Thursday, 29 March 2012

Lights Out, All Out

Two days, nine hours and 30 minutes.” I announce to nobody in particular. There's plenty of time to prepare myself. I pull out the checklist from my handbag: torch, tick; candles, tick... Oh my God, I don't have any matches and I don't smoke. Matches, matches, where can I get some matches? Does Epsom even have a shop that stocks matches? Perhaps I should buy a lighter? Hmmm, I'm not sure... Lighting a flame inside makes me uneasy. A typical Fire sign, I barely keep my own internal fire under control. Tick, tick, tick...The clock's second hand moves noisily. Another two minutes lost on this countdown to Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is a lights-out event organised by the The World Wildlife Fund. On the 31st at 8:30pm, millions of homes across the globe will turn out their lights for an hour. Humanity united in a global switch-off to protect the environment. Plunged into darkness, will the world cope with this blackout? One hour may not seem like very much, but a large majority of us have never known what it's like to be pitched into blackness. The Second World War is spoken of, but it's not a part of our own life experience. Candlelight is seen as atmospheric; a romantic glow between two people. A log-burning fire is cosy and comforting; the wood cackling as the flames leap and spit. Flickering flames are hypnotic; lost in a trance as the shadows cast dance. None of the above are lit for necessity, they are referred to instead as 'mood lighting'. Flames have a soothing effect and might also be described as ritualistic; a match struck for a purpose. A ritual performed to commemorate an event or person.

Electric lights have become the norm for us. The flick of a switch and the room is lit with an unnatural brightness. An artificial glare, no corner left undiscovered or in dimness. Houses and windows alight, a fluorescent yellow highlights their territory. Rooms flooded with light shows the occupiers are home, but is this constant usage necessary? For a full 60 minutes, offset the negative effect by turning lights out, all out.