needed. Planet Earth is not just raw material for humans to pursue extravagance. Earth is not just a stage on which humans play their games. Earth is a living organism, with its own value and worth and with its own laws and characteristics. Mother Earth keeps all her species together and provides sustenance for them all. Humans are one such species, inextricably tied to other species. Each species has a role to play in the building up of the whole. There is a fine balance among species. If humans step out of line and seek our own aggrandizement at the expense of other species, humans and the entire planet will suffer as a result of imbalance and disharmony. It is our species’ role to seek the flowering of other species and of the planet as a whole and in this way achieve our own flowering.

We often take Earth for granted. Not so many of the astronauts. James Irwin had this to say: “Earth reminded us of a Christmas tree ornament hanging in the blackness of space. As we got farther and farther away it diminished in size. Finally, it shrank to the size of a marble, the most beautiful marble you can imagine. That beautiful, warm, living object looked so fragile, so delicate…Seeing this has to change a person, has to make a person appreciate the creation of God and the love of God”.

Written by Anthony H. Dickson

Category/ies:Barbados Articles.
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