Emory students, faculty and staff turned off their lights for an hour on Saturday night in observance of Earth Hour, a world-wide event encouraging people to conserve electricity and address climate change.
“It’s a wonderful annual event that is a reminder that we are all a part of this global effort everyday,” Director of Sustainability Initiatives Ciannat Howett said. Saturday marked Emory’s third year participating in Earth Hour, which began in Sydney in 2007 and now includes more than 74 countries.
“Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming,” according to the Earth Hour website.
All sustainability representatives, who work in each major building on campus, were asked to tell people in their building to make sure all lights were turned off when they left on Friday.
“The facilities management teams turned off some non-essential lights,” Howett said.
In addition, students turned off lights in dorm rooms from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. The Residence Hall Association (RHA) publicized the event through “green rangers,” the sustainability chairs of each dorm, Howett said.
“I wanted to make sure that students living in residence halls were aware about Earth Hour, since it’s such a unique and global event,” College junior and RHA Executive Sustainability Chair Tamkeenat Syed wrote in an e-mail to the Wheel
Howett said the electricity-saving measures, as well as awareness, incited by Earth Hour are important step in climate change.
“You can see through Earth Hour that this demonstrates ... [that] we are the ones who hold the keys to helping solve the climate crisis and address our levels of carbon emissions,” Howett said.
Some students went beyond just turning off their lights in recognition of Earth Hour.
“I unplugged all my stuff and turned off all my lights. I gave up TV for an entire hour,” College freshman Achal Aggarwal said. “It was so worth it, knowing that my sacrifice was going to benefit the environment.”
Some students recognized Earth Hour was only a minimal contribution.
“Earth Hour is a good idea in theory,” said College freshman Christin Ting, who participated in Earth Hour. “It’s certainly a small step to help, but it’s not really a long-term solution. I think changes need to be made to people’s daily routine to actually make an impact.”
Howett pointed out the importance of having the University as a whole participate in the event.
“The institution as a whole cannot address climate change alone,” Howett said. “It’s going to take each individual.”
Howett said that Emory will continue to take part in Earth Hour, and Syed wrote that she plans for the University to include more people in coming years.
“I hope that we can get more of the Emory Community involved next year, and maybe hold our very own ‘Emory Hour,’ while holding a fun, and sustainable event in the quad during that hour,” Syed wrote.
— Contact Christina White.