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Catholic Schools Eco News: Earth Hour 2009

Catholic Schools Eco News: Earth Hour 2009 :

Earth Hour will take place between 28 and 29 March 2009.

Dear All,

No doubt many of you – and your schools - are already well aware of Earth Hour. Since it was launched in Sydney three years ago, (with thousands of people around the city switching off their lights at the same time) the idea seems to have gone viral. But we thought, in the week before this year’s Earth Hour (on Saturday 8.30pm) you might be interested in some of the initiatives by churches and other places of worship around the world, to give a Christian dimension to ideas about how your school might like to mark the moment.


- hold a service by candlelight on the weekend of March 28th-29th or in the week running up to it. Recommend that those who can walk to the service do so.

- give out candles, where safe and appropriate, incorporating a formal blessing for their use in their homes the following weekend.

- incorporate a teaching about your faith's tradition wisdom about being careful and not wasting resources, into any services or gathering.

- include a special prayer about the environment in both your worship and in any leaflets or newsletters you produce this month. Follow the Church of Sweden's example and ring bells, if you can, or broadcast prayers, to mark the beginning of Earth Hour at 8.30 local time on 28th March.

- make sure all non-essential lighting is switched off, that (although it is glorious at other times) that for that night any decorative lighting is symbolically turned off... and that all electric appliances in the offices are switched off and not left on standby.

- understand that there is a political message in this campaign, but also that, perhaps even more powerfully, there is a message to ourselves that we should be more careful, waste less, and enjoy simplicity.

- enjoy the candlelight.


Like most places of worship, schools too are mostly closed for the official Earth Hour of 8.30 pm on a Saturday night. But there are still some nice ideas of how schools can participate.

- Switch off your non-essential school, college and household lights for an hour – perhaps on Friday.

- Set weekend homework involving pupils’ participation in Earth Hour (for an hour, after dark, on Friday, Saturday or Sunday) when they could perhaps have a dinner lit by candles, or turn off the TV and computer for an hour, and write about what that feels like.

- include a lesson or discussion about the many activities happening across the country (and world).

- Can you switch off the lights for a lesson, and explore what you can’t do and what you can do better? Include a meditation about the gift of energy.

- Can you ask the pupils to go home and count the number of appliances they have on standby, and see how many of them can be switched off easily (like radios or TVs), and how many of them aren’t made to be switched off easily (like ovens with timers).

One of our trustees, at WWF-International in Switzerland, was recently put in charge of Earth Hour, and he sent us an email with the following quotes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu - which might make an interesting theme for a lesson or assembly:

“This coming Saturday, hundreds of millions of people around the world will join together in what's being described as a vote for the planet. From New York to Beijing, from Cape Town to Paris, citizens will turn their lights off for sixty minutes to demand action on climate change. Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for us all to send a message to the world's leaders that 2009 is the year for a global deal to tackle global warming.

We are used to seeing climate change discussed in both environmental and economic terms. The impacts on the planet are all too obvious – melting polar ice caps, drought and rising sea levels have become the depressing staple of our daily news for several years. More recently, given the global recession, talk has turned to the economics of climate change, the costs of keeping it manageable and the costs if we don't. The trillions of dollars in stimulus packages now being put in place across the world are increasingly seen as a chance to invest in sustainable green technologies and production which will not only help build a low-carbon future but which will kick-start growth and safeguard jobs.

But there is another dimension to the climate change debate which does not tend to get as much attention as the environmental and economic impacts – and that is the moral imperative which we all share to prevent a massive humanitarian crisis. Global warming is not just an ecological and financial dilemma – it is an ethical one which opens up unsettling questions concerning justice, fairness, responsibilities and obligations.”

Please find a link to ARC’s news story about WWF’s Earth Hour here and link here for more details of Earth Hour.

And please do contact us to let us know what you did – we hope to feature any efforts, ideas, photos and stories in the next newsletter.

With very best wishes,


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