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Earth Hour: Going dark for the environment

Jagoda S. Pike (publlisher), The Star (Canada)

On Saturday, March 29, people around the world will turn off their lights as a symbolic statement about taking action against climate change. The bigger aim, though, is to build awareness about the long-term changes we can make to lighten our load on the planet.
This week’s Earth Hour challenge

How much does an hour weigh?

Last year, Sydney, Australia, proved that an hour could be 25,000 tonnes. That’s how much carbon dioxide the residents of Sydney kept out of the Earth’s atmosphere by turning off their lights for just 60 minutes, in a country heavily reliant on coal.

Now, the Star is issuing a challenge – to ourselves and to our readers – to commit our city to one hour of darkness.

We are working with the World Wildlife Fund Canada to bring Earth Hour to Toronto and we want you to join us in turning off the lights, saving energy and helping to save the planet.

At 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, what began in Australia goes global. From Manila to Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and Suva, Fiji, communities around the world will unite for one hour to reduce their ecological footprint.

Toronto is the first Canadian city to join the Earth Hour movement and our goal is to get one million Torontonians and thousands of businesses and organizations to participate by turning off their lights and raising awareness of our ecological impact and the simple ways we can reduce it.

Residents and businesses in surrounding communities can also participate in the program. Last year, almost 2.3 million Sydney residents took part, with many other Australians joining in.

Darkening your living room or even our famous skyline for an hour may seem like a merely symbolic act, but our larger goals are intensely practical.

Climate change is the single greatest environmental threat to the planet and the number one concern of Canadians today.

Participating in Earth Hour is a simple way to show that you want to be part of the solution.
(19 January 2008)
Appears in a special section of The Start devoted to environmental issues and which has more articles on Earth Hour. -BA

Seeking Ways to Help the World’s Poorest

Andrew C. Revkin, Dot Earth (New York Times)
Participants are being sought for the second International Development Design Summit, which will be held next summer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The first such workshop, which I wrote about last year, saw 40 students, engineers, farmers, professors and others from 18 countries hunker down in groups to devise simple, affordable ways to clean water, chill produce, generate electricity, and solve other problems facing the world’s poorest communities.

The project is part of a broader movement to shift priorities of inventors and designers away from serving the needs of the world’s top 10 percent and toward those of the several billion people with scant income, scarce food and water, and slim prospects.
(18 January 2008)

CJR Launches The Observatory

Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review
Columbia Journalism Review is proud to announce the launch of The Observatory, a full-time department dedicated to critiquing the press coverage of science and the environment. The Observatory will launch on CJR’s Web site,

In 2007, climate change and, by extension, the nation’s energy future, moved to center stage in our national discourse. The mainstream press coverage of these issues, too, took something of a step forward last year, abandoning much of the false balance that has long characterized the coverage of climate change-that maddeningly reflexive need to give the fringe-dwelling skeptic equal weight against overwhelming scientific consensus. But this is not to say that press coverage of climate change doesn’t still have problems, such as a tendency toward alarmism, or that there isn’t still a crucial need for a smart, intellectually honest critique of that coverage-and coverage of science, environmental, and medical issues broadly. Indeed, climate change is hardly the only crucial scientific issue that the world needs help from the media to understand. From stem-cell research and the AIDS epidemic to a shortage of clean water and food safety, from the quality of epidemiology research to the future of space exploration, the need for credible and thorough journalism will only become more crucial as the new century unfolds.

The science desks at our nation’s newspapers are shrinking or disappearing, just as the number of foreign bureaus and correspondents, investigative teams, and other costly (and thus “expendable”) facets of the journalistic enterprise have been shrinking to bolster profit margins. Meanwhile, a vast array of Web sites and blogs has emerged in recent years to crank out a daily torrent of scientific, environmental, and medical news and information. To a certain extent, these new gateways are making up for the loss of traditional platforms for science news. Grist magazine’s blog, Gristmill; Seed magazine’s community; Scientific American’s 60-Second Science; the Knight Science Journalism Tracker;; and The New York Times’s Dot Earth blog are but a few examples of novel experiments that have seen mounting success in the last few years.
(15 January 2008)
Will the CJR be considering peak oil and resource depletion? -BA