What is Earth Hour?
Earth Hour is an international event which takes place at the end of March each year. Participants in Earth Hour are encouraged to turn all of their nonessential lights off for one hour, starting at 8:00 PM. The event is designed to draw attention to the issue of wasted electricity, and to point out that small actions can make a significant difference in electricity consumption. Earth Hour also coincides with National Dark Sky Week in the United States, a week when people take action against light pollution by turning off extraneous lights.
The first Earth Hour took place in Sydney, Australia, in 2007. The event was sponsored by the Australian wing of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Sydney Morning Herald. During the event, the demand on Australia's electricity grid declined by around 10%, representing a substantial decrease in emissions created during electricity generation. In 2008, the event was repeated with cities all over the world, encouraging international participation.
Critics of Earth Hour argue that the reduction achieved during the hour of darkness is insignificant. However, Earth Hour is a symbolic event. Participants point out that if people made small conscious choices to reduce electricity consumption, these choices add up, and the hope is that Earth Hour participants will continue to reduce energy usage throughout the year, not just during Earth Hour.
The event also promotes the use of energy efficient lighting and policies in businesses which encourage energy efficiency. The goal of Earth Hour is to connect people with the issue of global warming on an immediate level, showing them how they can make a difference. Participating in Earth Hour is very easy, making the event simple to organize for communities which want to support it.
The organizers of Earth Hour would like to remind participants that only nonessential lights and appliances should be turned off during Earth Hour, and that people who feel the need to use candles should use products such as soy candles, which do not produce harmful emissions. Lights and appliances which need to be left on for safety reasons such as night lights in parking lots should not be turned off, although people are encouraged to use energy efficient bulbs and appliances. In addition to helping to preserve the environment, energy efficient lights and appliances also save money.
@pleonasm - I really like the fact that it coincides with dark sky week at least, because I don't think that gets enough attention. I know that conservation and environmental awareness is important but being able to see the stars without heading into the middle of nowhere is really nice and, honestly, I think it's time they started extending Earth Hour for longer than an hour anyway.
@croydon - Honestly, what I like best about Earth Hour is how many people participate in it, even if they aren't going to be doing their best for the environment all year. I really think that one of the best ways to motivate the world is to get people involved and the more people do this, the bigger deal it becomes.
The point is to raise awareness and to make people feel like they can make a difference. And if you look at the statistics that have been collected over previous Earth Hour events, you can definitely see that it can make a difference. All around the world electricity use drops during this one hour by a very noticeable extent.
That fact is empowering and hopefully it will lead to more action.
Honestly, what always annoys me about Earth Hour is not that it's not effective, but that it seems like so many companies participate in it for only the one hour. I mean, if they have lights to turn off at such a late hour then they are obviously not essential and they really ought to be off all the time. But it seems like so many companies tend to just keep their lights on all night and all weekend regardless of whether they need to or not. This event should really highlight the fact that they could be doing a lot more just by flicking a few switches.
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