The lights went out around the world for an hour on 23 March. Iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building and the Kremlin were plunged into darkness in a symbolic gesture of people’s concern about the contribution our use of fossil fuels makes to global climate change. In South Africa, too, there was huge support and,
over the hour that lights went out, a massive 629MW of electricity was saved. This is more than enough power to light the whole Overstrand and beyond.
In Hermanus the lights went out right on cue. Whale Coast Conservation (WCC), in conjunction with the Overstrand Municipality, presented a celebration of International Earth Hour with a programme of education, dance, song and drama. The theme this year was “switch off” (the annual reminder to conserve electricity), combined with advice to “switch over” from conventional incandescent light bulbs to light emitting diode (LED) lights which use only 10% of the electricity required by incandescent bulbs.
Hundreds of residents, visitors and tourists gathered at the Whale House near the Old Harbour in Hermanus, which, together with a large model of a whale, was illuminated by LED floodlights drawing current from solar-powered batteries.
The Executive Mayor of the Overstrand, Nicolette Botha-Guthrie, spoke of the need for local authorities to scrutinise all their operations to see how savings in the use of electricity can be achieved, especially by the use of new technologies. Dr Anina Lee, Communications Manager of WCC, stressed that each individual has it in her or his power to make choices in their consumption of the earth’s resources that will contribute to the sustainability of the environment.
Entertainment was provided by local artists, mainly young people. Their messages of a sustainable earth were eloquent and touching.