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What is your favourite hour of the year? If you don't know, make it 8.30-9.30pm, just after dinner tomorrow and do something worthwhile to justify your choice. Most of the British population will be watching television, but you can buck this languorous trend by observing ‘earth hour’. The idea is to switch off the lights, use as little electricity as possible, and use your own energy in a more creative and satisfying way. Katee Hui at the charming site dothegreenthing.com recently asked me in my capacity as a chess Grandmaster to write a blog for them on why a game of chess was a good way to spend the hour, but there may be even better ways, including cuddling or indeed similar movements of that nature.

What is your favourite hour of the year? If you don't know, make it 8.30-9.30pm, just after dinner tomorrow and do something worthwhile to justify your choice. Most of the British population will be watching television, but you can buck this languorous trend by observing ‘earth hour’. The idea is to switch off the lights, use as little electricity as possible, and use your own energy in a more creative and satisfying way. Katee Hui at the charming site dothegreenthing.com recently asked me in my capacity as a chess Grandmaster to write a blog for them on why a game of chess was a good way to spend the hour, but there may be even better ways, including cuddling or indeed similar movements of that nature.

The genesis of earth hour was Sydney 2007, where 2000 businesses and over 2.2 million individuals turned their lights off to make a stand against climate change. Far from being a forgettable token gesture, in just one year earth hour went global, with 50 million people across 35 countries taking part. In 2011 it’s even bigger, and this year earthhour.org are asking people to use the hour of engagement to think about the one thing we all have in common- our planet- and what we are going to do to protect it from ourselves. Our Prime Minister David Cameron gave his backing to the importance of the hour and the wider purpose it represents.

There is plenty more to say about this hour, including curmudgeonly critiques outlined on the wikipedia page about candles not being very eco-friendly and large scale turning off and on of electricity possibly increasing carbon emissions. One feels they are rather missing the point, which is of course about reminding ourselves that on the issue of climate change, unlike defecit reductions, we really are 'in this together'. Indeed, I would be curious to know if the researchers of the Global Consciousness Project pick up any interesting statistical noise during this hour when several million across the planet are focussed on the same thing.

Above all, earth hour made me think of one my favourite scenes from the third Lord of the Rings film. At a tense moment, shortly after Denathor, Steward of Gondor, has refused to call for aid, Gandalf hatches a plan. In the days before internet or telephones, there were still ways to communicate across long distances, and it doesn't do any harm that this scene was filmed over spectacular scenery in New Zealand. Earth hour is about turning lights off across the globe rather than lighting the beacons of Minas Tirith. Nonetheless, this scene represents the same goal as earth hour- to use our relationship to light to shed light on ourselves, to wake us up to our shared predicament, and to help each other to protect our only home.

Youtube have removed the code that would allow me to show the video on this blog, but if you want to be reminded of this evocative scene, please click here.

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