Earth Hour = You Hour

The 4th Annual Earth Hour took place on Saturday March 27th 2010, with 4000 Cities around the world participating. World-famous landmarks including the Pyramids, Big Ben, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and Beijing’s Forbidden City etc went dark Saturday as millions turned out the lights.

What started in 2007 by the WWF and Sydney residents, Earth Hour has now become a global event and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Newspapers and internet were filled with pictures showing such landmarks as the Big Ben in London, both Burj Al-Arab and Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Malaysia’s famous Twin Towers; even the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles & the Google Homepage all turning their lights off for the obligatory 60 minutes. Probably the only time the entire world could be unified for anything, however, that isn’t the topic of discussion today.

My interest in the event was quite keen and I did happen to check out the Wikipedia article for the event. For those curious, be sure to visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Hour for information and pictures of the event. Naturally, being a Karachiite, my interest lead me to press CTRL+F on my browser and see if Karachi was participating. It was listed in the “Supporting Cities” category, while our national capital Islamabad was mentioned in the “Notable Supporting Cities”. The trifecta of Karachi, Lahore & Islamabad was a grand supporter indeed.

In fact, I’ll take this a step further and state that instead of the obligatory 60 minutes, I’m willing to stake my fortune of Batman comics to bet that Karachi (or Pakistan, for that matter) supported the event with more than just 60 minutes. In fact, if reports are right, Karachi contributed over 12 hours of blackouts to Earth Hour that day! Take that, oh ominous Hollywood sign 😛

Hold that thought, that’s not entirely true. Hell no, in fact, Earth Hour(s) in Karachi were not just a commemorative event for the 27th. Of course not, we’re not the greatest city ever for nothing! While all the rest of those 3999 cities could do it for just 1 hour in 1 day, Karachi does it every single of the 365 calendar days of the year! Sure we do it under the guise of something called “load-shedding”, but that’s merely a cover-up for the valuable contribution Karachi (or Pakistan entirely) gives to saving the environment.

That’s right, we’ll help protect the environment at all costs, even if it is pitch black, hot as a microwave (bad example) or if it means that we wont be able to study for that all important exam tomorrow or not finish that accounts report because of no electricity.

It is true that our lives of excess are the root cause of what plagues the environment today. The Earth Hour, the Cope-never-hagen summit, Al Gore’s Futurama appearances, the mass protests and initiatives for protecting the environment today kinda like a repentance scheme we human beings adopt to, well… uh… repent? After all our excess carbon emissions from gas-hungry automobiles and generators, CO2 Emissions for Air-conditioners etc are harming the environment every day, but at least Karachi can repent its sins everyday with the obligatory load shedding.

In fact, that is one of the things that I see are the bright side (dark?) of load shed—sorry, Earth Hours. You get to spend a lot more time with your family instead of being stuck to the tube like flies or do God / cache /FBI knows what on the internet. It’s a time when people get together, have a chat (a real one and not on the phone or SMSs). I guess the more of these blackouts we have had over the past decade or so, the more I’ve started to appreciate them for giving our lives a break every now and then. We’ve all been engrossed in careers, studies, work, etc that we never really do take a break, now do we? No, we floor the gas down to the extreme and just keep moving farther and farther away, leading us to eventually alienate ourselves from the ones we love and care about, & vice versa.

How is all that true? Ask yourself: when was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your mom? Or when was the last time you took your family out to a day at the beach? Sure, you may hang out with friend every now and then, but what about your families, your loved ones, your comfort zones if you will.

Obviously this Earth Hour event brought so many people closer to each other. I mean, all the time that the lights were off, people had to do SOMETHING with their time, didn’t they? So why cant this happen every now and then? We don’t need Earth Hours more than we need a You Hour. Its an hour that you use to reach out the anyone you want. Reach out to people that could certainly use your attention. Or something. Yeah that’s right, finish that book you’ve been trying to for the last 6 weeks. Do something ordinary every now and then… like wash your own dishes, boil your own water tank supply, take out the trash, buy the house groceries without even asking, water a plant (or plant one) etc.

And do it all with the AC off.

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