Saturday, March 29, 2008

How We Enjoyed Earth Hour

After explaining to our three-year old daughter Emma the concept of Earth Hour and when it would be, she quickly came up with several suggestions of "quiet" things to do when we turned off the lights. (I'm not sure why she decided they had to be quiet things, but given that Earth Hour also coincided with her bedtime, we didn't object.) After supper she started asking if Earth Hour was here yet, and I showed her the clock and explained how much time was left. By 7:45 she couldn't wait any longer and so we started early.

First, we turned on our recently-purchased LED solar lanterns (designed for gardens, the ones with flat bases also work well if you bring them indoors at night), an older candle lantern, and a battery-operated lantern (with incandescent bulb - a genuine 20th century camping item!). The battery lantern was a hit, because we felt that it was safe enough to let Emma carry it around the house. (Yes, we will need to find one that takes rechargeable batteries and hopefully uses efficient LED bulbs.)

Emma said we could get many more solar lanterns, which was a good time to mention that Earth Hour was about seeing how much light (and other stuff) we really need, rather than always using more. That may have been the most educational moment.

Then, we made sure that all of the lights were turned off in each room, and that the TV, computer and other optional appliances were off (including their power bars!).

Emma had suggested doing puzzles, so I suggested she pick one out from her large collection. The first one she choose is a simple one for younger children, where you have to fit individual puzzle pieces with pictures of animals into cutouts on a wooden board. We each closed our eyes, attempted to identify the pieces and then fit them in with our eyes still closed. Surprisingly challenging for those who are used to relying on sight.

Then, we laid out a blanket in the living room floor and had a small picnic. Emma made everyone cozy by bringing out a bunch of cushions to sit on.

After puzzles and the picnic, it was bedtime. But first we looked out the window to see if our neighbours also had their lights off -- many of them did. We tried to find stars and managed to locate Sirius and the constellation Orion. Then, we did PJs, stories, and turned out the lantern.

All-in-all, it was a successful evening, and I'm sure we'll get requests for repeat performances! (It was also a good way to test our preparedness for emergencies like a power black-out :-)

Hope everyone else had fun too!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tim Flannery & Bridget Stutchbury to Speak in Toronto

I wish I could attend this event - it sounds great!

A Focus on the Environment

Tim Flannery and Bridget Stutchbury
The Weathermakers: The History and Future Impact of Climate Change

Speaking at the Bloor Cinema ~ 506 Bloor Street
April 3rd, 2008
Doors open at 6:30 pm ~ Lecture begins at 7:00 pm
Followed by book signing ~ Books available for purchase

Tickets are $25
General Admission
Purchase tickets online at

World renown explorer, conservationist and writer-scientist, Tim Flannery has written many bestselling books, including The Future Eaters, The Eternal Frontier and of course the #1 international bestseller The Weather Makers. Tim Flannery was director of the South Australia Museum and professor at Harvard and the University of Adelaide. He was voted Australian of the year in 2006 and is now professor at Maquarie University. His new book, An Explorer's Notebook, Essays on Life, History and Climate, will publish in Canada Spring 2008.

Short-listed for the 2007 Governor General's award for non-fiction, Silence of the Songbirds follows birds on their 10,000-kilometer journey from Canada to South America, and charts the threats. Tim Flannery claims, "this book is a must-read for anyone whose heart has thrilled to the song of a bird." Author Bridget Stutchbury completed her PhD at Yale , was a fellow and research associate at the Smithsonian and is now an Associate Professor of Biology at York University.


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