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Birjees Hussain: It goes beyond an hour
March 30, 2018
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Exclusive to The Gulf Today

Last Saturday was Earth Hour. That meant that on that day, just for an hour, we were encouraged, not forced mind you and not asked, but encouraged to turn off all electricity and just for that one hour. I don’t know if you did so or not nor will I tell you if I did so or not but I will say that being able to participate in this one hour largely depends upon on what your state of health is and the time of year it is.

No matter where you live, you either need a central heating system or an air-conditioning system.

I suppose it’s a semi-good thing that Earth Hour fell in late March and no later nor earlier because, depending upon where in the world you are situated, it could be very hot or very cold on either side of the month. The subcontinent, for example, is already experiencing temperatures in the late 30s. Can you imagine what it would be like for them if they had no electricity to turn their air-conditioning on, or at a best, their fans on for an hour? Oh hang, that is indeed the case in some of these countries where the government chooses to do something outrageous as ‘load shedding’.

Imagine further the Gulf region where temperatures can go far beyond the 45 degree range and Earth Hour fell in June or July! If it fell between the months of November to mid-March, it is doable because, during this time, many of us either reduce the use of air-conditioning or have it turned off altogether. But that is because, despite it being winter here during these months, the temperatures in the Middle East are what can only be described as pleasant.

But not so for places like Europe, Russia and America. Many parts of these countries are currently battling heavy snowfall and serious accidents resulting from them. Just a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine in London sent me a video of the heavy snow coverage she could see in her back garden. One morning she simply woke up to a snow fall. As pretty as it was through the warmth of the window, it was not nice to go out in. Now imagine that she decided to participate in Earth Hour that very day, she would have been without any electricity and, therefore, without heating.

If it was in the middle of June or July then participating in Earth Hour would have made very little difference to her since few, if any, homes in the UK have air-conditioning. But in the winter it makes a massive difference. An hour without electricity and, therefore, no heating, can make the difference between life and death for vulnerable people like the sick and elderly.

Take hospitals for example. Some people are on life support or maybe in the middle of life saving surgery. Clearly they can’t participate and not all hospitals in developing countries have generators as a backup if the electricity went out, either by accident or voluntarily for Earth Hour.

I know this all sounds like I am totally against the concept of Earth Hour. But I am not. I know it’s about saving energy and thus saving our planet etc. etc. All this is vital. But let’s be honest here, not everyone can participate. Therefore, just because someone doesn’t participate in a World-wide event, which, by the way, only lasts for one hour, hence the name, what is the point? I know that advocates are trying to make a point here and I get it, but there are far better ways to demonstrate how we can better preserve our planet and most of them are sustainable and are a lifelong commitment.

That being said there are indeed countless other ways that the environment can be saved from further destruction caused by man and those other ways are being used. Examples include recycling or reusing something. So whilst Earth Hour is a great idea, don’t forget it only lasts one hour.

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