Monday, March 30, 2009

Seeing the light beyond Earth Hour

SO, did you switch off the lights in your house during Earth Hour on Saturday? Mine was off since that morning and was not switched on again until 9.15pm when I got home.

It was a spectacular sight not seeing the lights on major landmarks. At 8.30pm, the KL Tower's lights went off, leaving only a ring of yellow on the circumference of the dome, which made it look like a flying saucer against the night sky. Then, the Petronas Twin Towers went dark from ground up, leaving only the red blinking navigational markers. Other buildings in the area were already not visible, save for their silhouettes.

Some drivers at Lake Titiwangsa stopped their cars along the roads and looked in the direction of the city, trying to identify the buildings from their silhouettes.

Restaurants and stalls also joined in the global effort to cool down Mother Earth.

However, some bikers and motorists switched off their vehicle lights while they were on the road. One chap got flagged down by a policeman for his misplaced enthusiasm.

When I reached home, I was pleasantly surprised that the management of my condominium had already switched off the lights in the common areas. There were no complaints from residents as corridors were plunged into darkness, except for the emergency lights and the lifts.

Usually power shortages would be greeted by collective sighs of exasperation. However, on Saturday night, there were no voices condemning the management committee or Tenaga Nasional. Some families even stayed home that Saturday evening, ate in, and dutifully switched off their lights at the prescribed time.

Curious whether other condominium dwellers were as enthusiastic about Earth Hour, I ran up to the upper floors and looked around. Sparsely-lit houses and condominiums in the vicinity made my heart swell with pride.

It was amazing to see just how many people had switched off their lights. Deep down, I hoped it was not one of those fashionable things people do because others are doing it. I prayed that people who undertook this noble observation would take it beyond the 60 minutes.

Of course, it is not practical to switch off city lights nightly and this would go against the almost-forgotten tagline of Kuala Lumpur as the Garden City of Lights. But think about what it can do for our environment, even for an hour.

Hopefully, in the 60-minute lights-out global effort, we have seen the light and realise the importance of conserving energy use. Maybe it will inspire us to seek other ways to take our conservation efforts beyond the Earth Hour initiative.

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