March 31st is Earth Hour, the day when between 8:30 and 9:30 pm people all over the world switch off the lights to make a symbolic gesture representing the need to be frugal with electricity and, we hasten to add, to switch to alternative energy. Symbolic actions are great, but they should lead to real action.
Earth Hour is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund. During the global event, which arrives at its 6th edition this year, the lights will be dimmed on global icons including the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia, Buckingham Palace in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Taiwan’s 101 Financial Center in Taipei and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
One company that is celebrating Earth Hour is communications giant Verizon, which will be switching off the lights on millions of square feet in more than 600 company locations. The company says that during last year’s event it saved 45,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough energy to power approximately 10 homes for a year. Throughout all of 2011, Verizon reduced its energy usage by 2.34 percent – the equivalent of powering 20,600 homes for a year.
Besides celebrating Earth Hour, Verizon is also taking steps to increase its use of alternative energy and become more energy efficient. Earlier this month, it announced a partnership with VIA Motors to develop and demonstrate plug-in electric vehicles using VIA’s proprietary technology and to evaluate the technology for possible wide-scale use in Verizon’s fleet. The company also operates an extensive fleet of alternative energy vehicles including hybrid vans and trucks, and natural gas and electric vehicles.
Last year, Verizon announced a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop new ways to reduce energy use in the communications industry. Verizon and NREL are now working together to identify ways to make Verizon’s networks, data centers and office buildings more energy efficient.
Do you intend to switch off the lights on March 31st?
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.