Earth Hour

2009-03-28 00:00

Earth Hour 2009 is scheduled for today. To mark the occasion people around the world have been asked to switch off their lights for one hour — in South Africa’s case between 8.30 pm and 9.30 pm — in solidarity against global warming and environmental degradation.

There is some disagreement among scientists as to the extent of the impact of human activity on global warming. There is, however, general consensus that human societies are consuming resources at an unsustainable rate and that unless we start taking serious measures now, the Earth, which future generations inherits from us, will be the stuff of science-fiction apocalypse.

Ironically, although the Eskom blackouts of 2008 caused frustration and anger among users, and exacted a high toll on the economy and the country’s credibility, it also served to raise awareness of the extremely fragile nature of our reliance on fossil fuels to produce electricity. As a result, improved efficiency at the power utility and a much greater awareness of the need to save through becoming more energy efficient has succeeded in keeping the lights burning this year.

It is understandable in a country confronted with the major problems of unemployment and poverty that environmental concerns are given a lower priority. However, we need to work together to instil in all our people a consciousness of the importance of recycling, of cutting down on our energy consumption, of looking after both the built and natural environment, and, perhaps most importantly, of conserving our precious and endangered supplies of fresh water.

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