Campus goes dark for Earth Hour

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Evan Koslof

Campus looked darker than normal at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday, as students and members of the GW community joined millions of people worldwide in turning off their lights for one hour.

During this global event known as Earth Hour, people switched off lights from the Eiffel Tower to the living room of President Steven Knapp to try and raise awareness of the environmental toll of light usage.

The University participated in this event for the third year in a row, turning off the majority of lights in more than 10 locations across both of GW’s residential campuses.

1957 E Street, Duques Hall, Kogan Plaza, the Health and Wellness Center, and parts of the Mount Vernon campus participated in the event.

Sophie Waskow, the stakeholder engagement coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, said the administration supported the event because of its symbolic meaning.

“We are excited to continue our participation in Earth Hour to highlight how small actions (such as turning off lights) can help raise awareness about climate change, and add up to big impact,” she said in an e-mail.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 as a global sustainability movement. In the first year, 2.2 million people turned off their lights. That number continues to increase annually. This year, hundreds of cities in 134 countries participated in turning off their lights.

Members of Green GW, an environmental student organization that  introduced many “green” policies to the University, said they urged members of the GW community to participate in Earth Hour.

Green GW president Alex Mizenko said the event was important because it got people involved with environmentalism.

“In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t have a large effect on our carbon footprint,” he said. “But the real effect is in awareness.”

The College Democrats also supported the event, sending out messages to its members about clicking off the light switch. CD President Josh Altman said this event could lead to meaningful policy change.

“Earth Hour brings attention to the environment,” he said. “And awareness can be a powerful tool in finding a solution.”

Other members of the GW community  called the event an unproductive movement, however, and say there are more effective ways at fighting climate change.

Jake Wolf, the chairman of the College Republicans, said Earth Hour doesn’t adequately show a devotion to the planet.

“It’s just a publicity stunt,” he said.

Wolf said GW should focus its attention on lowering tuition, rather than investing in costly environmental products like “green” light bulbs.

David Rain, an associate professor of Geography and the director of the environmental studies program at GW, said while this hour is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough.

“What about the other 364 days of the year?” he said in an interview. “More meaningful change is needed.”

Rain said that reducing energy consumption in a meaningful way might take awhile, but that he is confident that in time, it will occur.

“It’s like turning around a giant ship,” he said.

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