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Earth Hour: Does It Really Matter?

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Earth Hour is an environmental movement organized by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) that is supported by people around the world. It is done by encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to shut down all of the non-essential electric lights for one hour, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm. This event is held annually on the last Saturday of March. It was started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 as an action to raise awareness about climate change [1]. It eventually became one of the largest grassroots movements in the world for the environment, where it also puts more focus on biodiversity and nature loss and how it linked to our well being [2].


Eiffel tower (R) and Kremlin (L) before and during the Earth Hour on 25 March 2017


Source: China Daily [6]


The aim of Earth Hour is to become an unstoppable movement that strives for climate and biodiversity, that highlights the importance of collective action of every individual for creating solutions to our environmental problems, and that every person has a significant role. Earth Hour has also gone far beyond the symbolic action of turning off the lights; it has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by utilizing the power of the people and collective action.


The Significance of Earth Hour

But this movement has also raised some questions from a lot of people: is this action going to affect anything? Is switching our lights off for one hour going to have any significance? The events lowered electricity use by an average of 4%, according to a 2014 study published in Energy Research and Social Science, which aggregated 274 observations of observed changes in electricity demand caused by Earth Hour in 10 nations over 6 years [3]. This may not be much and is relatively insignificant compared to how much carbon that is actually emitted that range of time for electric use. But according to Earth Hour's global FAQ page, Earth Hour does not aim to reduce a large amount of carbon emissions or energy use; rather, it's a symbolic action. However, there are other real impacts that Earth Hour gives that are rather more empowering and bring more significance [4].


The Powerful Impacts of Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a global movement that encourages people, corporations, and governments to take responsibility for their ecological footprints and to engage in discourse and resource exchange that leads to meaningful solutions to our environmental problems. Earth Hour signifies a commitment to change that extends beyond the hour. This symbolic event eventually results in something more powerful. In 2012, the first people-powered law to be ignited by Earth Hour was legislated. Russia passed a law to further protect the country’s seas from oil pollution as a result of Earth Hour’s "I Will If You Will" campaign where a petition by WWF Russia was being held, which generated 122,000 signatures.


Earth Hour bring together people from all over the world to voice their concerns toward nature


Source: WWF Madagascar [7]


In 2014, following a successful Earth Hour campaign, the Galápagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, became Ecuador's first province to prohibit the use of plastic bags and other disposable packaging. In 2018, Earth Hour inspired public pressure in French Polynesia, resulting in the classification of 5 million square kilometers of its Exclusive Economic Zone in the South Pacific as a Managed Marine Area, thereby helping to preserve vital marine ecosystems for present and future generations. And last year, in 2021, despite the fact that many nations are still subject to COVID-19 restrictions, people from a record-breaking 192 countries and territories came together online to voice out for nature louder than ever before.


The first-ever Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight, which was shared over 24,000 times on social media by Sofia Vergara, Armin Van Burren, UEFA, World Scouting, and the United Nations, among other notable individuals, emphasized the link between natural loss, climate change, and the rise of pandemics [5]. Those are only the surface of what Earth Hour has actually achieved; this only shows how impactful and powerful it is when people around the world come together collectively to voice and act upon this seemingly never-ending issue.


To Many More Earth Hours

Of course, we are still far away from achieving our goal, which is a carbon-free planet with sustainability as our focal point in every aspect of our lives. But this movement shows us that nothing is impossible when we unite ourselves and act together; it's not going to be possible if only a handful of people do something about it. This movement does matter, the voice of the people around the world are starting to be heard because of this action. This results in new rules and actions like the one I mentioned before, and many more yet to come. Therefore, we need more people to participate in this action so that our demand will become stronger and the more likely it is to be heard.


We all hope that in the future Earth Hour, more people, communities, or institutions will become aware of our condition and join this movement together with the rest of the world. We hope that our voice and aspiration will urge responsible parties to act upon it by releasing new rules and regulations that will ensure the continuity of our planet. Research and innovation are also required to provide solutions to achieve our dream. Hopefully, our dream of a planet where humans and nature can live side by side can be accomplished, because there is no one that benefits the most from it other than ourselves.




Sources:

[3] Olexsak, Sarah J.; Meier, Alan (2014). "The electricity impacts of Earth Hour: An international comparative analysis of energy-saving behavior". Energy Research & Social Science. 2: 159-182. doi:10.1016/j.erss.2014.04.014.


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