Earth Hour 2012
Singapore, week-end edition 31st March 2012
Earth Hour has really caught on and like last year I happened to be in Singapore to experience the event. Celebrated on the last Saturday in March, more than 150 countries are now participating worldwide, a remarkable achievement for an event that started only 5 years ago in Sydney. I heard that Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, currently circling the earth in the International Space Station had the task to specifically observe the Earth during the Hour. It will be interesting to see if it has any real visual impact seen from space!
Earth Hours’ massive appeal is really interesting and brings up various thoughts, certainly in my mind as a lighting designer. We design lighting for a living so switching off lights as a trend has to make us think about what we are doing. It reinforces even more the importance for us designers to look further and more deeply into the sustainability of our designs and maybe review certain lighting standards and codes that specify amounts of lighting levels. Life nowadays does not stop after sunset, on the contrary, in tropical countries that’s when we come out courtesy of cooler temperatures. The fast pace of life and ever increasing consumption power creates higher and higher demands, some 24/7. People expect higher and higher levels of comforts, which comes with higher and higher demands for lighting. Yet when suddenly we switch of the lights for an hour, as I watched around Marina Bay last night, people cosy up together in nearly “campfire” ambience, to watch the skyline and enjoy this bit of peacefulness together.
I note that this is set against the back drop of the ever faster growing LED technology and market application and the rising cost of energy. Singapore’s energy company just announce a further rise in electricity prices, bringing it now close to 29 cents per kilowatt, about 22 US cents. Twenty years ago it was about half that and it will keep on rising. Meanwhile Sydney announced earlier in the week plans to replace the majority of its street lights with LED lighting. These initiatives must come heavily sponsored by the government and more specifically the lighting industry in a bid to promote and accelerate the market implementation of LED lighting as from my calculations compatible performance LED technology is still very expensive with long ROI’s. While I fully support all sustainable efforts I feel at times that there is a false sense of urgency and market push, possibly created by a feeling of guilt and wanting to be seen as being socially responsible…?
Light Watch 3-45: Earth Hour 2012 images from around the world.
Here is also this years official Earth Hour YouTube link: http://youtu.be/FovYv8vf5_E