Sydney will turn off its lights for one hour at 7.30pm on Saturday March 31, 2007. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) this will be: “a major step towards reducing the city’s greenhouse gas pollution”.
The WWF, with the support of The City of Sydney and the NSW Government, have nick-named the event “Earth Hour” and determined that it “will be the highlight of a major campaign to encourage businesses, communities and individuals to take the simple steps needed to cut their emissions by 5 percent in 2007”.
I wonder what is special about 5 percent. Furthermore, one hour in one day of one year is not going to provide a saving of 5 percent.
If WWF was serious about a 5 percent saving then they might propose Sydney turn off all its lights for 18 days this year?
And this word “major” keeps being repeated. But it hasn’t even been suggested that football games be cancelled.
In yesterday’s The Australian it was just suggested they be rescheduled.
Now how is that going to save electricity?
It would be just like me taking a nap from 7.30pm to 8.30pm on March 31st and then stay up until say 11.30pm instead of going to bed at say 10.30pm?
Not that the sporting clubs are prepared to even go along with the idea of rescheduling with an NRL spokesman claiming: “It would be impossible for us to reschedule or fit our fixtures into this scheme”.
On March 31, at least 60,000 fans are expected to watch a rematch of last year’s Sydney Swans-West Coast Eagles AFL grand final at Telstra Stadium under big lights. While at the Aussie Stadium the NSW Waratahs and New Zealand’s Canterbury Crusaders will compete as part of rugby’s Super 14 series and at Parramatta Stadium rugby league fans will be watching the Eels take on the Wests Tigers also under full illumination.
“We are always happy to talk about ways of being more environmentally efficient but the matches must go ahead,” said the NRL spokesman.
So how could our sporting heroes be more “environmentally efficient”?
Perhaps more home games and a ban on interstate and particularly international competitions given travel is considered to be so energy inefficient?
In the media release announcing the Earth Hour, Greg Bourne, CEO of WWF-Australia, was upbeat about the importance of Sydney. He claimed that Sydney is renowned across the globe for its ability to make things happen citing the 2000 Olympic Games.
It got me thinking wouldn’t an Olympic Games be a huge source of greenhouse gases? There is all the air travel to the event from every corner of the globe by officials, athletes and all the spectators. Then there is all the lighting of many venues, heating of swimming pools, air conditioning, fast food, advertising, plastic mascots and the list goes on.
But of course we are not going to cancel the Beijing Olympics because like so much that uses energy the Olympic Games is about community, it’s about culture and its about excellence.
So why is Sydney going to turn off its lights for an hour on 31st March?
Is it also about community, a new culture of austerity and perhaps being better than everyone else?
It is certainly not about making any significant difference to the city’s greenhouse gas emissions this year or into the future.