This Saturday, on 27th March 2021, we mark the 15th annual Earth Hour. At 8:30pm local time, participants across the world will turn off all non-essential lights in their homes and offices in an effort to draw attention to the ongoing climate crisis that is ravaging our planet.
The event first took place in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Founded by the WWF and partners, Earth Hour has grown to include more than 180 countries and territories around the world, all taking part in this all-inclusive, open-to-all act of solidarity and environmental action. More than a symbolic gesture, Earth Hour has grown into a global force for advancing climate and environmental activism and legislative change, shining a light on one of humanity’s most pressing issues by doing the opposite – turning the lights off.
Lights-Out for Earth Hour – Renewable Energy
On the face of it, Earth Hour appears to draw our attention to one aspect, and one aspect alone, of the climate crisis – energy production and consumption. Happily, in this regard, some progress is being made. In 2019, 19.7% of gross energy consumption in the EU-27 was from renewable sources, more than double the amount in 2004. National calculations found that Sweden had renewable energy consumption of 56.6%, with other nation such as Finland, Latvia, Denmark, and Austria all coming in well over 30%. That same year, 11.4% of US energy consumption was accounted for by renewal energy, an amount three times greater than at the turn of the millennium in 2000.
Progress though this is, it isn’t enough. Climate change proceeds in spite of these advances and now events like Earth Hour must also call attention to other forms of environmental crisis, namely the destruction of natural habitats and biodiversity.
The destruction of the rainforest might not, for many, bear any relevance to the electricity that powers their lightbulbs at home, but in truth, the two are inextricably linked. It is the wild places of the earth that stand as our most stalwart shield against climate change. There is, after all, a reason why places like the rainforest are so often called the ‘Lungs of the Earth’, taking in carbon dioxide and mitigating, in part, humanity’s continuous production of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, human production of such gases already outstrips the absorption capabilities of our forests, and by engaging in deforestation we will only exacerbate this problem, further stunting our planet’s natural ability to produce and maintain a clean and hospitable atmosphere.
Though renewable energy continues to grow, the production of greenhouse gases is still a problem of existential proportions, and without our natural armour of forests and plant life, our primary solution to that problem begins to slip from our grasp.
The Climate Crisis as a Whole
Earth Hour, therefore, aims to draw our attention to more than just our lights or our energy consumption. It asks us to think deeply and honestly about our place in the world and how we might affect, for better or for worse, the state of our environment in the day-to-day business of our lives. Now, more than ever, action must be taken, before it is too late.
2021 is a year in which such change could well be brought about if due support is given where it is needed. Earth Hour calls upon us to bring environmental issues to the forefront of our national and international conversations as our leaders come together in a number of global conferences throughout the year, such as the COP 15 of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the COP 15 of the Convention for Biological Diversity, and the COP 26 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outcomes of these conferences will mark out the course of environmental matters for the next decade and for generations to come. Earth Hour’s goal is to start the conversations that will ensure those outcomes are the ones we need; to bring us together, unified, against a threat that will affect us all.
Getting Involved in Earth Hour
The roots of Earth Hour are in darkness – the good kind. By turning off our non-essential lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm, we can partake in the act at the very core of the Earth Hour event, showing commitment to the cause and starting conversations, even if they are only within our families or households, about the environment and the climate crisis. The Earth Hour organisers have even put together a helpful list of ‘20+ things you can do from the comfort of your home’ during Earth Hour 2021. Candles, in particular, feature heavily, as one might expect.
This year, Earth Hour are also running an additional campaign – the Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight. On the actual day of 27th March 2021, the event organisers will publish a ‘must-watch’ video across various internet platforms, the goal of which is to get the world watching and talking. The content of the video has, thus far, been kept secret, but the Earth Hour website assures us that it will ‘make you see our planet and the issues we face in a new light’.
The way to support this campaign is simple. Follow Earth Hour on your chosen form or forms of social media, watch the video when it drops on Saturday, and then share the video as widely as you can with the hashtag #EarthHour where possible.
In the run-up to and during Earth Hour itself, there are also plenty of events across the world that can be attended, both online and in-person, depending on local covid-19 restrictions.
The Climate Crisis – Now or Never
It can sometimes be hard to grasp the gravity of events that appear to develop so slowly over time. There are generations alive today for whom the issue of climate change has always been present, a ubiquitous but quiet spectre haunting their lives. But a problem that unfolds over time is no less of an issue than one which happens in an instant. Our environment is in crisis and we, for all of our intelligence and advancements, are part of that environment. Ergo, we too are in crisis.
Climate change is an existential threat to life on earth well beyond humanity. In terms of sheer magnitude of potential destruction, there is no issue that even comes close to matching the scale of the current environmental crisis.
The time to act was, truth be told, decades ago. But acting today is better than next week, next month, or next year. Events like Earth Hour are a fantastic way to remind ourselves of that fact. Small actions by many people can change the world. Small actions like switching off your lights and clicking a share button.