If you'd rather sit at home with the lights off than watch the NSW election coverage, you're in luck. This year's Earth Hour starts at 8.30pm the night of the election, providing you with some alternative civic participation if you weren't looking forward to a night of margins and reported booths. The night started here in Sydney in 2007 and has become an international event in the years since. Earth Hours are now carried out in cities around the world, like Shenyang in China and Medellin near the Colombian coast.
Earth Hour is a symbolic action. Although there is carbon saved by turning things off, the point is the unmissable demonstration that a huge chunk of the world's population can do the same thing at the same time. If they can do it for Earth Hour, why not for grander environmental things? This year, the focus sits squarely after 9.30. People around the world are pledging to keep doing the little things that add up — cycling to work, recycling more, refusing plastic bags at the supermarket. You can join in with the broader environmental message, or you can just go for the spectacle. But any of these small acts could lead to bigger things.
Image of Earth Hour Switch Off 2010 by Sewell / WWF.