Earth Hour, March 31, 2012: Give 60 Minutes for the Planet

Candice Gaukel Andrews February 21, 2012 11
Sea turtle

Scorching sands pose the greatest long-term threat from climate change to sea turtles. By 2070, sands in many areas will be so hot that eggs will not survive, causing extinction of the species. ©John T. Andrews.

It’s as simple as turning off your lights for one hour on Saturday, March 31, at 8:30 p.m., your local time. That’s it. It may be the easiest thing you’ll ever be asked to do for an environmental cause and for the natural world.

Your action can be as uncomplicated as that because the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the organizer of Earth Hour, is counting on millions of people to do the same thing in a cascade around the globe, from New Zealand to Hawaii. And by using the power of our interconnectedness throughout the world, it’s hoped we’ll make a bigger statement to those in positions of power about our concern regarding the Earth’s changing climate and the effects it’s having — especially on wildlife, such as polar bears, tigers, and sea turtles.

But in the end, will Earth Hour really make a difference?

The “big guys” versus us

Winter scene

During Earth Hour, just turn off the lights for 60 minutes. ©John T. Andrews.

Some would argue that the actions we as individuals take and the personal pledges we make to safeguard the environment are a drop in the bucket, given the peril our planet is in. Taking shorter showers, changing our incandescent lightbulbs to compact fluorescents, and turning off our lights for an hour once a year won’t amount to much. The changes necessary are so large and profound that they are beyond the reach of individual action. Only major changes will get us off the sure path to a quickly warming planet and the natural disasters that will follow. Governments need to enact laws and tax policies that encourage the conservation of energy; the production and use of more energy-efficient cars, buildings, and appliances; and the development and implementation of renewable energy such as solar and wind power and biofuels. Only governments can increase investments in public transportation and encourage land development patterns that minimize urban and suburban sprawl. And governments are rarely responsive to one-hour, public demonstrations.

So while Earth Hour creates awareness, it may be, in reality, only a feel-good event.

We are them

Still, however, 2012 will mark the sixth year of Earth Hour. The inaugural event was held in Sydney, Australia, where 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses participated on March 31, 2007. By Earth Hour 2011, hundreds of millions of people had turned the lights out, involving more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries on seven continents.

Polar Bear

Polar bear populations in Canada’s Hudson Bay have declined by 22 percent since the 1990s. If global warming continues at its current pace, polar bears could be gone by 2050. ©Candice Gaukel Andrews.

Earth Hour is, of course, a symbolic action. It’s not about how much energy is saved around the planet in one night. The real purpose is to go Beyond the Hour, by committing ourselves to working for a slowdown of climate change and showing the big guys that we mean it when we say we want some steps taken in the right direction. After all, according to Reuters.com, in any two days, human beings create as much information online as it took our species to produce in the thirty thousand years between the dawn of cave painting and the year 2003. In another ten years, that same amount of information will be generated in less than one hour.

Maybe by using our ability to connect with anyone anywhere in the world by way of Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks, we can show our common concern for the environment, and we will get the attention of the big guys — in just one hour.

Do you think Earth Hour can play a part in convincing governments around the world to enact legislation that will help ward off global warming?

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,

Candy

11 Comments »

  1. Steve G. February 21, 2012 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Just FYI, if everyone in the world turned off their lights for one hour, not only on that day, but on every single day of the year, the most significant impact would be in reinforcing the idea that they are making some significant contribution toward “saving the planet” (which they are not), so that they might return to all of the other inane activities that humans pursue during the other 23 hours of the day (or 15 if you deduct 8 for sleep).

    Or in other words, go for it, if you want (for what it’s worth, which isn’t much); but don’t go for it just because it makes you feel good … because that’s the problem to begin with.

    As for myself … they’ll already be off.

  2. Penny J. February 21, 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    if we all do something.. no matter how small its still better than doing nothing

  3. S. Gallagher February 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this Candice, good to get an early reminder.

  4. John Howard Gaukel February 22, 2012 at 11:25 am - Reply

    WE can’t convince most of the people that global warming is real and that Earth’s climate is changing, how are we going to convince them to participate in Earth Hour ?

  5. Dr. JAGDISH MITTAL February 24, 2012 at 5:42 am - Reply

    It will be like smaller particles make big subject. Therefore we all must do this small and simple act.

  6. Garry February 25, 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    i will be passing the word. how about not just the lights but all the extra devices we have that use electricity.

  7. Katie February 25, 2012 at 10:55 am - Reply

    Absolutely fantastic idea, I will be doing this myself, AND persuading my not-so-environmentally-friendly friends to do the same

  8. Erin Aquino-Carhart February 25, 2012 at 10:57 am - Reply

    I think it is a simple way to demonstrate how many people are concerned about the environment or at least have people think about the implications of wasteful use of any resource. I agree with Steve; you may be able to see an overall benefit from communities that participate in this “Earth Hour observance.”

  9. Miriam February 29, 2012 at 6:14 am - Reply

    I am there with you Candice! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Megan Oteri March 1, 2012 at 5:30 am - Reply

    I think this needs to happen at least ten times a year.

  11. Travis March 6, 2012 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    Got it on the calendar!

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