The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

13 March 2008

Earth hour

It all started with a question: How can we inspire people to take action on climate change?

This was the answer: Ask the people of Sydney to turn off their lights for one hour.

On 31st March 2007 at 7.30pm the citizens of Sydney (Australia) switched off their electricity for one hour to show that they cared about global warming. Other communities in other parts of Australia and across the world did the same thing at the same time as a show of solidarity.

In Sydney, 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for Earth Hour. This collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for this one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year. Sydney icons like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House turned their lights off, and people undertook some quite imaginative events in the dark.

What people did during Earth Hour: When the lights went down in Sydney for Earth Hour, the best place to be was with friends and family, or at a celebration that you or somebody else organised specially.

These were all suggested: Get your neighbours together for a BBQ or head out to your local park for the hour. Take some binoculars and look at the stars. Or just go for a stroll. Talk with your family and friends about the state of our planet and the need to make a change to keep the place we live the way we need it to be. Do something non-electric as a family – have a picnic or a have a candlelit dinner – but most importantly enjoy!

And these were some of the events that people actually organised:
• a wedding by candlelight
• a beach performance of mainly environmental songs by The Ramblers
• celebrating a move to a new house with a housewarming party in the dark
• a barbeque by candlelight
• stargazing
• yoga by candlelight
• a torchlit treasure hunt
• speed dating by candlelight (romantic and you don’t get too good a view of your partner)
• Scrabble by candlelight
• a neighbourly moonlit stroll

Earth Hour 2007 was a Sydney event. Earth Hour 2008 will be a global event. It will take place on March 29th at 8.00pm. So far 112,409 people and 7,104 businesses have signed up to do something (as of 13th March), and more are signing up every hour.

On the website, you can sign up, and you can then send this to others to alert them to Earth Hour...

Hey, I just signed up to the new Earth Hour website for 2008 and I thought you might like to take a look and possibly sign up too. Earth Hour is on 29 March 2008 at 8pm, and it looks like it's going to be really big. So far, as well as Sydney, there'll also be Chicago, Tel Aviv, Manila, Copenhagen, Melbourne, Brisbane and Toronto all turning off their lights for an hour in the name of fighting global warming. And I'm sure there'll be more cities by March. Sign up for Earth Hour with me by visiting and join the movement.

Remember too that 20th March 2008 (Spring solstice in the Northern hemisphere) is International Earth Day. This is a day to pledge to live on the planet as a responsible citizen and to do what we can to make it better for everyone:

There is another Earth Day on 22nd April 2008:

Find out why there are two Earth Days at:

Celebrate both!

Locked-in Syndrome

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the book written by Jean-Dominique Bauby describing the last months of his life after a massive stroke which resulted in locked-in syndrome. This means that the sufferer loses virtually all bodily movement, whilst retaining full mental faculties. Jean-Do had been Editor-in-Chief at Elle magazine in Paris and found himself after a 20 day coma in a ventilator and being fed by an IV drip (like being trapped in a “diving bell”) whilst his mind was alert and fluttering (like a “butterfly”).

Jean-Do wrote his book by blinking his eyelid (one eye had been sewn up as it was not lubricating properly). A secretary pointed to letters on a board, and one blink was a “No” and two a “Yes”. Thus the words were laboriously spelled out until the book was complete. Jean-Do had had his accident in December 1995, and his book was published in February 1997 about a week before he died. The book became a best seller, and has now been made into an award-winning film directed by the artist Julian Schabel.

Read the book and see the film. The last year of Jean-Do’s life is an inspiration which also gives a real insight into the life and meaning of life of someone whose mind is still alert but whose body is locked in.

Jen-Do founded the Association for Locked in Syndrome from his bed, as a way of communicating information about this quite rare condition, but also to enable sufferers to share their thoughts.

Read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
Check out Association for Locked-In Syndrome:

Nick Chisholm has lived with locked-in syndrome since 2000. Read his account which is interspersed with information on his condition and a commentary on the clinical and ethical issues that arise in locked-in syndrome. It starts…

I had my accident on the rugby field on 29 July 2000 about 2 00 pm, just before the ball was thrown into a line-out. It just felt like a simple case of concussion (everything went blurry). I staggered to the sideline, the coach asked me "What's wrong"?

After six days of going in and out of seizures, after what seemed like all the tests known to man, they said I had had several strokes of the brain stem and then one major one, which left me with the extremely rare condition known as locked-in syndrome, not able to do anything.

I talk by using a transparent Perspex board (about A2 size) with the letters of the alphabet spaced out on it (identically on both sides). The person holds it up between our eyes (about 800 mm apart). I spell out each letter of my sentence using my eyes (similar to a typewriter), with the other person guessing each letter I'm starring at, until I've spelled out a whole sentence—extremely laborious! It's also very difficult (almost impossible) to express yourself or be sarcastic.