Mayor Hindman endorses Earth Hour

Monday, March 17, 2008 | 7:26 p.m. CDT; updated 12:22 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

COLUMBIA — An environmental awareness project that began last year in Sydney, Australia, has gone global, spreading to cities worldwide, including Columbia.

Last March, Sydney’s participation in an event called Earth Hour saved 25,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere. All it took was for 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses to turn off their lights and appliances for one hour, according to a news release from the Columbia Climate Change Coalition.

Now, the Columbia Climate Change Coalition is inviting Columbia residents to do the same by sponsoring Columbia’s own Earth Hour, which Mayor Darwin Hindman proclaimed Monday at a press conference. Columbia’s hour will begin at 8 p.m. March 29 in observance of the worldwide Earth Hour Day.

Hindman said the effort is basically symbolic, and that its main goal is to get people thinking.

“You don’t have to make a dramatic lifestyle change, but you can make some small lifestyle changes,” he said at the press conference.

Monta Welch, director of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, cites last year’s event in Sydney as an example of what can be achieved when people work together toward the common cause of reducing harmful emissions.

“Yes, it is largely symbolic, but it has other important effects, tangible ones as well as educating people,” Welch said.

As of now, it is unclear exactly how the environmental results of Columbia’s Earth Hour will be tabulated, but Welch said she hopes they will be available in some way.

“A lot of the participating cities are planning to do the information gathering, and I hope ours will too,” she said.

Welch also said the Boone Electric Cooperative has offered to help gather information on the effect of Columbia’s Earth Hour.

She said Earth Hour is important to raising awareness and to connecting people with others who are trying to make a difference.

“Sometimes when we are trying as individuals to do something, we get discouraged,” she said, adding that Earth Hour is a good way to help strengthen that resolve. “Everyone in every part of the city is welcome as we try to take action in solidarity.”

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