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Earth Hour picks up more supporters here

Citizen Staff Writer



Tucson’s second Earth Hour observance saw an increase in participants and activities Saturday night, backers said.

Community events attracted 1,000 people, said Beth Gorman, program manager at the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.

Many more participated by turning off lights and appliances from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, she said.

“As our numbers are growing each year, we think next year we will reach even more people with the message of conservation of resources and protection of the Earth’s delicate balance,” Gorman said.

Fourth Avenue merchants offered candlelight dining specials, dark beer specials and musical entertainment, said Kurt Tallis, marketing and event director for the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association.

“It worked out just great. We had music playing and a nice little crowd,” he said. “The whole idea was awareness. We got people to stop and think about it.”

Star parties at the University of Arizona Mall and Sabino Canyon, where members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association invited the public to view the skies through telescopes, attracted hundreds of people during Earth Hour.

Jake Turner, UA astronomy and physics major, was at an event put on by Eco-Reps, a network of environmentally concerned students, faculty and staff, on the UA Mall during Earth Hour.

He said the night sky was noticeably darker during Earth Hour when UA lights were extinguished.

“There was a big difference,” Turner said. “You could really tell.”

Tucson Electric Power Co. saw a decrease in consumption when Earth Hour began, but that cannot be solely attributed to the event, said Joe Salkowski, TEP spokesman.

Tucson-area TEP customers were using 1,008 megawatts at 8:25 p.m., which dropped to 1,001 megawatts 10 minutes later, Salkowski said.

Consumption dropped to 960 megawatts by 9:30 p.m., he said.

Electric consumption normally drops at that time of night, so the decrease cannot be fully attributed to Earth Hour, he said.

A megawatt is 1 million watts.

Greg Doppmann, who participated in the UA Mall star party, said he could not notice a big difference in his ability to see large celestial bodies such as the moon using his eyes during Earth Hour.

But the darker sky allows better telescope viewing.

“It allows you to see fainter stars that would otherwise be washed away by the background glow in the bright night sky,” said Doppmann, a research associate at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson.

Earth Hour, which started in Australia three years ago, has been observed two years in Tucson.

Event organizers said hundreds of millions of people around the world switched off their lights for one hour to mark the event.

Backers say Earth Hour saw increase in participants and activities

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