Something as simple as flipping a light switch can make a difference — an act especially encouraged for one hour this Saturday. The Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council will sponsor Penn State’s second Earth Hour Celebration from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday on the Old Main Patio.
The first Earth Hour was on March 31, 2007 in Sydney, Australia. Since then, it has grown into “the largest symbolic mass participation event in the world,” according to its website.
Earth Hour unites communities across the globe that make a commitment to the planet by switching off non-essential lights. Sarina Katz said she worked with different organizations last year to bring an Earth Hour celebration to Penn State. This year, with the support of the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Council, Katz said she is serving as the Earth Hour coordinator. Last year, Katz did a “phenomenal job” of organizing activities, said Paul Ruskin, communications coordinator for Office of Physical Plant. She took an important event and made it into a fun event, he said.
The celebration will feature entertainment, trivia games to win prizes and sky lanterns, Katz (junior- international relations and history) said.
“The celebration is a great way to bring people together,” Katz said. “It’s such a simple thing you can do that creates awareness.”
R.A.M. Squad, NOMMO, Blue Band Trumpets and the Ballroom Dance Club will perform, said entertainment coordinator Heather Hodge (junior- crime, law, and justice). During Earth Hour, OPP has designated certain areas where it can safely turn off outside decorative lights on campus, such as at the Nittany Lion Shrine, the Nittany Lion Inn, Old Main and the Information Sciences and Technology Building, Ruskin said.
In addition, the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics will open the telescopes on the roof of Davey Lab for free stargazing between 8:30 and 10 p.m. — weather permitting, Ruskin said. Leaving on unnecessary lights not only wastes energy but can lead to light pollution, Ruskin said. He added light pollution can inhibit astronomy research.
“If you can’t see the stars at night, you lose that connection with nature,” he added.
Both Ruskin and Katz expressed a hope that not only students and faculty, but also businesses and residents of State College will consider turning off their non-essential lights during Earth Hour.
“You can be a part of something so much bigger than yourself, and it’s literally just flipping a switch,” Katz said.