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Earth Hour Toronto 2008: Pass or Fail?

Posted by Jerrold Litwinenko / March 30, 2008

earth hour toronto 2008So how was your Earth Hour? Did you take part? What are your impressions on how well or poorly Toronto performed?

Ontario as a whole appears to have seen a bit of a downward blip (see above plot - source) and according to the Star Toronto observed an 8.7% dip on it's energy curve.

Continue reading to view several selected photos from the blogTO Flickr pool and videos from the blogTO YouTube group taken all around the city, and feel free to share your opinions on how our city fared by commenting.

Scarborough (McCowan and 401) during/after comparison by Scorchez:
earth hour toronto 2008

A scan of a quiet residential street in East York by jasperibe:

The downtown core (including Dundas Square) by 3461167:

View of the skyline from Polson St by ~EvidencE~:earth hour toronto 2008

Aerial view by News46:earth hour toronto 2008

Downtown bank towers by luxography:earth hour toronto 2008

Eaton Centre by wyliepoon:earth hour toronto 2008

Honest Ed's by Easternblot:earth hour toronto 2008

Candlelight by Rockers generation:earth hour toronto 2008



Adam / March 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm
Love that Gladiator theme remixed in the vid by 3461167. I'm having a really hard time not being cynical about this whole thing.

I know it's a step in the right direction, but really looking through all the photos and videos here and elsewhere, this is probably something that could be pulled off *every* night if a little more thought was put into conservation. (Do we REALLY need the top of that condo building lit up like a matchstick?
Dave / March 30, 2008 at 12:40 pm
Yeah, but I think this was the point of the whole thing.

To see how easy it actually is to reduce power consumption, and how many ridiculous uses of light that we have.

It's a start, that's all. Certainly a lot more effective than the Earth Aid concerts or whatever they were called.
lee Chapman / March 30, 2008 at 01:01 pm
Every little bit helps, right? So my daughter and I got into it. I was just stumped when she asked why the other buildings had lights on still. Especially the swimming pool in the next building -- all lit up and nobody there.
Jerrold / March 30, 2008 at 01:05 pm
Why stumped, Lee? Would it be inappropriate to teach your daughter the hard truth that some people simply don't care about the environment, and that she should strive to be different? I don't think so. :)
W. K. Lis / March 30, 2008 at 02:06 pm
As we change from incandescent to fluorescent and then LED lighting, the savings percentage will go down. That leaves us with the unnecessary lights we see.
The old excuse that the lights provide some of the heat in office buildings, would no longer be an excuse, since LED produce no heat as a by-product.
Michael / March 30, 2008 at 02:08 pm
What's that obnoxious building with all of it's light on in the Aerial view by News46?
Mark Dowling / March 30, 2008 at 02:09 pm
Ask yourself this - would you do Earth Hour, every hour every day - to save 5%? I'm sorry but watching Don Cherry by candlelight (approved by David Suzuki) was interesting once, not every Saturday. Next Saturday night the bank towers will be on and the Dundas Square advertising blaring out.

We need smart meters and timed pricing - and soon. The Ontario Government should deliver a power meter (the kind you plug your computer or tv or fridge into to show how much it uses) to every home so people can see the consequences of not plugging out your phone charger when you're done. Hit the pocket book, you get change.

When people are using night time hydro and nuke power by putting timers on their dishwashers, dryers, washing machines that will put real dents in peak load which comes from coal and gas and direct usage to low-GHG power sources.

At the same time we have to remember that with the upcoming Transit City streetcar lines, expanded subway service to 7-car trains on the Yonge line and electric GO Trains on the Lakeshore line, there are some increased electricity usages that are a good thing.
Jerrold / March 30, 2008 at 02:16 pm
@ Michael

Not certain. It looks like it may be Simcoe Place though, based on it's position behind Roy Thompson Hall. Here's a <a href="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3097/2372108279_41ddff2811_b.jpg";>larger image</a>.
Chris Orbz / March 30, 2008 at 02:19 pm
Dundas Square seemed to do the best job of anything I saw.

Nathan Phillips seemed dumb... a huge glowing amplified Earth Hour "Unplugged" concert? Although I remember seeing the Bullfrog logo around, so was that powered by renewables?

I went inside the Eaton Centre and some of that was just embarassing. The fully illuminated and deserted info desk sporting glowing Earth Hour ads, surrounded by stores that were empty and locked yet still had every single light burning.

Never, ever, ever flicking their light switches to off is actually one of the stupidest wastes businesses seem to regularly engage in. In the middle of the night, many businesses (especially mattress stores for some reason) are still glowing brighter than environmentally conscious businesses even do when they're open. I really think it's time we have legislation against that kind of stupidity, because no one seems to be interested in correcting their behaviour themselves.
Antoine / March 30, 2008 at 02:38 pm
I found the multitude of helicopters buzzing about amusing. As was the incredible traffic downtown. Cars filled with people who came to "look at all them lights turned off" in their SUVs and minivans. Or people who surrounded themselves with paraffin candles. We have a long way to go.
trnstn / March 30, 2008 at 02:49 pm
I like what you're saying Jerrold. Based on the picture that the T.O Star published today, it still looked like regular downtown just with a lot less lights. If they turned on maybe a few more it wouldn't look as dim as usual. It's honestly just about using less.
I've walked along streets where the shop is clearly locked up and not a soul is in sight, but the lights are still on and even the neon OPEN sign is still on! Ridiculous!
Carrie / March 30, 2008 at 03:21 pm
I sometimes wish I had "Turn off your f'ing lights!" post-its to stick on doors of businesses who keep their lights on all night. What a waste.
John / March 30, 2008 at 05:08 pm
I thought the whole spectacle was amusing.
Melanie / March 30, 2008 at 05:34 pm
Earth hour on that IESO demand graph looks slightly higher than the previous hour to me. The spokesperson says demand in Ontario was down about 5.2%... but 5.2 percent down from what?
Rick / March 30, 2008 at 07:14 pm
And yet H&M and Forever 21 at Yonge & Dundas continued to blast light...
Mike / March 30, 2008 at 07:40 pm
As the cynic in me expected, too many businesses, office builds, and non-residential buildings remained lit up during Earth Hour. It was great to see the Newmarket (where I live) town offices in darkness, as well as some franchise restaurants, but was it necessary for empty commercial space to be lit up? What about offices, car lots, etc.? Did ALL the lights need to be on?

Congrats to those to took part and shame on the businesses that simply didn't appear to care!
hand-fed / March 30, 2008 at 09:04 pm
Douchebags. I kept my lights burning all day Sunday just to make myself feel better.
Carolyn / March 30, 2008 at 09:26 pm
Having been in Sydney Australia on March 31st 2007, and taken part in the first ever Earth Hour, I think that it is great that Toronto has embraced this event.

In a matter of one year, Earth Hour has managed to become a global movement. This is a definite step in the right direction in our efforts to reduce climate change.

Creating awareness is half the battle, and hopefully the one hour of darkness on March 29th 2008 will result in everyone using less energy on a day to day basis.
ayl / March 30, 2008 at 09:32 pm
I went out just before 8pm and walked to Dundas Square. I loved that all the billboard lights were off. Sometimes when I walk back home at 2am, the lights are so bright I feel like it's still daylight! It was also nice to see a lot of people out and about, walking around. I went into Dominion to get some water and loved how they had all the freezer and cooling lights off as well. Bravo to them.
ayl / March 30, 2008 at 09:34 pm
Did anyone else notice Zanzibar also turning off their flashing sign?
Jerrold / March 30, 2008 at 11:46 pm
@ Melanie

On the IESO graph, I see a dip that spans the 18:00-21:00h range. Looks like people started early :)
victor / March 31, 2008 at 07:02 am
A nice bit of amusement for an otherwise dull Saturday night.
And come Monday morning everyone piles into their SUV for the commute to work where they will cheer over how ?successful? the event was.
This type of spectacle requires no effort whatsoever and shows our commitment to nothing more than flipping a switch. Why not get more people to permanently leave their behemoths at home and take transit or car pool? Then we might start saving.
Laurence / March 31, 2008 at 08:56 am
"What's that obnoxious building with all of it's light on in the Aerial view by News46?"

It is the RBC Centre under construction on Simcoe... it was quite strange that the most vacant building downtown was also the brightest that night......
Melanie / March 31, 2008 at 09:19 am
Jerrold - That dip is normal for this time of year. Energy usage typically drops off in the evening hours.
Gregg / March 31, 2008 at 03:02 pm
Haahhaha .. save power ?? Yeah right !! Try less than 1%. No way did majopr industries and steet lights shut down. BUT .. I agree that the whole deal raised awareness.. which was the goal anyways I gather.
mathx / March 31, 2008 at 03:18 pm
Stop getting hung up on PURPOSE and INTENT in energy and resource usage. Enegy and resource usage should be taxed appropriately for its true cost/impact, and then people can decide how to use it. Someone wants to light up the top of a building? Let them. We've never stopped idiots with too much money from wasting it before. Let them waste it into funds that benefit the environment then, if they want to have 10,000 xmas lights out front.

If you let the govt or authority figures decide "what's legit" and "what's not" we'll have situations like airline fuel not being taxed, and people flying like it's their human right ('Oh won't someone think of the economy'... and the endless airline bailouts. Perhaps airflight _ISNT_ sustainable?) . Lobbying and corruption will rampant (more than it already is).

Furthermore, in terms of CO2/GHG emissions, ontario's power generation is >75% non CO2 emitting (source: <a href="http://theimo.com";>http://theimo.com<;/a> - not that nukes are great, but different issue.) Everyone lighting 2-3 candles (which are 40-75W ish each of CO2-producing energy) after turning off their 15W CFL bulbs, probably had a net increase of about 5-10x the CO2 for lighting purposes during the hour (assuming people sat in 1/10tht the brightness with candles). The irony hurts.

(I sat in the dark and talked with my wife after flipping the master breaker on the whole apartment, with some windup flashlights handy. Yes I know they emit CO2 in their mfr.)
Guy Boris / March 31, 2008 at 03:36 pm
Electricity in Ontario is first met with the "base" of hydro and nuclear and that marginal energy demand is met with CO2 sources such as coal.

Look at the demand during Earth Hour in the graph at the top- about 16500 MW. Now if you go to IESO's site, as of right now, we have:
8900 MW Nuclear
4700 MW Hydro

Which is only 13600 MW. By turning off the lights you are primarily reducing demand from coal, which makes up the next 4000 MW in the mix.
Jerrold / March 31, 2008 at 04:06 pm
@ Melanie

<a href="http://www.ieso.ca/imoweb/siteShared/demand_price.asp?sid=ic";>Really</a>?
Melanie / April 1, 2008 at 09:53 am
Jerrold, it is significantly warmer today. Temperature has a big effect on demand.
Jerrold / April 1, 2008 at 11:32 am
Ok, instead of the silly back and forthing on this, please show me data that suggests that there wasn't a drop in energy use or that the entities that monitored the demand are lying. Thanks.
Ry-Tron / April 1, 2008 at 11:51 am
I turn my lights off for 8 hours every day, from 11pm to 7am.
Melanie / April 1, 2008 at 12:18 pm
Take it easy, Jerrold, I'm not attacking you or saying anyone is lying. Here's what I'm looking at. This is what all the generators in Ontario put out for every hour on August 29. Sygration gets this information directly from the IESO. Earth hour is under #21 on this chart. 17726 MW for the hour, higher than the hours before or after it.

So between that and the demand graph, I am wondering what they are comparing it to in order to get a 5.2% drop across Ontario. That's all. Just looking for more information.
Melanie / April 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm
Ok, but that's all about Toronto. The graph in your article is for all of Ontario, and I was referring to the first Star link where the IESO said that "Across the province, demand was down about 900 megawatts, or 5.2 per cent". Maybe that's where the confusion here is. Yes, Toronto went down. But Ontario went up.

Anyway, I can tell you're just getting all mad about it, so I will move my Ontario energy thoughts to blogON.
Jerrold / April 1, 2008 at 01:48 pm
I still fail to see how you're interpreting the graph for Ontario. I think you're only considering the actual recorded demand, without realizing that it deviates (by 5%) from what would the norm.

Yes, the plot shows demand rising into the evening (as it gets dark, colder, we use more energy). If Earth Hour didn't happen, the plot of actual demand would have seen a higher curve during the period spanning Earth Hour. If one were to superimpose the expected or normal demand on top of that graph, you'd see a 5% difference due to Earth Hour efforts.
this is dumb / April 2, 2008 at 04:31 pm
we did so damn bad.. we could do way better but this is such a lame thing to be fightting for why can't we just do somthin else it won't help a bit!! IT DIDN"T MAKE A DIFERENCE.. and to all you envirmental freaks, aww shut up, you ppl are retarded!!
Dafne / April 2, 2008 at 08:35 pm
Worth reading:

<a href="http://earthhourblog.blogspot.com/";>http://earthhourblog.blogspot.com/<;/a>
Rob / April 17, 2008 at 09:38 am
Well I still see this as more of a great campaign than any real results...I thought this was an interesting take on it that really makes the point that awareness more than any real form of conservation was the biggest result.

Matt / April 19, 2008 at 12:18 am
Hey Jerrold.
If you don't want to help out, that's fine. But don't go whining about it on here then. This was not meant to lower consumption. Its purpose was to raise awareness about the whole problem that we currently have on our hands. So if you wanna whine, can it. We don't want to hear it.

In conclusion,
Matt / April 19, 2008 at 12:20 am
K sorry Jerold. You're not that bad... but seriously stop whining.
That post was meant for "this is dumb".
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