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March 25, 2009
By Skyler Dillon
The City of Reno is encouraging citizens to shut off their lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m., March 28, in observance of Earth Hour.
At the urging of Jason Geddes, vice chair of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents and energy coordinator for the City of Reno, and Jessica Henning, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate assistant with Environmental Health and Safety, The Reno City Council issued a proclamation supporting Earth Hour. Earth Hour is an international event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund aimed at encouraging world leaders to take action against global warming.
People around the world are asked to “vote” for the earth and against global warming by turning off all nonessential lighting during Earth Hour, 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., March 28. Supporters can go to earthhour.org to show their support. The results will be tallied and presented to world leaders discussing caps on greenhouse gas emissions at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.
“Earth Hour is about voicing our support for climate change mitigation worldwide,” Henning said. “It is important that we act now, not later, on this topic.”
In her letter to the Reno City Council requesting their support of the event, Henning wrote, “A commitment to Earth Hour would enable all of us to not only express our concern about our planet, but to stand in solidarity with our fellow citizens throughout the world.”
During last year’s Earth Hour, 50 million people worldwide shut off their lights. This year, organizers are shooting for one billion. The success of last year’s event encouraged Henning to get the City of Reno and the University of Nevada, Reno involved this year.
“It’s important for institutions of higher education to set an example and get involved,” she explained.
The University will be shutting down the lights at the Knowledge Center and Joe Crowley Student Union during this year’s Earth Hour, and the Residence Hall Association is also encouraging its members to observe the hour.
In addition, the University’s Fleishmann Planetarium and Science Center is hosting a free community event at River School, 7777 White Fir St. in Reno. At 7 p.m., a dark-skies film will be shown. During Earth Hour, attendees can enjoy stargazing through telescopes, with University experts on hand to guide them. A celebration and bonfire will follow at 9:30 p.m. Refreshments will be available for a donation to River School.
Lights will also be shut down at some other buildings and landmarks in Reno, including at the Reno Arch. Harrah’s, the El Dorado, and the Silver Legacy have all committed to reducing their light use. The Las Vegas Strip also plans on participating. Although Earth Hour is largely symbolic, organizers are hoping to inspire people to cut back on their energy use throughout the year.
“We want to remind people that something as simple as shutting off their lights for an hour can make a huge difference,” said Henning. “It’s easy for everyone to be ‘green.’”