March 9, 2011

A Plea to shut down Facebook for Earth Hour.

Photo: Andrew Feinberg

We’ve covered Earth Hour lots before. We love it, mostly. Here’s this year’s first offering from a reader. Want to add something to the coversation? Get the word out? Email us. ~ ed.

With Earth Hour fast approaching, what are you doing to prepare? Planning the evening around a romantic candlelit dinner? Reminding co-workers and friends of its onset?

Are you going to be okay withoutFacebook during Earth Hour? What if they shut down, in the spirit of saving our planet and joining their mostly-youthful members in the international spirit of eco responsibility?

That’s exactly what Angie Bird, from Toronto Canada, is proposing, and she’s got support not only in Canada, but also in Germany, India and Denmark.[1]


No Facebook for one hour. Or does that mean Facebook would shut down for the day in support of all time zones? Did you just feel a pang of panic?

That’s the response some people are having. “What would I do for that hour?” is the response given by editor of the blog allfacebook.com.[2]

Truly a statement of our current culture. Facebook’s statistics page shows that people spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. What would we do without technology for 60 minutes? What about one full day?

Photo: Rob Boudon

Angie hints at it in her video, saying we’d have more time to “poke people in real life.” While her statement is funny, it reveals a large truth about intimacy within our society. Are we starting to forget the importance of face-to-face contact? Bruce Springsteen’s song “Human Touch” comes to mind:

“Somebody that you could just to talk to,
And a little of that human touch.”

Does that “human touch” still refer to skin-to-skin contact? Has it become “somebody that you could just talk to” via a Facebook message, or a Facebook poke?

Our addiction to social networking actually has quite a carbon footprint; one that most people are unaware of. It compares to the amount left by some major U.S. cities. In 2008, Facebook’s carbon footprint was half of New York City’s equal to 0.75 ton of greenhouse CO2. Of course Facebook has expanded since then, projecting the new number to one full ton of greenhouse CO2[3] or more.

With over 500 million Facebook users[4] and Bird’s request to “Shut down Facebook for Earth Hour”, about 7% of the world’s population[5] would be affected. A huge impact for environmental awareness throughout the world!

Sure, shutting down & restarting all 10,000+ servers[6] will take up more energy than having them off for one hour, but the expectation of reaching 7% of the world’s population and raising environmental concerns is awfully tempting. Getting Mark Zuckerberg’s attention on this matter is another milestone. How often do we get the chance to reach someone who is a leader in world communication to let him know that environmental concerns are important and supported!  Even if Facebook simply shut down the login ability in support of Earth Hour, awareness would be astronomical. And continue beyond Earth Hour.

~ Angie Bird

So go ahead and check out Bird’s page on Facebook, become aware, and pass it on.

And during that one hour, those sweet candlelit 60 minutes (on March 26th, at 20:30) maybe, just maybe, we’d all get a little of that human touch.

Donna Wilding. Art Producer at an advertising agency by day, yoga teacher by night, she is integrating the benefits of yoga between corporate days and yogic nights. A teacher of yoga, student of yoga for 8+ years, and a student of life for 30, she believes in the benefits of Facebook and social tools for today’s culture, but strongly believes the benefits of real human touch to be irreplaceable. Currently residing in Canada and watching her personal carbon footprint, she’s studying towards Anusara certification and loving every second of it. donnawilding.com

[1] http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shut-Down-Fbook-4-Earth-Hour/147197015337844?ref=ts

[2] http://www.thestar.com/living/article/945260–campaign-on-to-switch-off-facebook-for-earth-hour

[3] http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=487

[4] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_many_active_users_are_there_on_Facebook

[5] http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2010/10/three-stats-that-reveal-much-about-our-digital-culture/1

[6] http://www.trendsspotting.com/blog/?p=487

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