GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

March 23, 2013

The Mayor's Desk: Being part of global 'earth' movement

The Mayor's Desk
Carolyn Kirk

---- — This week we celebrate some earth moments, hours, and years. Let me explain.

“Earth Hour” is a global initiative that started six years ago in Australia. Everyone across the globe is “dared to save the planet” by symbolically turning off the lights at one time for one hour.

This year’s event takes place tonight at 8:30 p.m., and Gloucester City Hall will join the movement by turning off the lights on City Hall tower for one hour. Everyone in the city is encouraged to participate by turning off their lights as well.

The event has grown into the single largest environmental movement in the world and represents much more than a moment in time. It is an annual touchstone that fosters change and unites the world’s population around a future based on sustainable energy and environmental protection.

If you Google the event from around the world as communities participate – from London to New Delhi to Taipei to Kuala Lumpur – you will see amazing photos as the lights are turned off for an hour. The city of Gloucester is proud to participate for the first time this year.

Earth “moments” take place every single day in Gloucester High School. Recently, the Department of Public Works installed new water bubblers in the school.

There are traditional fixtures but the bubblers also feature a fixture for easily filling a student’s own bottle. There is a counter that keeps track of the number of plastic bottles that have been avoided by filling one’s own bottle at the bubbler rather than by purchasing bottled water in disposable plastic containers.

As of yesterday, the bubbler read-out stated that Gloucester High School students have helped eliminate waste from 25,460 disposable plastic bottles from their use of the bubbler to fill their own container! The few moments it takes to fill a container has a big impact on avoiding waste from plastic bottles which is one of earth’s stubborn pollutants.

And of course, the introduction of wind turbines on our skyline is a demonstration of the community’s commitment to clean energy for years to come. Like participating in Earth Hour and avoiding plastic bottle waste at Gloucester High School, they are another reminder of what we do as a city to create a future that is sustainable, efficient and most importantly, clean.

This week, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library will host a panel discussion followed by Q&A on the wind turbines. The program will be held this Thursday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m., in the Sawyer Free Library. Any resident who is curious about the turbines and the impact they have on Gloucester is encouraged to attend. Fun facts and little known technical secrets of the wind turbines will be shared.

The group will include a principal from a renewable energy company who will share results of studies that guided placement of the municipal turbines and why our community is blessed with abundant wind resources. We also will be joined by the CEO of the general contracting company which erected the municipal turbines and is an all-around guru in the area of turbine operations.

A representative from Varian, now Applied Materials, will join the panel and talk about the private initiative and rationale that began nine years ago, and I will share information about the city’s participation along with the financial benefits.

There is a growing global community that is taking action to ensure a sustainable future.

As the city of Gloucester, we’re proud to do our part in many earth moments, hours and years.

Carolyn Kirk is mayor of the city of Gloucester.