LIGHTS  OFF!

MANILA, APRIL 11, 2008 (STAR) NOTES FROM THE EDITOR By Singkit - This was one time when darkness was a good thing. All over the world, across time zones, people turned lights off for an hour Saturday before last in support of the fight against global warming.

The Philippines heartily joined the effort this year, with local governments organizing and scheduling their own switch-off activities. The scenic Roxas Boulevard was lit only by vehicles’ headlights as Manila, Pasay and Parañaque cities turned off the streetlights. Meralco reported energy savings of 56 megawatt hours, equivalent to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tons.

Other cities across the country went dark too. Mayor Celso Lobregat of Zamboanga City campaigned the whole week and got Zamboangeños to join the black out. The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) imposed a citywide blackout starting at exactly 8 p.m. The restoration of power was done gradually by feeders, with the northside feeder covering the area where the mayor lives being the last to switch on for a full hour blackout.

The “Environmental Capital of the Philippines” Puerto Princesa, one of my favorite cities, did not disappoint, joining in the effort with a total city-wide black out.

Up north in La Union, Earth Hour was a truly community-wide consultative effort, with the first half hour being a voluntary effort, with households turning off lights and non-essential appliances. The second half of the hour saw a total black out, as the La Union Electric Cooperative cut electricity supply to the city. City and electric cooperative officials reported consumption cut by half in two of its three major power lines.

Many, many other households and establishments throughout the metropolis and the nation (even in Bongao, Tawi Tawi) joined in the worldwide effort – although there were many others, like one place by the Pasig River, who chose to ignore it.

More than the actual numbers in terms of megawatt hours of electricity saved and tons of greenhouse gases reduced, Earth Hour gave ordinary citizens of the world the chance to directly participate in what is often nebulous concepts – global warming and climate change. Hopefully, by participating in this simple exercise, people all over the country and all over the world will understand that efforts to preserve the environment and save the planet can and should begin with you and me, right in our homes.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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