All over the world people will be turning off their lights at 8:30 p.m. on March 28 for one hour. The Monroe County Waste Management District (District) is urging Monroe County residents to turn off nonessential lights again this year and make a statement about climate change.

Over 50 million people worldwide turned off their lights last year as part of an initiative started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). This event is a call to action to increase awareness about climate change and to demonstrate that people from all over the world care about the issue and can take action.

Residents can also take action by picking up free earth care information now available in green bins at any of the District's four rural recycling sites. This information is also available upon request in the Administration Building at Central Recycling on 3400 S. Walnut St. In addition, residents can also join the Citizen's Advisory Committee that works on special environmental stewardship projects and advises the District and the District Board.

"Climate change is impossible to hide and ought to be impossible to ignore."

If you are asking "What can I do right now, in my home or community to make a difference?" there are many avenues open for everyone to make changes in their own energy use and influence others to do the same.

At each of the four rural sites, the District provides informational brochures on how to take action on a variety of environmental stewardship opportunities. The free information covers such topics as: Steps to Reduce Global Climate Change, how to compost, naturalizing lawns, what to do with yard waste, how to protect the water supply, creating rain gardens, grading your home for greenness and of course detailed brochures on what can be recycled at all District sites, and what can be brought to the Hazardous Materials Facility at Central Recycling & Reuse.

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Earth Hour is also a good opportunity for residents to change the type of lights they use in their houses to reduce carbon emissions. Changing lights to compact fluorescents also saves money by reducing energy use -- and the bulbs last longer. So, turning off the lights on March 28 and switching to compact fluorescents are ways to not only show concern about climate change but demonstrate commitment to finding solutions.

"Over 50 million people worldwide turned off their lights last year as part of an initiative started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)."

WWF reports that in 2008, "Over 50 million people, including an estimated 36 million in the U.S., representing over 400 cities on all seven continents, turned out their lights in the largest climate event of all time in 2008. In 2008 lights went out in some of the world's landmarks such as London's City Hall, New York's Empire State Building, Sears Tower in Chicago, the Golden Gate Bride in San Francisco, the Coliseum in Rome, the Sydney Opera House and were symbolized on the Google homepage.

We hope that individuals, businesses, governments and organizations in Monroe County join the world in turning off nonessential lights. Climate change is impossible to hide and ought to be impossible to ignore. Daily activities, such as reducing waste by being careful of what you purchase, using organic alternatives to products that produce hazardous waste, reusing as much as possible to keep items out of the landfill and recycling all help reduce climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that municipal solid waste landfills are the largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States contributing to smog and climate change. It is everyone's responsibility to reduce the emissions that are harmful to the earth. Climate change endangers all life on our planet and simple actions make a difference.

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The number one issue of the 21st century is climate change, and the United States is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, with nearly five times the world average in carbon emissions. However, it is possible for people to slow climate change before it becomes too dangerous to manage. We can do this by moving individuals, businesses and leaders towards responsible energy and environmental choices. This will help the ecosystems to resist and recover from the environmental stresses of climate change.

"The United States is one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, with nearly five times the world average in carbon emissions."

The District reminds residents that the Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Monroe County Waste Management District always welcomes new members. CAC is composed of concerned citizens in a variety of occupations who work on specific environmental issues and recommend policy for the District.

CAC is an opportunity to act locally and Earth Hour is an opportunity for the public to join a global movement, learn more about environmental issues, learn why you need to be concerned, and most importantly, to take action.

Contact Brenda Strauss at 349-2950 if you would like to join the Citizen's Advisory Committee. For more information on other earth care action steps, look for the green bins at the District's four rural sites or request the information from the Administration Building of Central Recycling. Call (area code) 349-2020 or visit ....

Remember, it's Earth Hour March 28. Turn off your lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and let your neighborhood know you're taking action to reduce climate change.

Elisa K. Pokral can be reached at epokral@mcswmd.org.