Saturday, March 19, 2011

Turn Out the Lights [Before] The Party's Over

Canberra, Australia

I can still hear “Dandy” Don Meredith intoning these lines (slightly off key) at the deciding moment of a Monday Night Football game. There might be time left on the clock, but the winner and loser of the game had been decided. On Saturday night, March 26th, when people around the world turn off their lights for an hour, between 8:30 and 9:30 pm, it will be in a symbolic stand against climate change, an expression of hope that it is not too late (that the “party” is not yet over).

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take this stand. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Coliseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.

Will turning off the lights for one hour really make a difference in combating climate change? Only in the sense that we will be reminding ourselves that the sum of our actions is important and CAN make a big difference.

Believing that the SUM of our actions is important, a group of students at National Cheng Cheng University in southern Taiwan with their teacher/ journalist Dan Bloom have produced a short virtual graduation speech video about the need to "tighten the noose around coal and oil" in the coming decades -- or else (“the party’s over”)!

CCU senior Aremac Chuang produced the 4-minute YouTube video titled "A Virtual Graduation Speech to the Class of 2099" and filmed it in the communications department's blue-wall studio, with British National Taiwan University exchange student Deanne Laforet writing a translation in Chinese on a separate blog. The students persuaded their teacher to be the graduation speaker for the “Class of 2099.”

Listen to the student-produced "Class of 2099" speech and see if it adds anything to your knowledge of "what must be done" if humankind is to survive the coming centuries and continue with its magical exploration of the marvels of high-tech and electronic reading devices.

What will life be like on planet earth in 90 years, when the “Class of 2099” graduates at Taiwan National University and at universities throughout the world? It might be something to ponder on March 26 as Earth Hour is observed throughout the world.

Our lights will go off at 8:30 pm next Saturday night as an expression of our hope that the game has not yet been undecided and that we can still make a difference. What about your lights?

- Milo

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