Thursday, March 27, 2008

What a difference an hour makes....

It's easy to take things for granted, especially electricity. The goal of Earth Hour 2008 is to remind us not to take it for granted, to do I dare say be conscious about electricity by turning off one's lights for an hour at 8 PM on March 29. Now one can argue that the gesture is largely symbolic and doesn't make much of a difference if you think that's the end of it. However an hour is just a start and I'll share why.

For all the talk of education, and knowledge through schooling and blogs. Somethings are best learned through experience, some of the experience is man made like Earth Hour and the Oxfam Fast For Day to understand world hunger. I've done the latter, and to be honest it's not clear that I will be able to participate in Earth Hour this year. But it definitely opened my eyes, but in both cases you know there's a safety net.

So what happens when there isn't a safety net? When I first moved to California, we experienced the canary in the coal mine with rolling blackouts that were happening. History shows that it wasn't shortage by manipulation by Enron and other traders. That was a taste. A few years previous, I was in a large earthquake that took out the power for a few days in a major city. All it took was a moment. It was amazing to see how people adapted, people hung out on the streets, played basketball, listened to the radio in cars. More reminders when I traveled in Western China and the only lights were a single light bulb straight out of Edison's Menlo Park lab. Too dim to read by. The point with all these stories, is that sometimes when you are reminded out of the blue that power is not something we can take for granted. Nor what it takes to make them.

So whether you take part in Earth Day 2008, look around you and think what do you take for granted, and wonder if it makes sense to use it a little more wisely. And while you think about electricity, it might not be a bad time to start thinking about water.


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