Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour 2009: Success or Failure?

2009 is the third year Sydney has participated in Earth Hour, an annual event where people are asked to switch off their lights (just their lights) for 60 minutes. I've made time lapse movies of the event each year from different locations. 2007 I shot the city from my balcony in Watsons Bay. In 2008 I ventured into Fleet Steps near Mrs Macquarie's Chair near the official Earth Hour function site. Both these shoots were west facing and showed the Macquarie street neons plus the neons on Castlereagh and Elizabeth streets.


The 2007 event was very impressive as many building owners and managers communicated with their tenants to turn their lights off for the hour. Now, this shouldn't be too hard a task really because many buildings have centrally controlled BMS (Building Management Systems). Of course some organisations do have late weekend shifts, especially those who deal with US or European HQs or the NYSE.

2008 was also pretty good.

This year I ventured to the other side of the city to shoot looking east, over Darling Harbour (the body of water, not the tourist destination). I found a great (secret) location, set up the gear and started shooting. Sounds boring? Not at all. I was joined by Chris Larson (Larso) and we both proceeded to 'gar up. Me; Monte Christo A - superb! Larso: Hupman Magnum. Must have been good because he went for another.

Coincidentally an Earth Hour volunteer happened by. The Lars and I were thinking that this year the result was no so great. We saw some lights go off here and there. The major neons were off. Not so we were informed by Sara/Sarah. Best year ever we were informed. More companies participating than ever etc etc.

However The Bond, Australia's first 5 Star Green Rated building was lit up like a Christmas tree. Or so we thought. Because when Earth Hour finished they somehow found even more lights on the top floor, north end to burn up. The Bond is a 5 story low rise on the left side of the shots below. It's right above the light of the harbour beacon which thankfully stayed on all night, unlike a certain passenger vessel with 5 drunk idiots on board that ventured into the main channel without any navigation lights on. Fools!

Below are 4 pix of the event. Now you tell me; based on the fact that Earth Hour is a symbolic event to educate the public and enterprise that even something as simple as flicking a light switch off can make a huge difference to global warming, was Earth Hour 2009 a success?

For my money - I don't think so. I think the environment still plays second fiddle to the economy and Earth Hour this year should have tapped that idea ie save money, save the environment, and would have much better buy in.

2009-03-28 at 19-34-11 88641
7.30 PM - 1 hour before the official start

2009-03-28 at 20-25-19 88642
8.25 PM - 5 minutes before the official start (that's a plane, not a UFO)

2009-03-28 at 21-00-01 88643
9.00 PM - The half way mark

2009-03-28 at 21-59-55 88644
10.00 PM - 30 minutes after the official finish

(Technical notes - these images were shot on a Canon 30D using a 10-22mm f/3.5 Canon EF-S lens @ 10mm. Each exposure is 5 secs @ f/8. The ISO was set at 1600. They have all been cropped from the standard 4:3 to 16:9 ratio. Next time, I'd shoot much tighter to retain more image quality at larger sizes)

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