April 15, 2010
Earth Hour: A Time to Marvel at the Wonder of Modern Energy?
March 27th marked "Earth Hour 2010," the now annual event that has cities and buildings across the globe switched off the lights for an hour to ... apparently draw attention to the need for conservation.
As I looked at the incredible collection of images from around the globe here, however, I was struck by a somewhat opposite impression: they struck me with a wonder for how awe-inspiring modern energy sources (particularly electricity) are, how ubiquitous they are in our daily lives, and how widespread such energy consumption has become across the world, as we become an increasingly urban and 'grid-connected' global population.
(Malaysia's Petronas Twin Towers 'before' and 'after' Earth Hour 2010, March 27th. Image source: AP Photo/Lai Seng Sing)
From Abu Dhabi to Shanghai and Sydney to Beijing, the images also filled with me a sense of awe at the human ingenuity that goes into the many incredible architectural structures featured in these images. Just think how many of the nations in these images had nary a skyscraper just half a century ago, yet are now modern skylines that make 'old' American cities look antiquated and bland.
Perhaps, by switching off the lights for an hour and looking at what our world would look like without the constant buzz of electrons that powers our daily lives, Earth Hour and similar efforts can re-instill an appropriate sense of appreciation and wonder for the incredible gift that is modern energy (and particularly electricity). But I doubt this leads to any widespread conservation mindset. If anything, after perusing these striking images, I wish my old Oakland looked more like the glittering Hong Kong or Singapore I see in these images, or even the shiny San Francisco skyline across the Bay...
What are your impressions of Earth Hour? What thoughts and feelings are inspired by the before and after images here? A selected set of 'before' images are presented below...
(Hong Kong and Kowloon Image source: Ringo Ma via WWF)
(The National Stadium, aka the Bird's Nest, Beijing, China Image source: Reuters, Grace Liang)
(Singapore Image source: Reuters, Nicky Loh)
(Mohammed Ali Mosque, Cairo, EgyptImage source: AFP Photo, Khaled Desouki)
(Yas Marina Hotel, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab EmiratesImage source: AFP Photo, Khaled Desouki)