You either believe in Earth Hour, or you don't. If you do then you'll turn off your lights for an hour at 8:30 pm this Saturday, the 29th of March as a show of solidarity for your planet (because you believe it makes a difference). If you don't, however, you'll pointedly leave your lights on, because you don't think it really helps.
However, no matter what side you are on, there are things that you want to teach your kids about the planet they inhabit. Although I am still sitting on the fence about turning off my lights, I want my kids to learn from it anyway. I want them to realise that their generation is probably going to see some of the climate changes we're constantly being warned of. In short, I will use this occasion to educate my kids about the earth and some vital facts surrounding it-the most important one being that our planet's resources are not unlimited and that they can make a difference.
Why something needs to be done
The first thing I'll do is teach them what carbon footprint means and how it affects the climate in a simple, basic way. Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment is higher than it's been in the last 6,50,000 years. This is causing the earth's temperature to increase rapidly-our planet has warmed twice as fast in the last 50 years as in the 50 years before that. That, in turn, is causing ice sheets in polar and mountain regions to melt and flow into rivers, lakes and seas. This is leading to a rise in sea levels, causing floods and destruction in cities along water bodies.
We can say that such large-scale problems are beyond an individual's capacity to solve, or we could at least attempt to make a difference-which is what I'm going to teach my kids. The WWF site has an interesting questionnaire that calculates your carbon footprint. I just took it and it told me that if everyone lived the lifestyle I do, we'd need 3.72 planets, and we only have one! It came as a shock, because I consider myself to be relatively green. While the questionnaire is not entirely geared for Indians, take it with your kids anyway. It'll teach them a few things about what they need to correct in their daily lives.
What we can do
It's not enough to switch off extra lights (though that's a great start). We can do more. In our homes there are, as NASA calls them, 'power vampires' like TVs, DVD players, Xbox sets, etc. that suck electricity even when they are switched off-unless they are switched off from the source. So make sure you flick that power switch off once you're done using them. Imagine if all the people in this world did this, we'd be contributing so much more than one Earth Hour in the year!
The important thing is to let your kids know how each action of theirs affects the earth. That's really what they must take away from this Earth Hour. To make this interesting, I plan to make a little action calendar with the kids. In it I'll write the actions we took each month to reduce our carbon footprint, whether it was planting trees or taking the metro instead of the car. It will help them track our efforts. Also, it'll be a fun way to make sure that we create green habits and keep them.
This Earth Hour I want to make a pledge with my kids to leave behind a better planet for the generations to come.