Lights Out? Program to save energy clicks with conservationists

first_imgIt took Lights Out founder Nate Tyler six months to rally San Franciscans for the self-imposed brown-out that will darken City Hall, the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. He got the idea from an “Earth Hour” held in March in Sydney, Australia, where 2.2million people hoping to see the stars cut their lights – for a 10percent drop in energy use. The savings: 25tons of carbon dioxide, enough to take 49,000 cars off the road for an hour. A “Lights Out America” is planned for March 29 in cities nationwide. “We’re giving people one thing they can do to save energy that connects them to all the people around them who are concerned about the same issue – climate change,” Tyler said. “You turn out your lights, come out of your house, look at the stars and go have a candlelight dinner at a local restaurant.” San Franciscans have long been hip to Lights Out, but Angelenos had just a month to hunt for oil lamps and tapers. Lights Out L.A., recently approved by the city and county and backed by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, will withhold juice from the decorative pylons at LAX, the courthouse in San Fernando and other public buildings. Officials hope for a 15percent reduction in usage – enough energy to power 2,500 homes for a year. “We’re asking Angelenos to be smart and sensible about energy conservation,” said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel during a Lights Out press conference this week in front of the Department of Water and Power headquarters. “We don’t want this to be a one-night stand but an ongoing effort to conserve energy and protect our environment.” Global warming is the “great challenge of the century,” said Bill Patzert, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory climatologist who lectures on the danger of climate change. “This is a symbolic gesture of how many people recognize the problem and want to take action,” said Patzert, who will turn off his lights. “All of a sudden, the lights are going on in everybody’s brain about the seriousness of global warming.” Some say public events like Lights Out are possible only because of a public shift in perception on global warming publicized by Al Gore in his movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and its subsequent awards. “L.A. and San Francisco officials who haven’t done squat about energy all of a sudden want to get on board,” said Jack Solomon, a cultural critic at California State University, Northridge. “And what made it cool? Al Gore made a movie, won an Oscar and Nobel Prize, and now the public’s behind it.” Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, praised the Lights Out campaign, a California idea that might heighten awareness in the East. “I definitely think this is an example, one of the latest, where people are taking any means necessary to combat global warming,” she said. “They’re wondering when the policymakers are going to catch up nationwide.” Like Ekwurzel, many residents said they hadn’t heard about the anti-lights observance. But when asked, most said they’d support it – if they weren’t heading out to work, to party or visit friends. “I could do that, I could turn them all off, everything – the TV, my coffee pot, my microwave. I never plug in my alarm clock,” said Crystal Horr, a waitress at Cafe 50s in Sherman Oaks. “I’m a nut about electricity.” “I’d probably read a book, by candlelight, or I’d go for a walk,” said Kyle Hansen, 22, of Sherman Oaks, perusing the DVD aisle at Best Buy. “I’ll just ride my bike with a battery-operated light … or go to someone’s house and get drunk in the dark,” said his friend, Taylor Thompson, 19. Pixie Klemic, an environmentalist who’d heard about the event, said she and her husband planned to sit on a darkened patio with a laptop, checking real-time satellite photos to see if L.A. went dark. But Sharon, an orthodox Jew from West L.A., said the timing couldn’t be worse, with Lights Out planned for the end of a Sabbath day without electricity. “Forget it,” said Sharon, who declined to give her last name. “It’s such a dumb hour to pick. I think it’s a great idea, but it’s the wrong time to do it.” Many businesses unaware of the Lights Out campaign likely will not participate. Galpin Ford, a Van Nuys mega-dealer whose lights burn bright until 10 p.m., has revamped its office lights to save power and will soon spend up to $400,000 for low-energy lot lights. The San Fernando Valley’s largest car dealer, unaware of Lights Out, will not dim its intense outside bulbs during Saturday night sales. “I didn’t even know this was happening,” Vice President Brad Boeckmann said. “Our lot lights – I don’t want to do anything with those because we don’t want to affect business.” [email protected] (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! At 8 tonight, Fernando Ludena will kill his lights, turn off his TV and cut short his Saturday night. And for one hour, he will join conservationists across Los Angeles and San Francisco who will flick off the lights for a return to the Dark Ages. “I’ll go to my bed. I’ll lie down for an hour – one hour. It’s good for saving money, saving energy,” said Ludena, 59, of Van Nuys. “I’ll turn off the power in my wheelchair.” The Lights Out event endorsed by L.A. and San Francisco officials aims to turn off as many nonessential lights as possible – in homes, office and public buildings and landmarks – for one hour to cut pollution, promote energy savings and slow global warming. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Participants also are asked to screw in one compact fluorescent bulb. But are fast-paced Angelenos really ready for a candlelit prime time? “I think it’s a lost cause,” said Mike Kennedy, 59, of Van Nuys, ogling wide video-game monitors at a Best Buy in Sherman Oaks. “No, I may be out and (the lights) may be off. But if I’m home, they’re not. I won’t sit home in the dark.” “This is L.A.,” added a Best Buy clerk. “It’s like telling Las Vegas to turn off the lights.” If lights in L.A. and San Francisco both dim, it could be the first time residents of both cities joined forces since 1967, when the Mamas & the Papas and Jefferson Airplane played the Monterey Pop Festival. last_img read more