There’s a great drama of immense proportion being played out right in front of our eyes, if only we care to take notice of it. It’s about the destruction of our earth that is slowly but surely taking place, and which if allowed to continue unabated, can well change the face of Earth forever. Something we simply can’t let happen, more so when we owe our very existence to the well being of our dear planet. After having taken so much from mother earth, it’s perhaps payback time for us. Or so thought a few wise men from Australia who’s urged to do something to stem this decline led to what we now know as Earth Hour.
Touted as the largest voluntary power off event in history, Earth Hour is aimed at creating awareness against the ill effects of global warming. An annual event organized on the last Saturday of every March, it is an appeal to all, whether on the domestic front or business, to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances at least for an hour on this particular day of the year. First conceptualized by WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald in the year 2007, Earth Hour soon cut across international boundaries and by next year itself, began to be celebrated throughout the world. However the roots of the event can be traced to San Francisco that has been organizing a ‘lights out’ event in the month of October before 2008. From 2008 onwards, it was rescheduled to be held on March 29th, to bring it in line with the Earth Hour organized by Australia. This also marked its transition into an international event, with San Francisco pitching in as a partner city instead of running a parallel event centered on a similar theme.
The 2008 edition of Earth Hour was a huge success, with 35 cities across all seven continents acting as official flagship cities and another 400 cities extending support to the event. Famous landmarks turned off lights that they can do without for an hour, and these includes the Empire State Building in New York City, the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, London’s City Hall, England, and the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, among many others across the world.
The official website of the event, earthhour.org, played host to a staggering 6.7 million unique visitors in the week prior to the event. Other websites too took part in the event, with popular search site Google putting on a black background from 12.00 am on 29th March 2008 till the end of the event. However, this act was largely symbolic and was intended to carry forward the message of going dark for an hour, as LCD monitors consume the same amount of electricity irrespective of the color displayed on the screen. The results were encouraging too, as is evident from the findings of an international survey conducted by Zogby International. It recorded a participation of around 50 million people around the world and an increase of awareness of around 4 percent regarding issues that concern our environment.
The amount of energy saved was staggering too. According to sources at WWF Thailand, Bangkok reported a net saving of almost 73.34 megawatts of electricity, which amounts to 41.6 tones of carbon dioxide which otherwise would have been dumped into the environment. Toronto saved a whooping 900 megawatts of electricity, which translates to a saving of around 8.7% of electricity when compared against a typical March Saturday night. Christchurch in New Zealand came in with the best figures, which saw a steep decline of 13% in electricity consumption during this period.
Earth Hour 2009 is slated to take place on 28 March 2009, from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm. The number of participants has seen an increase too, with 750 cities from 80 countries across the world pledging their support to the event, a huge increase from just 35 countries that took part in the 2008 edition of the event. The idea behind it all is to bring about a drastic reduction in green house gas emission so as to negate the effects of global warming. The idea is to spread the message that now is the time to act, before it’s too late. The onus is now on us, and all we have to do is to cut down on unnecessary electricity consumption on the 29th of March 2009, as an estimated one billion people across the globe is expected to do.
For once, it’s not which part of the earth we hail from that’s important, but which planet we belong to that’s going to be counted. Chip in whichever way you can, visit the Earth Hour website to find out how you can be of help in your community, download wallpapers to display on twitter or your desktop, promote it among those who may be ignorant about such an event. After all it’s our earth and it’s only us who can make things better.