Mark the date: Saturday, March 31, 2012. Mark the time: 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening (local time zone). The event? Earth Hour 2012! Join billions of people worldwide in supporting Mother Earth through Earth Hour 2012! Help heal the planet by switching off all non-essential lights. It's one way to visibly show your commitment to the planet Earth in slowing down the negative consequences of global warming and climate change.
The very first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Now, on its 6th year, Earth Hour has moved beyond the Australian continent and is an anticipated global event that is eagerly participated in by people who have committed themselves to protecting the planet. Each year, Earth Hour organizers and supporters encourage and urge people to be part of this worldwide initiative. It is a worthwhile campaign that everyone should be part of. After all, the global warming and climate change will affect each and every person's way of life.
The Earth is running a fever
Earth, the third planet from the sun is suffering from a fever. Its temperature is continuing to rise resulting in a condition called global warming. The oceans alone are 50% warmer today compared to before. This global warming is affecting the climate. Although the Earth's climate has been changing since the dawn of time, today's climate changes are not only due to natural causes but are also caused by the way people have chosen to live and survive on the planet.
Over a century ago, the industrial revolution brought about the use of coal, oil and naturally occurring gases. People needed these energy sources to power factories, vehicles, machineries, and light their homes. The world has been relying heavily on fossil fuels to keep the world running. Unfortunately when burning these fossil fuels to create energy, carbon dioxide (a type of greenhouse gas) is released into the Earth's atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (which naturally exist in the Earth's atmosphere) do not allow heat to escape the atmosphere. This is a good thing because type of gases keeps the planet warm enough so that plants, animals and humans can continue to live on this planet. However, when humans, through their inventions and way of life, add extra greenhouse gases, that's when Earth's global warming becomes an environmental issue. This rise in temperature affects the climate and distorts the delicate balance enjoyed on land, in seas and within the atmosphere. A warmer Earth can cause ice shelves to melt causing massive flooding; catastrophic changes in weather patterns that can harm plants, animals and people; and, other negative effects on the natural environment of the planet.
This is why scientists, environmentalists, educators, economists, politicians, business leaders, governmental and non-governmental organizations, celebrities and ordinary citizens who care for the planet continually trying to find ways, according to their own capabilities, to spread the word about global warming and climate change, including its devastating effects and what steps each and everyone can take to reduce their carbon foot-print.
So much information about global warming and climate change is available not only on the web but also from books, periodicals, videos and other media formats. Make sure to take the time to educate yourself about these topics.
The idea of Earth Hour was born
The Aussies in the Land Down Under were responsible for this simple, doable and concrete environmental campaign. The seed of the idea was planted way back in 2004. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Australian started to look for ways to rally the people of Australia to take on climate change. The project that they came up with was entitled "The Big Flick." It was a project that gave everyone the opportunity to personally make them responsible and accountable for the Earth's future.
By 2006, plans for the Earth Hour campaign were in its final stages. In the same year, the eye-opening documentary of former United States Vice President Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth," came out. Suddenly, climate change and global warming were becoming buzzwords. Also that year, the Stern Report came out outlining the effects of both buzzwords on the global economy. Government sat up and took notice because an economist and not a scientist was giving out warnings on what will happen should the world not take seriously the effects of climate change on the quality of life here on Earth.
Finally, in 2007, Sydney, Australia became the first venue for Earth Hour. On March 31 of that year, Earth Hour commenced at 7:30 in the evening one hour after. An estimated 2.2 million Sydney citizens (children to adults, powerful CEOs, politicians, celebrities, business leaders and business owners) flicked the switch in order to shut off non-essential lights. It was estimated that about 2,100 businesses in Sydney joined the campaign.
For the following year, the plan was to bring Earth Hour to other locations within Australian. But as fate would have it, what begun as a uniquely Australian movement quickly became a movement that would be embraced by the rest of the world. Toronto, Canada was the first to join Australia in this unique event. Soon, around 400 cities and towns (within 35 nations) across the globe pledged to put off their lights. A global initiative for the planet was born.
Earth Hour is always held sometime during the last weekend of March. Why? Because this is when the Spring equinox and the Autumn equinox occur. At this time, in both hemispheres, sunrise and sunset are nearly exactly 12 hours away from each other.
This makes certain that majority of the cities joining the global event would be in darkness as the movement went from location to location around the world.
The years that followed the first Earth Hour
In 2007, the organizers of Earth Hour probably had no idea just how huge their campaign was going to get. By 2008, 371 cities representing over 35 countries switched off their lights from 8 pm to 9 pm. Earth Hour 2008 was held on March 29. The conservative estimate of the number of people who participated in this unique event was 50 million.
The following year, Earth Hour began at 8:30 pm on March 28, 2009 and ended at 9:30 pm. The estimated number of people who joined Earth Hour on this Saturday night was in the hundreds of millions. The participants represented over 4,000 locations in 88 countries.
The 2010 Earth Hour was held on March 27 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm. A record breaking 128 nations as well as territories joined the campaign against global warming. Iconic landmarks and renowned buildings across the globe were enveloped in darkness for one hour. Some of these buildings and landmarks that switched off their lights in 2010 were:
Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia)
Parthenon (Athens, Greece)
Big Ben (London, United Kingdom)
Eiffel Tower (Paris, France)
Forbidden City (Beijing, China)
Brandenburg Gate (Berlin, Germany)
Last year's Earth Hour was kick started in New Zealand and Fiji and ended in Samoa, in the South Pacific. It was held on March 26, 2011 with 1.8 billion citizens from a whopping 5,251 cities and towns, representing 135 countries participating in the event. The countries that officially joined Earth Hour last year were Azerbaijan, Chad, Gibraltar, Iran, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lesotho, Palestine, Suriname, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Trinidad and Tobago and Uzbekistan. The rise in number of participants (people, businesses, buildings and landmarks) for this global event affirmed the notion that people do care about the issue of global warming and climate change.
2011 also marked the launching of Beyondthehour.org, which gives people a venue for them to recount their personal stories, offer their own suggestions on to help the cause, and make personal pledges for the healing Mother Earth.
The different social networking sites have greatly contributed to getting more people involved in Earth Hour. These sites helped push Earth Hour in the consciousness of its users and fans. There is no doubt that Earth Hour 2012, which is scheduled for 8:30 in the evening on Saturday March 31 will surely break last year's record in terms of number of participants.
New to Earth Hour?
You don't have to put every light off (although do so if you can). Lights out or flicking the switch means turning off lights that are considered non-essential in your homes or offices. If you own a business or your company or facility would like to join the cause, talk to you building manager about turning off all non-essential lighting during Earth Hour.
You may want to plan ahead for Earth Hour. Organize a get together with family and friends for Saturday night. While enjoying the hour of darkness, instead of swapping ghost stories, brainstorm about what other sustainable steps you can all do to help stop the ill effects of climate change.
How YOU can propel Earth Hour's noble cause
It is so easy! Call people, text people, send emails, instant messages and more informing them of this global campaign for the planet. If you are into social networking via the Internet, click the "Like" button on the Earth Hour Facebook page and invite friends to "like" it, too. You can also follow Earth Hour's Twitter account at @earthhour. Another way to raise awareness is to add the Earth Hour logo to your webpage or the web banner to your site. Make a wallpaper tribute to Earth Hour for your desktop, laptop or tablet computer. You can also add links to Earth Hour and WWF sites on your website or post videos related to this environmental movement.
If your city or town or even country hasn't signed up yet for Earth Hour, start the ball rolling and become an organizer for Earth Hour! Visit Beyondthehour.org for details.
The organizers behind Earth Hour challenge everyone to step out of their comfort zones and accept a dare or two. The "I Will If You Will" challenge, which you can find on Earth Hour Global Channel on YouTube, is a good way to find out if you are up to the task of walking the talk when it comes to doing your share for the planet.
There are several challenges to choose. Some are truly unique, some are fun and engaging, and some have concrete impacts on the environment. Victoria Secret Model, wife and mother, Miranda Kerr's challenge is for 500 people to upload their own "I Will If You Will" challenge. If her challenge is met, she will conduct a free yoga class. The Washington D.C. Climate Change team is challenging 500 people to dare their respective mayors to prepare for the impacts of climate change. If 500 people accept their challenge, the team will organize a flash mob and post a video of this seemingly spontaneous dance performance on the web. If no challenge is challenging enough for you, you can create your own and challenge other Earth lovers out there.
Going beyond the Earth Hour
Earth Hour is just the starting point. Everyone should go beyond Earth Hour by committing to reducing his or her own negative effects on the environment. Some ways you can help the planet heal itself are:
- Turning off lights when not in use
- Using energy saving light bulbs
- Installing motion sensor lighting fixtures
- Turning off electrical appliances and electronic gadgets when such items are not in use for a long time
- Practice: Recycle, Reuse and Reduce
- Join (or even organize) groups within your community and your workplace that are focused on creating and implementing programs that combat climate change
- Register your commitment to Earth Hour via the Earthhour.org website
The effects of global warming have started long ago. Unfortunately, people are only starting to sit up and take notice now. Global warming is a clear and present threat to the existence of all life on Earth. The time to commit to fighting the devastating effects of global warming and climate change is now. This environmental problem does not rest only on the shoulders of scientists, environmentalists, politicians, and celebrities, the World Wildlife Fund, 1st world countries or Fortune 500 businesses. Climate change affects people of all ages, genders, races, social and economic standings, political leanings and religious beliefs.
The damage that global warming and climate change have wrought in the past cannot be undone. But by doing your share and working with others, it is possible to mitigate the future effects of this impending disaster. Remember that nothing is unachievable if billions of people band together for a common cause.
Be part of the solution today! Go beyond putting off the lights during this year's Earth Hour. Work on creating and pursuing sustainable measures to combat global warming and climate change.