Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:05
Hundreds of skylanterns were released in batches to the skies of Zamboanga City at Paseo del Mar on Saturday (March 31) marking the city’s participation to the world-wide observance of Earth Hour 2012.
Every major city in the world, includingthose in the Philippines, shut down power for an hour from 8:30 to 9:30 in theafternoon on March 31 in the global effort to raise awareness about climatechange.
“Switching off power for an hour may not savethe planet, if the intention was merely to save power,” Jovi, an advocate ofEarth Hour said. He said many are skeptical about this idea, including him, butstill believes that skepticism is still part of the debate and “this createdawareness.”
Jovi brought his family at Paseo del Mar aspart of their Saturdays night outing. He said that Saturday was special becausehis family, especially his 2 children ages seven and fourteen, will get to experienceEarth Hour observance. “I guess this is the first time Zamboanga will use skylanterns as part of the observance.”
“I have little faith on how the organizerswould use the event to spread awareness and really awaken people on the urgencyof doing concrete response to save the planet,” he said, saying that releasinginto the atmosphere another carbon-emitting lantern is somehow strange andconfusing for him.
More so, he said “there goes the garbageproduced out of the event, the plastic packaging of the lanterns, the lanternsthemselves that will eventually go back to earth as trash somewhere.”
For a staunchadvocate of Earth Hour, Jovi said he was a bit confused. “I guess by way of thelanterns, the city government wanted to keep the people and the crowd togetherfor that hour. The lanterns are visually delightful but how they impacted onthe crowd to do something to save the planet is not certain.”
Students and young people were also in the crowd. Most of them were excited to participate especially in lighting the lanterns. In conversations with some students, many of them are sufficiently aware of the observance saying that switching-off power for anhour is a conscious effort to save electricity.
“For me lightingand releasing the sky lantern into the sky is a symbol of hope,” Sandy, astudent of a local school here said. “It is my voice raised to the skies telling those who would see my lantern from a far that I need my home, my earthfor my future.”
For what it’sworth, Jovi believes sky lanterns can still bring the message and stir debate.He said that what is important is for organizers to be challenged with more meaningful and impacting observance of Earth Hour in the coming years.
Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held onthe last Saturday of March annually, encouraging households and businesses toturn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about theneed to take action on climate change. The event, conceived by WWF and TheSydney Morning Herald, first took place in 2007, when 2.2 million residentsof Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights. Following Sydney's lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008.
Since then, Earth Hour hasgrown to become what environmental group WWF organizers say is the world’slargest demonstration of support for action on carbon pollution. WWF noted thatthe main goal of Earth Hour is to create awareness around climate change issuesand "to express that individual action on a mass scale can help change ourplanet for the better" and not about the specific energy reductions madeduring the hour being all that's required. PIA-9 ZBST
by Rene V. Carbayas
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