Illuminating Earth Hour


There are many ways to foster a movement, but few provide lovelier images—and a more painless feel-good opportunity—than Earth Hour, the environmental observance that celebrates its 6th anniversary this Saturday, from 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Plunging a major city, and its defining monuments, into orchestrated darkness has undeniable visual…well, power; and what could be easier for ordinary citizens than turning off their lights for  an hour, lighting candles, and feeling part of something big? No wonder, then, that Earth Hour 2012 is expected to be the biggest one yet.

But first, a brief history:

  • In 2007, the World Wildlife Fund of Australia launches a climate change initiative wholly contingent upon citizen participation.To promote the issue of energy conservation, and as a symbol of unity, businesses and residents of Sydney are asked to turn off lights for a single, simultaneous evening hour.  2.2 million people and more than 2,000 businesses comply, and Sydney goes dark for an hour.
  • A year later, 35 countries and almost 400 cities sign on to participate in Earth Hour, slated for the last Saturday of March.
  • In 2011, its 5th anniversary, Earth Hour is observed by 135 countries.  Nearly every major city, from Rome to Rio, Copenhagen to Cairo, darkens its most famous buildings and monuments for an hour; while, simultaneously, citizens participate in ways both solitary and social.

Conservation that spans a single hour won’t save the earth, of course, but symbolic gestures have always played a role in tackling big, complicated issues. Still, no one accustomed to the bright lights of a big city will need convincing that even an hour of darkness can wield a mighty energy savings punch, however briefly.

So, why not find a reason to sit in darkness for an hour this Saturday?  After all, everything—and everyone—looks good in candlelight.

View the official Earth Hour 2012 video here.

Photo credit:  Jody Spectrum, WWF Australia

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