Archive for March, 2011

Struggles with Earth Hour

by Dr. Sarah Warren

My primary eco concern  is the impact of our addiction to fossil fuels on the health and well-being of our children– because I love my children fiercely. That driving concern, in fact,  led me to use my psychological expertise to serve as a catalyst in protecting the planet for future generations. And has led me to try to live my eco values with my two young dudes. Try is the operative word.

So of course Earth Hour (, organized by the World Wildlife Fund (,  appeals to my interest in raising awareness of our dependence on polluting energy that harms our children– now and in the future.

Last year during Earth Hour, we made it without the lights on for oh… about 20 minutes. The dudes found it intriguing and even exciting to use flashlights, but ultimately my then 7 year-old, aka The HamSter, found it too scary.  The lights went back on.

This year on March 26th, my dudes– now 8 and 6 years old– went down to my mom’s house for the evening.  We made it for … an  interesting 30  minutes.  So we joined millions of people in over a 130 countries for half the time…

We set out our flashlights.  My mom’s idea had been that we would only use the flashlights in an emergency. That was not an option.

The 6 year-old DudeSter asked me to snuggle. We turned off the lights and the dudes piled with me onto my mom’s bed. The dudes turned on a flashlight, made shadows with their hands, and then we each told a spooky story.

One of my observations: Having the lights out afforded the opportunity to bond in a way that we do when we take our annual extended family vacation on an island in Maine that does not have electricity. We slow down. We hang out with each other. We go to sleep earlier and rise with the sun.

Another observation: There’s a lot ambient light that comes into our homes from street lights and neighbors. Quite notable.

A final observation: Even the children of a committed eco parent, who fundamentally get the eco connections, get restless and nervous in the dark. And even committed eco moms cave in to the request to turn on the TV (which we don’t watch much normally!)

A final final observation: It was powerful to participate in a truly global event that has been growing each year since 2007, knowing that millions of people on every continent were part of this eco hour.

I invite you to join this growing movement of unlikely environmentalists by reducing the amount of pollution you send out your tailpipes and chimneys– and crucially, by using your spheres of influence as a consumer and most especially as a voter.

Because we have exactly enough time– starting now.

March 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

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