Have you heard about the hour in March where the entire world goes dark? All the lights get switched off, the laptops get powered down and the candles come out to play.
It’s called Earth Hour. Earth Hour began in 2006 and has been growing ever since. This year, with 135+ countries and hundreds of millions of people participating, it’s destined to be better than ever.
Earth Hour was born in Sydney, Australia as a way for Sydney residents to show their support for climate change action. The following year, 2.2 million individuals and 2,000 businesses in Sydney turned out their lights for one hour. In 2008, Earth Hour planned to reach the whole of Australia, but then Toronto, Canada had signed up and before they knew it 35 different countries and 400 cities and towns were raising their hands to be part of the event. The invitation to turn off the lights was soon extended to everyone, becoming an annual global event.
Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for people to become aware of their electricity consumption and to be inspired to become more sustainable.
Each year power companies have reported seeing a dramatic decrease in power consumption during earth hour, showing that switching off electrical appliances, even for 60 minutes, really makes a difference.
This year, the founders of Earth Hour, World Wildlife Fund, are encouraging people to go beyond the one hour by changing their habits for the long term. By always remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room, powering down your laptop at night and unplugging chargers from the wall when they’re not in use, you can make a significant difference.
It’s quite possible some of your most treasured memories from your childhood and from your family vacations involve spending time in the great outdoors. Mine certainly do. I have memories of long days at the beach, climbing hills, skiing down the perfect slopes, sailing on crystal lakes and walking through rainforests. I want my great-great-grandchildren to be able to enjoy these natural wonders as I have, but unfortunately I don’t know if they will!
The threat of carbon emissions is becoming critical and it seems climate change can’t be ignored any more. I personally have started to notice it more over the past few years. Around the globe earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and tornados are becoming more common. New York had a warm winter and summer appears to have come early, while New Zealand had a cold and wet summer. Icebergs float break away from Antarctica and float up past New Zealand.
Earth Hour’s Co-Founder Andy Ridley said everyone needs to realize they have the power to make a difference and act. Everyone from school children to world leaders can take part and make a difference.
“The state of our planet affects each and every one of us. Last year Earth Hour reached 1.8 billion people across the planet, this year through digital media we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much needed action for the environment.” Ridley said.
If we want to preserve the planet for our future generations, we need to start now. We can’t wait until it’s too late and Earth Hour is the perfect opportunity to get everyone involved. You can also make the hour a fun event to observe with friends and family. Host a candle lit dinner party, or roast marshmallows over a fire. If you have children, you can use this event as a chance to teach them about climate change and the importance of sustainability. Help the kids create paper lanterns that they can place a candle in for the duration of the hour.
If staying at home to observe the hour isn’t your thing, cities all over the world have events planned to mark Earth Hour. Toronto’s High Park Zoo plans to host an Earth Hour Walk, so people can walk through the zoo with candles and lanterns before concluding at the Grenadier Restaurant for a post-Earth Hour gathering.
In the Philippines residents can help send off 10,000 biodegradable wishing lanterns or attend one of the numerous street parties organized to help raise awareness. In Dubai, festivities are being planned in the Burj Plaza opposite the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.
Even astronaut Andre Kuipers will participate in Earth Hour by keeping watch over planet earth as the world goes dark. He plans to share photos and provide a live commentary via the European Space Agency.
Kuipers says, “There is no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the universe”
Be sure to read up on Earth Hour and the events happening near you at http://www.earthhour.org