Sunday, March 28, 2010

Earth hour?

It seems we are enjoying the one-hour Earth Hour?

Yesterday, around 7:30 in the evening, I was about to finish my 1000 meters freestyle or roughly ten laps of the 50 meters Olympic size swimming pool at the Cebu City Sports Complex when the Earth Hour participants eagerly awaited to switch off their electricity.

Meant to raise awareness on energy conservation, according to Wikipedia, Earth Hour is a global event organized by WWF, also known as World Wildlife Fund and is held on the last Saturday of March annually, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

Earth Hour was conceived by WWF and The Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.

With the success of the Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world, including the Philippines adopted the event in 2008. Earth Hour 2010 took place on March 27, 2010 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 pm, at the participant's respective local time.

Such activity is incredibly innovative, every year since 2007, participating countries offered an hour of their precious time for mother earth. But then, switching off is not enough. We should be reminded that the electricity that we are using, mostly coming from the destructive effects of coal-fired power plants, major cause of ozone layer depletion.

In Cebu alone, we have three.

While the Philippines have a lot of indigenous, clean and green energy resources, it remains untapped due to pressures and politics from multinational corporations (MNCs). We remain reliant on carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting coal fueled power plants as a source of electricity.

However cheap the electricity generated by this carbon dioxide emitted power plants, it makes our life cheap and the earth hour cheaper if awareness alone on raising energy conservation is the goal. Condemnation for the use of destructive power plants, like coal, and advocating for the use of earth friendly renewable and indigenous energy sources, like hydro, solar, wind, should be in the agenda.

Geothermal and natural gas are heavily taxed by the government while coal-fired power plants like Kepco-SPC (Salcon Power Corporation) coal fired plants in the City of Naga, Cebu are being encourage by the energy department and the province of Cebu.

Unfortunately it reflects our governments policy on the use of renewable and energy sources, despite the abundance of natural gas and geothermal the Philippines remains committed to contribute to the ozone layer depletion.

In Naga alone, where I used to serve as consultant to both the rank-and-file and supervisory employees union, most of them are electrical engineers at the prime of their life, are not comfortable with coal fired power plants, experiencing first hand its destructive effects in the nearby communities and themselves.

In time of massive panic due to the erratic weather disturbance, energy conservation is laudable and necessary. Switching off our electricity usage for an hour coupled with our green and clean energy advocacy should be in placed. And in our everyday life, for example, we should limit our energy usage.

In the meantime, let us enjoy the Earth Hour, while transnational and multi-national companies around the world are signing agreements after agreements with host countries for the energy development using coal-fired power plants just so we can switch off the electricity that we are using – for an hour!

So that by the last Saturday of March 2011, we can switch off our electricity usage again and enjoy the privilege of being ‘in’ even just for an hour.

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