Earth Hour in the Philippines, or the switching off of lights for an hour, is celebrated in the summer.

The timing may have been unintentional but it is quite appropriate that we worry about the earth’s pains when signs of impending environmental catastrophes hit us as we step into the heat from our airconditioned cars, homes and offices.

In other countries, the celebration takes place at the end of winter or the start of spring, depending on which continent you are located. In the Philippines it comes as the summer heat reminds us of the earth’s troubles with global warming.

Anyone cursing the scorching heat these days must know a bit about the causes of the drastic temperature changes. Global warming. Global warming is getting the blame for the more than usual heat this summer and the stronger than usual downpours during wet seasons.

The purpose of Earth Hour when lights were shut from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. yesterday, March 27, is to show solidarity for the environment, promote the saving of electricity and push for the lowering of carbon emissions.

According to the Philippine report on the Earth Hour website at www.earthhour.org, the Philippines ranked first among 88 nations in terms of local participation in the 2009 celebration. Over 10 million Filipinos in 647 cities and municipalities switched off their lights during Earth Hour, saving an estimated 611mwh of electricity – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power-plants, the report said.

Coal-fired electricity is reportedly the biggest contributor to global warming. A cut-down in coal-fired power is a slowing down of global warming.

The aim of this year’s celebration is to mobilize 15 million Filipinos in 1,000 towns, cities and municipalities to take a symbolic stand against climate change. To generate awareness, organizers have come up with a theme song titled “If we try” and have scheduled street parties and switch-off ceremonies attended by entertainment personalities. Anything to bring in the people and to make them aware.

Malls and businesses getting into the movement helps get the people’s attention, with the spotlight on the need for lifestyle changes to stop the damage to the earth.

***

The Sun.Star website at www.sunstar.com.ph will host an online chat with lawyer Gregorio Larrazabal, commissioner of the Commission on Elections, tomorrow, Monday, from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Larrazabal, a Cebuano, will take questions for the poll body on its preparations for the May 10 elections and the fear in everyone’s mind of a failure of the exercise.

Those wishing to participate may log on to chat.sunstar.com.ph and register a username. Moderator will be lawyer Elias Espinoza, Sun.Star Cebu columnist.

The online chat is part of a series of interactions with website visitors being hosted by Sun.Star in line with its Philippine Votes 2010 coverage.

(ninicab@sunstar.com.ph)