While Toronto goes nuts for earth hour, lights go out down under and people and companies around the globe take an hour to remember the earth before electricity, the news in Berlin is: Shopping! Germany well deserves its reputation for significant activism in environmental matters. But the freedom of shopkeepers to sell their wares when customers want to buy them is the political action on the street in Berlin tonight. In a special periodic "Long Night of Shopping", major department stores in the main shopping district in Berlin provide a consumer distraction from thoughts of Earth Hour.
Before you discontinue thinking up great ideas for earth hour to get mad, you should know that Germany held its "Lights Out" (Licht Aus) campaign in December of 2007. In fact, the take-home message from "Lights Out" is one that everyone celebrating Earth Hour should remember.Days before Germany's "Lights Out" target time, the media was in uproar: Power plants cannot react to a total loss of demand on the grid. If 10 million people joined "Lights Out", experts warned -- the whole net could black out! Automatic switches would shut down power plants, which would require many hours to come back on line.
A counter-movement arose: "Licht An, Aber Richtig!" (german site), roughly translated as "Lights On, But Right" in English. The movement encourages the much safer, if somewhat less dramatic, eco-event of replacing old light bulbs with eco-efficient lamps, as well as switching to a green energy provider, and getting politcally active.
If Earth Hour continues to catch on and spread, should we all worry about the power nets? Before "Lights Out", the media asked: Is it possible ten million Germans could be motivated to such action? Well, in France, in a similar event, 7 million participants were attributed with causing the crash of at least one power plant. And, well, Germans are known for their enthusiasm as eco-activists.
As it happened in December 2007, the Brandenburger Gate and many other famous sites joined the German population in going dark. "Lights Out" was a five-minute action. Power companies reported the next day that instability was observed but shut-downs were prevented by appropriate actions.
Now the campaign, "Lights On, but Right" continues. So after you finish enjoying the stars free of the usual light pollution, remember the earth for another hour: buy energy-saving light bulbs and turn the inefficient lights out for good in your home. Happy Earth Hour.
Image via ::tagesschau