Tonight millions of people worldwide are shutting off their lights for one hour—a gesture to inspire contemplation of our addiction to electricity, of the polluting energies used to fuel electricity, and of our impact on Earth’s land, air, and waters.
These are possible interpretations for Earth Hour. I would love to hear yours.
As the heat soared and air conditioners chugged, I gained a whole new appreciation for drying racks. Never mind that the plastic joints snapped exhibiting their shoddy quality, they line up and support each other with the help of some garden wire. In summer heat towels are bone dry in a matter of hours. No need for a dryer—gotta like that.
This poem is a ‘true story’. I did see a video that showed a finger turning a light switch off over and over–very lame I thought at the time, but surprisingly the image haunted me. It became my ‘turn off the light’ mental prompt. I couldn’t find that video, so here is a substitute:
The monotetra poem is this week’s Jane Dougherty Poetry Challenge form. For a rundown on the form and to see what other writers did with it, please follow the link.
Here is my contribution to this Haiku Challenge: two poems with identical opening lines, but different messages, inspired by prompts: ‘Rise and Save’. For those who wish to join in or read other entries, I have provided a link at the end of this post.
Sages rise with sun
Upon sleeping through moon time
They save wisdom’s gems.
Sages rise with sun, upon sleeping through moon time. Upon sleeping through moon time, they save wisdom’s gems.
Sages rise with sun
After sleeping in darkness
They save light for day.
Sages rise with sun after sleeping in darkness. After sleeping in darkness, they save light for day.
Many writers submit poems to RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge— a wide variety of thoughts and emotions are expressed. To give it a try or to have a good read, visit the prompt post. Links to other haikus using the prompts are in the comments.
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Earth Hour is about joining in with a global event and about making one or more pledges to conserve energy and natural resources. One of my Earth Hour pledges is to use energy-efficient light bulbs in my home.
Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are currently the best way to go. Why?
CFLs use only ¼ of the energy used by incandescent bulbs–that means 75% less electricity per unit of light (lumen) and potentially 75% less carbon emissions.
CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
British Columbia restricts incandescent sales. Did you know that there has been a ban on the sale of 75 watt and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs in B.C., since January of this year? And in January 2012, federal regulations will also place restrictions on incandescent sales.
What about mercury in CFLs? There is mercury in CFLs, but the amount is very very small—apparently, less than the amount found in a watch battery or dental filling. Mercury is present in the environment generally, and unfortunately, also in tuna fish. When we burn coal for power, mercury and other toxins are released. It has been argued that using CFLs reduces emissions from “dirty” energy sources, by reducing energy consumption (see “Keep Light Bulb Hazards in Perspective”, by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola, June 2007).
What if a CFL light bulb breaks? Because there is a small amount of mercury in CFLs, it’s important to dispose of them at a special facility (see above). If a CFL should break, some caution is required, to prevent harm to people and pets:
Are there other energy-efficient options besides CFLs? Yes there are. There are two other leaders in energy efficiency—the key number to know is lumens (light) per watt, also called the “LPW”. HID bulbs provide 120 lumens per watt, CFLs offer 60 LPW, and LEDs offer 45 LPW. CFLs are still in the lead due to lower price, excellent LPW, and a large range of applications. (For more details, take a look at a bulb comparison chart.)
Another guideline for purchasing bulbs is to only purchase those that are EnergyStar certified, to ensure top quality. And don’t forget to take advantage of the coupons offered by the Ontario Power Authority. You may have received some in the mail—it is also possible to print them from the following website: saveonenergy.ca. They’re effective up until the end of 2011 and include discounts for other energy-saving items, such as timer power bars, water heater insulation blankets, and programmable thermostats for electric baseboard heaters.
“The federal government still doesn’t have a credible climate change plan for reducing carbon emissions from all sources. Although the Budget maintains some funding for clean air and climate change initiatives, investment in these programs is dwarfed by the $1.4 billion of special tax breaks to the oil and gas industry”.–- Ian Bruce, Team Lead, Climate Change & Clean Energy Program, David Suzuki Foundation.
This quote sums up the expert critique of the Federal Budget tabled this afternoon. We don’t know yet whether the Budget will stand—if the government falls, so will the Budget. While waiting for more expert input and political developments, I’ll compare what is on the table with what was recommended by the Green Budget Coalition.
What’s the Green Budget Coalition? It’s a coalition of 21 leading environmental and conservation organizations, representing over 600,000 Canadians. It submitted a 52-page report outlining budget recommendations. Their cornerstone recommendations were:
A National Conservation Plan,
Promotion of energy efficiency through incentives and capital investment,
Fresh water protection,
Energy subsidy reforms—redirecting subsidies from oil, gas and nuclear programs to initiatives that will combat climate change.
National Conservation Plan?—Though no conservation plan was announced, one conservation initiative was presented. A new National Park will be established in the East Coast Boreal Natural Region in Labrador—to be called the “Mealy Mountains National Park”. This area is the home of a threatened caribou herd. $ 5.5 million is budgeted to be spent over 5 years
Promotion of Energy Efficiency? —$86 million will be spent on regulations promoting clean energy, with a focus on energy efficiency.
$400 million will be spent on the EcoENERGY Retrofit-Homes Program which will be extended to 2011-12. Under this program, in place since 2007, homeowners have received grants of up to $5000 for renovations that increased home energy efficiency. The details of the program extension have not been announced.
Fresh Water Protection? —$5 million over two years will be available to improve ecosystem health and address phosphorous in the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Action Plan.
Energy Subsidy Reforms? —At a conference with other G20 leaders in 2009, Prime Minister Harper agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies—to date subsidies have not been taken away and there was no mention of cutbacks in the Budget.
The oil and gas sector receives almost $1.5 billion in subsidies and tax breaks from the federal government. Considering that the government has resolved to reduce green house gas emissions, subsidizing fossil fuel industries doesn’t make sense.
$405 million will be given to Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) to cover commercial losses and support operations. Rationales are “to ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintain safe and reliable operations at Chalk River Laboratories”. It doesn’t seem that the government is slowing down its investment in nuclear energy. A Wikipedia article on AECL states that in 2009 the federal government invested about $650 million in the crown agency, and in June of that year Prime Minister Harper is quoted as saying that the federal government will eventually be out of the business of medical isotope production. When?
Renewal of Existing Programs? —The Budget renews the Clean Air Agenda, scheduled to expire this month. It will be extended for two years and injected with almost $870 million, including:
-the energy efficiency measures noted above ($86 million for regulatory actions and $400 million for home energy retrofit program)
-$252 million over two years for regulatory measures addressing air quality and climate change
-$48 million over two years to develop regulations for the transportation sector and clean transportation initiatives
-$58 million over two years to support programs for adapting to climate change
-$25 million over two years for Canada’s participation in international dialogue on climate change, including the Canada-United States Clean Energy dialogue.
The Chemical Management Plan will be extended with an input of $200 million over the next two years. This program was started four years ago to evaluate and manage 23,000 chemicals.
The Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan will be given $68 million over the next two years to continue with the project of cleaning up sites that have been polluted due to past government actions.
Concluding Thoughts—There appear to be many details missing—investment in clean energy initiatives are not apparent. If you too are feeling a bit overwhelmed, perhaps relax by listening to David Suzuki’s Playlist for the Planet.