Opinion Piece: Earth Hour, Earth Day or Earth Decade We Need it All
Earth Hour 2011 has reached an unprecedented record number of participation with 130 countries and territories registered to take part, on all seven continents, all G20 countries, thousands of cities, and iconic landmarks and public figures set to join with hundreds of millions across the world to celebrate action for the planet.
Fiji is special in a way to this campaign because we will be opening the stage for the rest of the world. From here on the event will move westward with the sun to New Zealand, Australia, Manila, Dubai, Dublin, New York, Chicago and finally San Francisco.
For the past three years, Earth Hour has generated a lot of debate from conservationists and the lay-man alike about the effectiveness of this “lights out” campaign.
Some people would say that it’s nothing more than a publicity stunt. Why else would one bother turning off their lights for just one hour? What kind of a real difference will that make? What happens after this one hour? Aren’t people going to go back to their usual habits?
However the importance of earth hour is its symbolic meaning. It is simply the designated time when millions of people from countries around the world join together as one to show their combined support.
The earth hour website summarises the initiative well:
“Earth Hour has done a lot to raise awareness of sustainability issues. But there’s more to it than switching off lights for one hour once a year. It’s all about giving people a voice and working together to create a better future for our planet.”
In this day and age where technological advancement and carbon emissions are growing exponentially we as individuals and citizens of the world need to keep pushing in every way we can for a safer environment.
Currently, there are technologies being developed that will help decarbonize energy but this and other initiatives need a push – and that will only happen if we keep climate change at the top of the agenda.
Personally, I feel that the campaign is a great way to stir the pot of discussion. If we’re not talking about the subject of climate change (whether it be for or against) enough we risk sweeping the threats and the issues surrounding it under the carpet.
Earth Hour aims to draw the world’s attention to this environmental threat and in doing so provide the civil will to take action. It serves as a reminder that if we all put in a little effort we can achieve big results.
More often than not, we all fail to see how big of an impact a small step makes. Whether it is switching to locally grown produce or taking the bike to work instead of the car.
We’re all reminded (constantly with a roll of our eyes!) to switch off the lights in the bedroom, the bathroom and the kitchen even if it’s not in use because the electricity bill is not getting any lower.
With that in mind, imagine if ten thousand households in Fiji all practiced saving energy by just switching off non-essential lights every day. The difference in the amount of energy consumed during this period and the last would definitely be significant.
In this case, we’re just talking about a simple light switch.
However, if we’re than to consider growing and consuming more locally produced food on top of the energy reduction practices at home the amount of money and energy saved will be more than just noticeable.
This year Earth Hour asks people to commit to an action, big or small, for the coming year, taking Earth Hour beyond the hour and making the switch to a healthier and more environmentally friendly alternative.
Consider Earth Hour your next step in making a difference, then follow that up with further steps.
And finally, whether you’re still arguing the pros and cons of this campaign just remember that whether it’s Earth Hour, Earth Day or Earth Decade - with this fight, we will need it all.