On Saturday, March 28 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., Belmont University participated with businesses throughout the city of Nashville, the United States and the world in Earth Hour 2009. Earth Hour is a global initiative organized by the World Wildlife Fund that aims to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues. Nashville was selected as a 2009 flagship city, along with Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Sydney. Mayor Karl Dean, along with country artists Jo Dee Messina, Big and Rich, and Kathy Mattea offered their support for the global event and were the faces of the Nashville initiative.
The WWF encouraged households and businesses to turn off all non-essential lights and other electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. Belmont University was one of six universities in Nashville that participated in Earth Hour. All lighting in the center of Belmont’s campus was turned off during the hour, while necessary lighting remained on in order to comply with safety regulations.
“When I first heard that Belmont was turning off lights to participate in Earth Hour, I did think about the safety of students who lived on campus,” said Emily Hickey, senior music business major. “Saturday nights are a busy time at Belmont, with students coming and going from their dorms or apartments.”
Even though all non-essential lighting was off during the hour, life at Belmont seemed to have continued without any disruptions or malfunctions.
“From a security stand-point, there were no problems,” said Eric Simpson, administrative manager of the Office of Campus Security.
Campus security was fully staffed and patrol officers kept an extra-close watch on all campus activity. The Belmont maintenance staff was responsible for making sure all fuse boxes were synced and that lighting remained off during the event.
Earth Hour offered a chance for students to reflect with friends about how important the environment is to them. Many students took advantage of the hour without power and gathered with friends for activities by candlelight.
“My friends and I decided we would cook dinner and play games by candlelight,” Hickey said. “Earth Hour was a chance for me and my friends to decrease our impact on the environment, and we took full advantage of it.”
Each dormitory turned off lights in their facilities. Every third light remained on to ensure the safety and well-being of students.
In the Curb Event Center parking garage, several Belmont bands and musical artists gathered for an acoustic concert. This was just another way that showed how Belmont students care about environmental issues.
Belmont’s involvement in Earth Hour speaks volumes about how important young people are to initiatives, whether they’re environmental or political.
“Through Earth Hour, WWF hopes to create political momentum for enacting national climate legislation and a global climate treaty,” said Judy Takats of the World Wildlife Fund. “As the world watched during the last U.S. Presidential election, college students and recent graduates fought for change and in doing so inspired the world and made a real difference.”
For Belmont and universities throughout Nashville, the United States and the world, Earth Hour was another opportunity for young people to send a clear message to our nation’s leaders.
“From melting glaciers to dramatic weather patterns, climate change is already impacting life on Earth and will continue to do so unless we take action.” Takats said.
Earth Hour reminds Belmont students that we all have a role to play in fighting climate change, and that the smallest action, like turning off lights, can have a tremendous impact on our world.
“College campuses that turn off their lights for Earth Hour send a strong message to the world that citizens of the United States recognize this global crisis and want our elected officials to take action,” Takats said.
From eating dinner and playing games by candlelight to acoustic concerts, Belmont students played an important role in Earth Hour 2009. If we apply our actions from that one hour without power to more instances in our daily lives; such as brushing our teeth without the water running or unplugging telephone chargers when they are not in use; our world has the potential to be a much better place.