Today is the day or better the hour. Earth Hour. At 8.30 pm, individuals, cities and villages, as well as companies all over the world, turn off the light. This year, Earth Hour focuses on virtual events due to the ongoing pandemic. Nevertheless, each one of us can still help to put a spotlight on nature loss and the climate crisis. However, does it even make an impact in the grander scheme of things when we turn off our lights for one hour in a 365-day long year (one year has 8760 hours)? The short answer to this question is yes. Let’s take a closer look at the long answer and how Earth Hour helps to spread awareness and inspires action for the environment.
Earth Hour first started on the 31st of March in 2007 with the first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia where more than 2.2 million people switched off their lights for one hour. With this approach, the people of Australia wanted to show their climate-sceptic government that they were concerned about climate change. Fast forward to two years later and Earth Hour was already on its way to becoming the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment. Since then, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) holds Earth Hour every year on the last Saturday of March from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm in peoples local time zones.
Despite the difficult times due to the coronavirus pandemic, Earth Hour 2020 proved to be bigger than ever with 190 countries and territories taking part and over 4.7 billion global social media impressions. The movement is an open-source platform and welcomes everyone, anywhere to take part in it and help protect the planet. The WWF uses Earth Hour to spread more awareness of natures dire state, but it also supports crowdfunding initiatives. Thanks to the help of WWF, half a million trees have been planted in Uganda to protest the deforestation of ecosystems across the globe and a bill in Russia that focuses on protecting the country’s seas from oil pollution was pushed through congress with over 120,000 signatures.
Following a successful Earth Hour campaign, the Galápagos Islands – a UNESCO World Heritage site – became the first province in Ecuador to ban plastic bags and other disposable packaging. WWF-Spain’s Earth Hour campaign led to 50,000 citizens urging the Spanish government to phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewables to uphold its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. Earth Hour itself also has a significant, measurable impact that can be recorded in power grids. During 2013’s Earth Hour, Toronto recorded a 205-megawatt reduction, equivalent to 92,000 homes off the grid. Another example is Bangkok, which recorded a 1,699-megawatt reduction, eliminating roughly 1,073 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Earth Hour is accessible for everyone
What makes Earth Hour so successful is also its accessibility. It’s very easy to join and no equipment is needed. People can also be a part of it without putting a lot of effort into it. Unlike with most Fridays For Future protests – pre-pandemic of course – you don’t even need to leave your bedroom to participate in Earth Hour. Just turn off the lights and you’re good to go. As one of the biggest global movements for the environment, Earth Hour promotes action, creates awareness for nature and the planet and it brings people together.
What is also very important is that we can directly see the impact that Earth Hour has in our homes, cities, and countries. Each year, countless cities turn off the lights of their streets, buildings, landmarks, and city skylines, like the Empire State Building in New York, the Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong or the Pyramids of Egypt. While global warming or the disappearance of species for example are happening around the globe, most of us can’t visually see it happening right in front of our own eyes. You will however be able to directly experience the difference between Earth Hour and every other hour of the year.
A post-covid scenario
While for this Earth Hour people mainly connect virtually, we shouldn’t forget that hopefully in the upcoming years we will be able to celebrate it together again. Highlighting the importance of Earth Hour in the post-Covid scenario, Mr Ravi Singh, Secretary-General and CEO of WWF India said, “This Earth Hour, I would encourage citizens to Speak Up for Nature and lend their support as we strive for a greener, sustainable and a healthier planet.”
Learn more about Earth Hour on their website and don’t forget to participate by turning your lights off at 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm.
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