I’m leaving on Wednesday for Chicago to present a paper at the Renaissance Society of America conference. I’m looking forward to going since I’ll be meeting many friends that I haven’t seen in a while but for some reason I haven’t really looked into what’s to do and see in Chicago. I assume we’ll be spending a lot of time at the conference itself, which is at the Chicago Renaissance Hotel at the corner of State Street and Wacker Drive, but no doubt we’ll have some time to explore the city a bit.

Any suggestions? any restaurant I *must* go?

Earth Hour

earth hour

At 8:00 tonight we’ll be turning off all our lights in our support for Earth Hour and to express our concern over the environment. The point is to make people aware of energy conservation and carbon gas emission. According to the news, 240,000 people around the world have registered at the official site (Alan is one of them) but they estimate that as many as a million people in Toronto alone will mark the hour. Recent polls shows that 70% of Canadians plan to join.

Here in Toronto many of the local landmarks will go dark – CN Tower and the Eaton Centre will shut off its lights and even Niagara Falls will fade into the night. Air Canada has also expressed its full support and will be shutting down its lights across Canada.

I know that cynics will say it’s all marketing and popular manipulation, and that reputable scientists still argue whether global warming is really caused by men or whether it is simply a normal cyclical weather pattern. That may be. But I don’t think there’s any reasonable argument to defend waste of resources. Even if our pollution is not causing climate change, there’s little doubt that it is harmful to human & animal health and that our resources are finite. I believe in conservation for that reason alone.

We participated at a similar event last year when we were in Barcelona. We plan to snuggle on our couch, with maybe some candles on, and simply enjoy each other’s company for an hour.


Earth Hour came and went here in Toronto and we shut off our lights as promised. We then went outside to see the effects around the block. While there were many apartments with their lights still on, most of the corporate buildings downtown went dark and Dundas Square, usually illuminated like the main street in Las Vegas, was completely dark. The Bank of Montreal seem to be the only bank that kept its light on. The Rogers, the Manulife Centre, and The Bay were also off. It was cool although Alan was pretty disappointed that not everbody joined and there were still lots of apartments filled with lights.

In time – Chris Tindal wrote a really good article on the negative and positive sides of Earth Hour.

One highlight:

Maybe, just maybe, individuals and businesses—by going through an uncommon exercise in conservation—will realize all of the things they could be doing every day to reduce consumption. Businesses that have for the first time realized that they leave their copiers, computer monitors and lights running all weekend for no reason may see the cost benefit in turning them off from now on. Individuals who go through the exercise of trying to drop their energy consumption to near-zero may realize for the first time that they’re unnecessarily paying to have vampires suck energy out of their walls all day and all night long. In doing so, we move beyond tokenism, and towards a real movement.