Australian Baptists announced last week that they support Earth Hour 2008, an initiative launched last year in Sydney that focuses on global warming and has spread across the globe, signing up individuals, corporations and cities to reduce their greenhouse emissions.

On March 31, 2007, over 2 million Sydneysiders flicked off their lights for one hour. Some 2,100 Sydney businesses joined in. The city’s electrical usage dropped 10 percent in that 60-minute act of solidarity and gave birth to a global movement.

Internationally recognized landmark buildings and structures will go dark for one hour on March 29, 2008, from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., including Sydney’s Harbor Bridge and Opera House, Chicago’s Sears Tower, Atlanta’s Coca-Cola Headquarters and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, according to Earth Hour 2008. Dubai will turn off its non-essential lights, making it the first Arab city to join in. From Vancouver to Tel Aviv, cities have announced their involvement.

If you want to see what businesses in your community have signed up as supporters of Earth Hour 2008, then click here.

Earth Hour is a campaign of the World Wildlife Fund, a global conservation organization that protects wildlife, promotes sustainable approaches to renewable natural resources and advocates energy efficiency.

“Climate change poses a global threat to human survival and well-being, and Baptists also support measured initiatives to reduce the human contribution to global warming,” read a statement sent to by Australian Baptists.

Ross Clifford, president of the Baptist Union of Australia, and Rod Benson, ethicist and public theologian at the Tinsley Institute of Morling College, were listed as the media contacts.

“Participation in Earth Hour 2008 is an excellent way to express our ongoing commitment to climate change initiatives, and to take practical action as families and individuals to reduce energy consumption,” said the statement.

The Baptist Union of Australia urged governmental action on climate change in 2006, calling for the government to address both “the adverse environmental effects of climate change” and “the human suffering and loss resulting from climate change.” BUA advocated a 50 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions 2050.

The statement said, “Godly stewardship of the creation includes respect for and education about the creation and its ecosystems, wise allocation and use of natural resources, and rejecting a lifestyle of over-consumption.”

Australian Baptists have led the global Baptist community before, most notably with the Micah Challenge. Once again, they are at the cutting edge.

Will other Baptists join them? Will we and other people of faith think globally and act locally? Will we flick off our lights for one hour for the global good?

Hopefully, the answer is yes. Granted, the official hour is near. Little planning time is left. Commitments may already be made for that specific time.

Nonetheless, any level of involvement is what is important. Creating a conversation in our homes, churches, schools and businesses about global warming is overdue. Talking about flicking off our lights this week and doing so is an empowering step: we simultaneously act individually and acknowledge global interconnectivity.

Flicking off our lights for one hour this week, when we would normally have our lights burning, also reduces our carbon footprint, a measurement of our environmental contribution to greenhouse gases. Reducing that impact can only be a positive step.

From a Christian perspective, turning off our non-essential lights and unplugging our non-essential electrical appliances is a substantive act of earth stewardship and a symbolic act of determination that we will address global warming.

So, why not participate?

Robert Parham is executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics.

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