Abby Works, daughter of Iolans Fred and Judy Works, spoke at Thursday’s Iola Rotary Club meeting about “Earth Hour,” an annual hour-long energy saving program in which communities around the world are asked to dim their lights for one hour on the last Saturday of March.
While Works noted that shutting off a single light bulb might not create much impact, collective action can lead to great energy savings.
Across the globe, the movement has grown from one location, Sydney, Australia, shutting off its lights in 2007, to 4,000 cities participating in 2009, including 318 in the United States.
This year, Works hopes to add Iola to that list. In so doing, it would join such luminaries as Las Vegas, Dallas, St. Louis, Rio de Janeiro and London.
Works learned of Earth Hour while visiting Maldon, England, for a semester. The Iola High School junior stayed with her mother’s college roommate, Shirley Murphy, in her home there.
“One of the benefits of living in England is it’s really close to everywhere else in Europe,” Works told the group. “I took full advantage of that” she said, by making frequent visits to neighboring countries.
It was on one such flight that Works read an article in an in-flight magazine about “the power of one,” she said.
“If every child in America saved one aluminum can, 24.8 million cans would be saved,” she said. In the same way, she noted, “every person can make one small change that, if multiplied, can really save energy.”
Iola City Administrator Judy Brigham pointed out the city is doing just that. Following an energy audit, Brigham said she was surprised to learn the two biggest ways Iola could save money on its energy costs were to install programmable thermostats in its building and switch to compact fluorescent lighting. She noted that as lights need it, CFLs are replacing incandescent bulbs.
Fred Works said that his daughter had never been too concerned with environmental awareness until she learned about the rebuilding that occurred after an F5 tornado struck Greensburg, where her great-uncle Bob had lived.
“She was really impressed by the teenagers’ involvement there,” he noted.
Abby concurred. The teens’ interest in their community and the towns’ consequent decision to rebuild using environmentally friendly green technology struck her, she said.
“Regardless of your opinion on global warming, the world’s population is growing,” she noted, “and its resources are not.”
EARTH HOUR was conceived by the World Wildlife Fund as a pain-free way to make a positive global impact on climate change. It is held at 8:30 p.m., local times. In its first year, 2.2 million participants turned off non-essential lights and electronic appliances. Last year, about 1 billion people dimmed their lights, Works said.
“It’s the world’s largest mass-participant event,” she noted.
While in England, Works said, she wondered why Maldon and Iola couldn’t also join.
To that end, Works has been drumming up support locally.
An “unlighting ceremony” is planned on the Iola square, she noted.
“For one hour, we won’t be afraid of the dark,” she said. “We’ll go for a flashlight walk, or enjoy the full moon,” she said.
Additionally, Fred Works noted, “Judy Brigham is looking into turning off lights in town. David Toland, of Thrive Allen County, is handling the presentation on the square. And the schools are going to try to minimize electricity use as much as they can on Friday,” March 26.
“Maybe Iola can be like Greensburg,” Abby Works said, “and become known as the progressive little town that started Earth Hour in this part of the country.”
More information on Earth Hour may be found at myearthhour.org.