A colleague of mine is starting a campaign called “Switch it off”.  I got this email from her today.  She’s basically looking for photos of businesses and buildings with their lights switched on unnecessarily at night.

I’m wanting to start a campaign called “Switch it Off!” that is aimed at encouraging businesses to switch their lights off at night, and I need your help…!

Now, before I freak you out, the help that I’m looking for is really simple, and just involves you taking a couple of happy-snaps of buildings at night, that have their lights on, and sending them to me… Let me explain: CO2 emissions are a problem, Eskom is on its knees, and night after night we have buildings illuminated like fireflies, with (virtually) no-one in them. I think this is a problem, and it’s one that I want to try and do something about. So, if you agree, please, keep on reading.

As I said, the aim of this campaign is to get buildings to switch off unnecessary lights, and the first step in that campaign is to gather evidence that there is, actually, a problem with companies, shopping malls, car-parks, etc, leaving their lights on at night without any real reason. I think there is, but who knows, maybe I’m wrong – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time! Now, as we’ve all heard a million times, a picture is worth a thousand words, so what I’m asking, is that if you have a photo of a building at night, or happen to be coming back from work, or a bender (although you may not be in a position to remember then) and can whip out your cell phone / camera and take a quick snap of a building with its lights on, and send it to me with a quick one-liner about where it is from (i.e. what road you were on), and if possible the name of the building that is in the photo, I’d be hugely grateful and, who knows, just maybe you’ll be helping the planet 😉 *drum-roll, please*. I will of course credit you with your photo(s), if you send me your name. And please don’t think that this is about taking awesome photos (although no-doubt some of you might), this is about the buildings, so as long as it’s vaguely in focus, and not of your car’s roof, or your cat, it would be awesome.

Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that it’s not that difficult, perhaps I can try and persuade you why it’s worthwhile…

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, South Africa is currently at number 12 in the list of the countries with the worst CO2 emissions (http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/science/each-countrys-share-of-co2-emissions.html), which when you consider that from a GDP perspective we only rank at number 30 (according to the IMF) is a pretty shameful situation. One, simple, way to make a real difference is for us to not use electricity when we don’t need to, and I really don’t believe that those buildings that are lit up like Christmas trees at 2am, are still stuffed to the rafters with people working, so perhaps if we got them to switch off their lights, firstly it would help the planet, and secondly, perhaps it would help Eskom, and I think we can all agree that right now they need all the help they can get! At the moment I can’t quantify exactly how much of an impact this will make – that’s part of my research phase – but I don’t want to go and bug the scientists to help me with data, until I know for sure that there’s a problem – and that’s where you, hopefully, come in. So please think about it, and if you think it’s worthwhile idea, send me your photos… Also, please feel free to forward this on to anyone else that you may think is interested – viral activism rocks and, you never know, together maybe we can make a difference.

 Cheers & thanks


P.S. In case any of you are thinking (like I did) that it’s more energy efficient to leave fluorescent lights on then to turn them off, unfortunately that’s a myth, and most calculations estimate that if you are out of a room for more than 10 – 15 minutes, it’s more efficient to switch your lights off. If you don’t believe me, and why should you, Google it.

 P.P.S. If anyone is still in any doubt about Climate Change, may I recommend a site called RealClimate.org (http://www.realclimate.org/) – it’s a site written by reputable scientists, that systematically debunks all of the holdout theories…

Please email all photos to celia.roux@gmail.com, or send her links to your blogs where you have posted photos that fit the requirement.