Categorized | Earth Hour Special

Earth Hour: Turning on the Lights of Action

Posted on 21 March 2012 by admin

Puninda Singh
Waterloo

What started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, has grown to become the largest environmental event in history. In 2011, more than 5,200 cities and 135 countries switched off their lights for Earth Hour, and since 2008, the City of Toronto has been an active participant. Earth Hour was initiated to raise awareness about the pertinent issue of climate change; however, I feel that somewhere down the line, the motive has been lost in translation. Some people feel a societal pressure to turn off their lights for the hour. Some people think that participating in the Earth Hour absolves them of all the environmental sins they have accumulated over the year, as if somehow in the darkness their conscience will be cleared.
If we could reverse climate change by merely uniting and switching off the lights for an hour once a year, we would be on our way to conquering the issue. Earth Hour is meant to be a symbolic event to remind and encourage us as a society to take substantial action against climate change. I like to look at it as a time for reflection and evaluation, of how we can personally reduce our ecological footprint. Earth hour is an action that requires a very minimal effort from our end, but does not really have a measurable impact to tackle the climate change problem.
Those individuals who revert to their previous electrical usage routine thinking they have done their part to save the planet undermine the intended message of Earth Hour. That sentiment may have to do in part with the false sense of accomplishment the participation in such an event may cause people to feel.
Earth Hour is an optimistic reminder for us to take bigger steps in our households. Simple actions like buying energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling the home smartly, composting, recycling, making use of public transportation when possible, not keeping equipment on standby when not in use, can all together make a difference. A change in behavior, a shift from consumerist attitude to conservationist one is required in human psychology. It should serve as a call for governments to reinstitute and implement comprehensive ecological initiatives, especially in the context of present national environmental issues like the Keystone XL Pipeline.
For the past six years, the phenomenon of Earth Hour has allowed the issue of climate change to be realized on a global scale, even trickling down to the smallest communities. The hypocrisy of Earth Hour comes into question when words don’t translate to action. Participating in the event is an initial step; however, unless further steps or actions are undertaken, the entire message of the initiative is lost.

HISTORICAL TIMELINE OF EARTH HOUR

2004 – WWF Australia begins to look at new ways to take climate change mainstream after being confronted with serious scientific data

2005 – A campaign based on hope not fear, and the idea that everyone can take personal responsibility for the future of the planet we live on, is envisioned

2006 -Leo Burnett is tasked with the challenge of coming up with a campaign name that represents more than simply flicking off lights –Earth Hour is born.
Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie is released bringing worldwide attention to the issue of climate change
31 March 2007
The inaugural Earth Hour is held in Sydney Australia 7.30pm – 8.30pm, 2.2 million Sydneysiders and 2,100 businesses participate
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a report highlighting the risks of rising temperatures, further highlighting the need for urgent solutions
April 2007
Plans are developed to make Earth Hour a national event in Australia, but international interest is high and cities began signing up to the next Earth Hour campaign
29 March 2008
Earth Hour is held in 371 cities and towns in more than 35 countries globally at 8pm-9pm. A highly conservative estimate concludes that 50 million people participate. This number could have been as high as 100 million people
28 March 2009
Earth Hour held on Saturday March 28 at 8.30pm-9.30pm. Hundreds of millions of people in more than 4,000 cities and towns across 88 countries switched off their lights for one hour, creating a visual mandate for action on climate change effectively kick-starting the world’s first global vote.
July 2009
Earth Hour’s Vote Earth campaign releases the Vote Earth symbol calling on citizens of the world to show their vote for Earth over Global Warming.
December 2009
Global awareness of climate change soars to unprecedented levels during an historic meeting of 192 nations at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Vote Earth campaign culminates on 16th December with Earth Hour Copenhagen. The People’s Orb, is entrusted to UN Chef de Cabinet, Vijay Nambiar to be presented to world leaders. The People’s Orb takes centre stage in the plenary on the final day of the conference alongside UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, in front of President of the United States, Barack Obama, Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, COP President and Climate Minister Connie Hedegaard and over 100 heads of state.
27 March 2010
Earth Hour is held on Saturday March 27 at 8.30pm-9.30pm and succeeds in being a global call to action to stand up, to take responsibility, and lead the global journey to a sustainable future. A record 128 countries and territories take part and iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas stand in darkness.
26 March 2011
Earth Hour is held on Saturday March 26 at 8.30pm-9.30pm and continues to break records for participation with 135 countries taking part. Earth Hour 2011 is the first Earth Hour to go beyond the hour, by asking supporters to think about what else they can do to make a difference. Beyondthehour.org is launched to give supporters a place to share stories and pledge to do more.
31 March 2012
Earth Hour 2012 will be held on Saturday March 31 at 8.30pm-9.30pm wherever you are in the world. So save the date and keep coming back to earthhour.org to find out what’s in store.

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