Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

If you plan on doing Earth Hour

Earth Hour this year is Saturday, March 28th from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, where participants are urged to turn off all their lights for an hour as a show of support against global warming. These sorts of events oftentimes seem like an empty gesture to me that tend to have far too many commercial interests.

Sure, they get people excited and make them feel like they are participating in a global movement, but the overall impact is fairly minimal, particularly given the fact that the majority of participants end up burning paraffin candles instead. The end result is that Earth Hour burns more CO2 than keeping one low-watt CFL bulb burning instead.

Here's the trade-off: if you get your electricity from green sources (wind, hydro, solar, etc.), switching over to a seemingly innocuous candle is a bit of mental legerdemain. Are the candles 100% beeswax or soy with a 100% cotton wick? Or are they the cheaper paraffin (fossil fuel) kind? Do they burn cleanly or do they actually contribute to increased carbon dioxide emissions?

For those of you not intimately knowledgeable about standard paraffin candles, paraffin is essentially hydrocarbon, or a heavy alkane fraction distilled straight from crude oil. Even if 80% of your electricity comes from coal and fossil fuel fired power stations, burning candles is very polluting and certainly very greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide emissions intensive, even more so than electric lighting. In other words, for every paraffin candle that is burned to replace electric lighting during Earth Hour, greenhouse gas emissions over the course of the one hour are increased by 9.8 g of carbon dioxide.

Beeswax candles, on the other hand, can be considered "carbon neutral" in the sense that, even though it produces carbon dioxide when burned, it’s carbon that is naturally cycled through the ecospheric carbon cycle - not from fossil fuel.

So, if you are doing Earth Hour, stock up on beeswax candles if you really want to make a statement. Another alternative is a hand-crank or solar lantern. Or, you can just hang out in the dark and enjoy yourself with other, more carbon neutral activities.

Are you going to do Earth Hour this year and what kind of alternative lighting will be used, if any?

50 comments:

Kelli said...

We gave up night-time lighting for Lent - till the end of April. Our household is large, and we didn't want to risk candles in bedrooms so we each have a wind-up flashlight for personal use and we use one oil lamp in the common room. So far it's been interesting...

Sandy said...

Thanks for promoting Earth Hour! Another way you can recruit people to the cause is by creating a Earth Hour group on Commit21.com. Simply create a group about one action that you will commit to do for Earth Hour and recruit your friends, family, and co-workers to get involved in that action as well. When it comes to climate change, simple actions can make huge differences and Commit21 leverages social media to influence networks of friends, family, and co-workers. Check it out at www.commit21.com

Eco Yogini said...

Were you promoting Earth hour? lol.

I had no idea the exact amount of carbon dioxide emissions from a paraffin wax candle. Very interesting!

I think that one hour isn't enough. How about no lights for the entire day/evening?

Speaking of lighting- what about soy candles? I have beeswax and soy and I'm still a little confused as to which is better- thoughts?

The Purloined Letter said...

For about a year now, we've had a special "power free" family evening once a week. We use hand-dipped and hand-decorated beeswax candles (which are lots of fun to make) as much as possible. When we are low on our own stuff, we pick up beeswax candles at the farmer's market.

While we are under no illusions that we're actually making a difference by this act, it seems to us that it gives us time to appreciate that living without sometimes gives us something greater--in this case, connection to each other and awareness of a not-so-human controlled world.

Keeping our buns cold or sweating does the same thing. When it is cold, it is cold. When it is hot, it is hot. When it is dark, it is dark. There is something tangibly authentic and humbling about recognizing this fact.

Anonymous said...

8.30 to 9.30?! I'll be in bed, and my house will be dark. After 5 months suffering with an infant that refused to sleep, now that she does, our entire household goes to bed early. Of course, we rise early too. And I agree with you, one hour? Come on, we're gonna have to do better than that.

Healing Green said...

All our lights are off during that time already. We watch a movie each night, that's our TV for the day... I always thought it would be more impressinve tostart earth hour at 6 or 7 -- in the winter, not spring!

I like the no light for lent post -- great idea!

Alyclepal said...

Consider oil lanterns made with an acceptable veggie, olive, or other food oil. My candle may burn for 3 hrs but a half inch of food oil, a piece of cotton for a wick from a mop or string, a recycled jar, and a strand of old wire for the wickstand will get a good 40 hrs of use. The down side is it smells good and may cause snacking:>.

Emily said...

I'm doing the One Stone Carbon Challenge from now until May 1 (and probably beyond) instead of just one hour on March 28th. There are a bunch of activities calculated to save one stone (i.e., 14 pounds) of carbon emissions. If you save 157 stones, you've prevented a tonne of carbon from entering the atmosphere.

My goal is to save one stone a day. If I can do that for a year, that's 2 tonnes of carbon saved!

Tara said...

I won't be participating, at least not in the conventional way. I think it's a nice idea, but I think an hour in the evening is just a token, and if we're going to do it, we should really be going for much more. I appreciate the comments here - I also like the "no nighttime lights during lent" idea, as well as the power-free evening once a week. Might have to put that one into practice!

Bucky said...

I'm afraid that I seem to be missing something here.

As a means to stop carbon emissions, this is completely ridiculous. Earth Hour! might work as a marketing / awareness ploy, but will do nothing in terms of of greenhouse gas production (unless someone is actually producing their own electricity and can go into the backyard shed and shut down the generator).

Just because you turn your lights off for an hour doesn't mean that the big bad electric utility isn't still burning coal and gas to use the electricity you aren't using. The system just doesn't work that way.

The utility's goal is to produce just enough electricity at any given moment so that everyone has what they want but not more than that because that wastes fuel and money. In reality, the utility companies always produce excess energy. They have gotten very good at predicting grid loads to meet expected and usual demand.

Turning off your lights for an hour will do nothing in terms of electricity produced. Even if the utility company realized that there would be less demand during this ONE hour, it still wouldn't matter as it takes time to shut down and then ramp back up the massive generators that produce our electricity.

Turning on or off your light might happen at the flick of a switch, but generating the electricity to power that light doesn't happen that fast or easily.

The only way to reduce carbon emissions is to consistently reduce demand over a period of time.

So ... count me in the Earth Hour! is a big steaming load of horse shit and we should be spending our time doing most anything else.

Laura said...

No power(less) hour for me, thanks. I have bigger mercury filled fish to fry. Didn't we used to have a whole day devoted to the earth? Wasn't it called something like ... Earth Day!? One little ol' hour seems like we are going back instead of taking huge strides forward.

@ Sandy, I'm glad you're promoting what you see as a green idea. Here is some feedback from someone who has just visited your website and not signed up. The website you linked to seems flimsy and void of any real content. Neither the website nor your blog (first post in November 2008?), not even JustMeans, have been around very long (I show 2007), which makes me suspicious that you are just jumping on the green bandwagon and don't really have any new content or ideas to offer. I suggest that you become a champion of the many organizations that are already in place instead of adding yet another social networking website to the mix. Kudos again for your enthusiasm, I hope that you direct it in a more productive way.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Bucky - Thanks for helping to promote Earth Hour!

One way I'm going to incite people to the cause is by stating one action right now that I will commit to do for Earth Hour and will recruit my friends, family, and co-workers to get involved in that action as well.

Hmmmm.... let me think. What's it going to be? Well, since it will be dark, this is safe! I'm going to run around the front and back yard, naked from the waist down and pee on all my nitrogen deprived plants.

To spice things up I may wear a waist chain made out of solar charged flashing LED lights so you can see the project in action. Way to go Earth Hour!

Anyway, yeah, thanks. I forgot about that whole pesky on-demand electricity thing.

stella said...

It's a Saturday night, and we're never home at that time, so the one hour without light at that time is not really applicable. I think it would be better if it were an hour when people are home, and when there is already natural light. Try preparing a raw dinner during sunset and use the natural light on a Wednesday night! That would be more of a challenge than 8:30 on a weekend evening.

Farmer's Daughter said...

CC- That makes me think of a river rafting trip I took with my family in college. One night, there was a thunderstorm and we realized with each flash of lightning that we could see a man from our group running around trying to fix his tent in nothing but a head lamp. I suggest you wear a head lamp.

As for earth hour, I just realized that we invited over some friends for dinner that night... maybe we'll introduce them to the concept then? Hang on guys, gotta turn out the lights for the Earth! I know it's cold in here already, but now it will be dark, too!

As if they didn't already think we're strange. At least we're already friends (for now).

Bucky said...

Doing what I can to help from my own little corner of the planet, Crunchy "Night Streaker" Chicken.

As for you plan to save electricity by running around half naked in your yard, you need to take into account all the energy used up by neighbors flashlights and video cameras, along with the gas the police will use when they are sent over to investigate the crazed lady peeing all over everything.

And I'm assuming that in preparation for your solar LED powered hour of fanciful night time gardening you will be using manual scissors instead of electric clippers to trim the, ahhhh, "shrubs" in preparation for your exposed moment of giving it your all for the environment.

Not to mention the HUGE carbon load from my flight from Houston and back to watch the entire thing because that sounds too effing funny and I could really use a good belly laugh right now!

I really hate to be Bitchy Bucky about this (well .. kinda at least), but these sorts of things like Earth Hour! never make much sense to me. Perhaps it is the beginning of awareness for a few people, which would be a good thing. Mostly it seems to make people feel that they have accomplished something when they really haven't instead of directing their well-intentioned energy into something actually worthwhile.

Tara said...

Bucky, I completely agree. I think it just allows people to pat themselves on the back and think they're off the hook, without having made any real sacrifice.

Pampered Mom said...

I don't think anyone expects that "Earth Hour" is going to make a *huge* difference in carbon emissions, but I would suspect that for some folks it might help encourage other changes. As for us...we're all headed to bed early that night. We use very little electricity as it is (our biggest usage in the last year and a half has been around 450kwh). While it won't make a difference in what my utility company does, a few less kwh in March will be great for my bill!

Condo Blues said...

I planned to turn out all of the lights for Earth Hour and make out like a bandit with my husband. You know, for the planet. :)

scifichick said...

We will be participating in the Earth Hour. To me it's not about the actual savings or not, but about bringing awareness. Sure, there is a lot of commercialism around it, but the message needs to be spread somehow. I'm not sure yet what we will be doing during this time, so I'm not sure if we'll need any lighting. If we will need light, we will be burning paraffin candles, perhaps one or two. I have some that I bought years ago, and I'm still slowly going through them. I think that throwing them out would be more of a waste and negative impact than burning them. Any new candles we will be buying would be beeswax.

Bucky said...

Damn, CondoB, I'd just now decided to participate in Earth Hour! and that's exactly what I was planning on doing ... turning out all the lights and making out with your husband. ;)

But if that is what you are going to be doing, it somehow just seems wrong to me now. :(

Oy.

Must rethink my plan ...

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

ya know, last year i really promoted earth hour and think that the concept is a good one if it gets ppl to do something for more than just one hour. i guess i see that as the point of it, to take the one hour event and use it as a spring board for doing much, much more for the planet. i don't know how many ppl bother doing any more than just turning off their lights for a night, but i know i inspired a few ppl last year to live greener lives, so that seems worth it to me.
on the other hand, i can see how it also could just be a feel good/yay, i'm doing something/marketing ploy too, but i'm not sure who is benefiting.
i've yet to decide how to go about blogging about it this year. based on my current attitude, i'm likely to be a bit more cynical about it than last year, but we'll see.
FTR, i really like the idea of running around your yard naked w/ a headlamp on. be sure to post pics. :)

Crunchy Chicken said...

Bucky - Looks like it's going to be scissors since I don't have solar-rechargeable batteries for my personal hedge-trimmer.

If you people taunt me enough, I just might do it. Hell, my kids would think it's the greatest thing ever since they've decided that any hour, Earth Hour or not, is appropriate for "naked time".

I already have the head lamp...

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oooh, I could name my competing event as Earth Shower!. "Sprinkling for the good of the planet."

But, I'm not sure I'll be able to last outside the whole hour, it's still pretty cold out and I don't want frostbitten bits. Maybe if I drink a few gallons of liquids in preparation, my steamy sprinkling will keep me toasty.

I can't wait!

Farmer's Daughter said...

Why do I always end up reading something sexual or potty talk here? (Is that why I keep coming back?)

And when is Greenpa going to weigh in on this???

Maureen said...

Thanks for the info on the beeswax vs. paraffin candles, I never knew what paraffin meant, because it is always marketed as the "fancier, better" candle in the stores. As for Earth Hour!, I've personally been participating in turning the lights off for an hour per day for years, every night in my house from around 11pm - 7am I have no lights on or electronics (unless the bread maker's running)!

Bucky said...

Crunchers, I think that would be "Earth Shower! Tinkling for the Good of the Planet."

Crunchy Chicken said...

Abbie - Those are good questions. Greenpa is probably "busy" doing whatever it is that he does all day long.

Bucky - That is a much improved tag line.

Robj98168 said...

Suppose I will break out the solar lights. Or my batterie operated led candles- oops-no - How about my solar powered rechargeble batteries lantern?

Robj98168 said...

Greenpa is building a chicken cellar or something. LOL crunchy is gonna be butt-chicken nekkid peeing on her plants! Don't worry Crunchy I will probably unzipp my manhood and pee along!

Crunchy Chicken said...

It looks like Greenpa is busy making out with llamas and watching alpaca porn. Figures.

Bucky said...

Robj:

That zipper on your manhood is a little disturbing. You might want to see someone about that.

Anonymous said...

Bucky said...

"I'm afraid that I seem to be missing something here."

Call me crazy, but what if someone from Earth Hour/WWF were to actually SPEAK TO THE POWER COMPANIES beforehand and get them to reduce their output for 60 minutes to coincide with the event?

Imagine that!

Loser...

Megan said...

Crunchy, I was actually thinking about Earth Hour-type things recently.

I agree that I think it's often a marketing awareness-raising ploy. The problem is that you need a lot of focus on what to do AFTER earth hour. People I think would find it too easy to think that they've "done their bit" in that hour, and don't feel that they need to do much else. I think changing light bulbs and not using plastic bags can lull people into that same sense of security.

Have you considered doing a no-flights-for-a-year pledge? That's bound to save WAY more emissions than the cloth wipe challenge, although it might be less fun. Or no car for a month? Or a look-into-jobs-that-don't-have-a-commute day?

I love your site and it always gets me thinking, but I'm wondering if the bar needs to be a bit higher for people.

Bucky said...

@Anon

Call me crazy, but what if someone from Earth Hour/WWF were to actually SPEAK TO THE POWER COMPANIES beforehand and get them to reduce their output for 60 minutes to coincide with the event?

Imagine that!



Hey there Crazy! Nice to meet you.

Okay, I'm squeezing my eyes shut really, really hard and I'm imagining someone coordinating with the power companies ... imagining ... imagining squeezing my eyes harder ... imagining ...

Nope. I tried imagining that it would make a difference, Crazy. I promise I did. But no matter how much I imagined, it still didn't change the basic laws of physics. Maybe I need an extra big sprinkle of magic Earth Hour! fairy dust?

Crazy, I thought that I had explained this in my original comment, but perhaps I wasn't clear enough. So I'll try again.

You see, Crazy, our electricity is produced by these very, very big generators. Ginormous. Bigger than your house! Way bigger. Most of these very big generators are powered by burning some type of fossil fuel (mostly coal in the US, with natural gas a distant second).

It is possible, Crazy, that you think of these power plants as somewhat akin to the little gas powered generators that you buy from Home Depot. Don't. That would be, well, just crazy!

The power plants that the utility companies build are big complicated systems. They require precise temperatures and pressures. It's all very complicated and requires science and hard stuff like that. But trust me on this.

So, Crazy, because it is a large complicated system that is finely tuned to operate at peak efficiency within a narrow set of parameters, it can't be quickly shut down and then turned back on. Seems crazy doesn't it? But that's just how it is, with all that complicated science and stuff.

I know, Crazy, that one whole entire hour might seem like a really, really long time in magic Earth Hour! fairy land, but in the real world of power generation it just isn't.

If it was Earth Day! or even Earth Afternoon! that might work. But just one hour, even with that extra nifty exclamation point, isn't going to make a bit of difference to your local power company. Even if you did call them beforehand to alert them to your impending very serious hour of saving the planet.

But I do hope you will call them to alert them, Crazy. I'd really love to be listening on the line when they answer the phone and you start out by saying, "Hello, I'm Crazy..."

Crazy? Why yes you are!

Irma said...

I will definitely be doing Earth Hour. Last year, I did in fact use my regular, paraffin candles...but I was a noob then, don't be hatin', I just didn't know better! Since that time, I have begun making my own beeswax candles, so I will use those instead. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

It is not about saving energy, it is about sending a strong signal to politcal leaders in this year of the Copenhagen deal that there is public support for a strong global agreement; at the moment they are frightened it might make them unpopular

Greenpa said...

Alpaca porn, eh? Actually, I was researching the various aspects of "fleece".

In preparation for our big Happy Earth Hour here, Crunchy has volunteered to come and lead a pole dancing challenge, up on my Polka Dot Gallows.

Bottomless, of course, in keeping with the fleece theme, and with her chits available. All murkily lit by solar powered LEDs.

Just a little promo teaser for our big Picnic for the Planet bonfire, on June 21.

Thanks, Your Dampness! :-)

eatclosetohome said...

thanks for the levity, everyone...I needed that...

Jenette said...

I am going to use some edible soy candles I found ;)

Bucky said...

WOW.

Just got in and if the emails in my inbox are any indication, people take their Earth Hour! very, very seriously.

[Lilly -- Back off bitch. You've got issues. Seek help.]

For the record: I don't hate the earth. And I adore Ms. C. Chicken. And I don't work for some utility company hell-bent on destroying the planet. I know that climate change is real and serious. I don't eat small children for breakfast. And I don't get paid for promoting the interests of big oil.

Calm down people.

I just don't get the "Vote Earth" thing being promoted through the Earth Hour!. I don't understand what it is trying to accomplish beyond one hour of darkness.

I'm like that.

To me, it seems like much sturm und drang that doesn't accomplish much. But I'm very happy that others are excited and hope that it will raise awareness of the problems we face.

I like to imagine that Ms. Chicken's readers are an enlightened group and don't need their awareness raised much. One of the things that I've always deeply admired about Ms. C is that she puts words into actions and forces people to step up. Her accomplishments are legend. And if she thinks that Earth Hour! is important, perhaps I need to rethink my position. And if everyone is excited by Earth Hour! then by all means enjoy yourselves.

But please, just leave your desire to cut off my testicles out of the angry emails.

The boys are rather sensitive about such things.

Much appreciated.

Bux

Crunchy Chicken said...

Buckster - Who needs testicles these days anyway? I've lived my whole life without them and it hasn't affected me at all.

Aside from the whole power company / electrical shutdown issue, I don't get this "vote" thing. I understand the visibility of large buildings in NYC turning off their lights, but are the promoters going to be comparing satellite photos of Friday vs. Saturday vs. Sunday to see how many people "voted" by turning off their lights?

Should I expect Santa to fly through the neighborhoods from East to West, checking on the lighting situation. And, will Santa confuse my yard waste bonfire in the fireplace as being a CFL, a halogen, an LED or an incandescant?

Or should I really trim up the shrubs in preparation for Edward Norton, as the official Earth Hour Ambassador, stopping by to check on my lighting choices? If I'm going to get an official visit, I'll make sure to stick to urinating in the front yard only to make sure I don't miss him. That would be a travesty.

Greenpa - I'm not sure I can justify flying out to the midwest even though my pole dancing skills are quite extraordinary and I really could teach you people a thing or two.

dominiquehind said...

The new Vote Earth 2009 global website has launched. There is an element on the site that incorporates Google’s Friend Connect and we want to get 1 billion people on the site by November before Copenhagen. A big ask, so we need some help.

To get involved, all you need to do is:
1. Go to the site - www.voteearth2009.org
2. Register with Friend Connect
3. Send to a friend and get more people to sign up.

We need to get as many people as we can involved. So please encourage your friends to get involved.

Get involved and VOTE EARTH!

Willa said...

You know, if I were someone just coming to the idea of conserving energy, and I was excited about my first venture into activism, turning off my lights for an hour- I would certainly feel soundly spanked and put in my place by many of you. I might, in fact, feel like I was really stupid to think that something I could do right now could make a difference of any kind. And I might just go away feeling depressed, and powerless.

So it's a flawed idea- not everyone is in the same place, and if this could be a springboard to greater activism, how can it hurt?

Laura said...

Well written comment, Willa. :) I disagree. It can hurt because we just don't have time to waste on empty, feel good action. If this were the 70's and people were doing Earth Hour, I'd say more power(hee!) to ya. But it's years later and we have yet to truly change our ways. It can hurt because the people/organizations/companies who are promoting events like this should know better.

I have felt soundly spanked, put in my place, depressed, horrified, defenseless, ignorant, lagging behind in knowledge and skills many times reading many different blogs, articles and books. I still go on and do my best. Other will too. :) That is, they will if we have any chance at weathering the enviroshitstorm at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,

The reason we do Earth Hour, if you look more closely at www.earthhour.org, is not to save energy for one hour.

WWF and all involved are more than aware that an hour - even 1 billion people doing it for an hour - won't save enough coal-powered electricity to save the planet. That's the point!

The point is that not enough people are doing enough on a daily basis. The point is that stronger action needs to be taken!

Governments and companies around the world aren't making large-scale change and neither are everyday people.. EARTH HOUR IS A WAY TO SEND A MESSAGE THAT WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING URGENTLY. That governments and industry need to start reducing their emissions and offering products and services that help us to reduce ours.

Just check these out and tell me you really don't want to turn your lights out this Saturday.

Vote Earth

I'm Just One Person

Even the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supports the Earth Hour effort because he believes that public support will be the only way that the talks in Copenhagen will lead to a fair, effective and meaningful deal.

Earth Hour is about all of us, coming together, and voting for a healthy planet - and against global warming in time for it to make a difference.

Please! Vote Earth with us.

Bucky said...

Anon:

I'm afraid that I still don't understand. I'm slow that way. How will the people in Copenhagen know that I've turned out my lights? I can't find anything on the web site to explain this.

I'm all for sending a message. Just not sure that this is the best way. Or even a way.

However, let me say that I am all for everyone turning out their lights on the 28th as it is my birthday and I've convinced the boy child that people all over the world are turning out their lights for an hour to wish me happy birthday. ;-) I'm calling it Bucky Hour!. Although much like Earth Hour! I'll have no way of knowing if anyone does it or not.

Bucky said...

Anon:

One last question for you -- how exactly do I Vote Earth? Do I need to register? Is Earth running unopposed or can I Vote Mars or Vote Saturn too? Does Earth have a policy platform? I want to know where exactly where Earth stands on the important issues of the day. Does Earth have any thoughts on the financial problems we are in now? Is Earth planning on going on Leno anytime soon?

Vote Earth is a nice little marketing line, but that's about it. Sorry to all of you who are excited by this but it completely escapes me. This seems to be little more than just a lot of bustle that accomplishes absolutely nothing. Worse, it might give one billion (!) people the idea that they've actually accomplished something. That's bad because people are lazy and busy and if they think they've already done their part for Earth with their "vote" they are less likely, not more, to take actual action that might bring real change.

One billion people turning off their lights for an hour is just one hour of darkness. One quarter billion people writing letters to their elected officials would send a strong message.

Color me concerned, but I much prefer the challenges here on the Chickenista web site where Crunchonella asks everyone to actually DO something important and lasting. Those challenges change behavior. One hour doesn't.

Crow said...

I was just planning to take a nap for an hour, with the reduced lighting I think that would be a bit easier.

Amy said...

I like the idea of world wide solidarity, as well as the WWF plans to take the final numbers to the next climate hearings as a global response to climate change is decided. The WWF is attempting to created a spectacle. We the citizens of the planet do care.

See the video:
Alanis Morissette clips toenails for Earth Hour http://www.examiner.com/x-4002-Milwaukee-Green-Living-Examiner~y2009m3d16-Alanis-Morissette-clips-toenails-for-Earth-Hour

Cogito said...

KENSINGTON'S EARTH HOUR ENDS IN TRAGEDY


Earth Hour was observed last night throughout Maryland when residents turned their house lights off for one hour to "vote for the Earth" by saving electricity. But events took a tragic turn in Kensington when residents there went one step further and turned their car lights off as well.

Described by officials as the largest series of multiple vehicle accidents in Maryland history, collisions involving as many as five cars at a time were reported at intersections throughout the city. There were also a number of collisions with houses, caused when vehicles ran off the road into nearby homes. At last report there were several injuries, none of them critical, but no fatalities.

Kensington's volunteer fire department has received assistance from other fire departments in the area to control the numerous fires caused by the accidents. Fire Chief Ned Spaekely reported this morning that he expected all the fires would be extinguished or under control by the evening. He indicated that his department would be applying for federal funding to repair or replace the four firetrucks that were damaged by collisions with fervent Earth Hour celebrants.

Damage to homes and businesses in the city was extensive, with Kensington's "Antique Row" taking the brunt of the night's destruction. "It's a total loss," said mayor Pete Fosselman, whose own home in town was almost totally destroyed by an off road collision with a Chevy Suburban.
"I think that next year, we'll just stick with the street banners," he said.

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