Tomorrow from 8.30-9.30pm GMT I will be switching off all my electronic devices, and literally all the lights around the house. For one hour, I intend to bask in the solitude of quiet darkness as I do my little bit to celebrate Earth Hour 2015.
Earth Hour, initiated by the WWF in 2007 in Australia, is now a global annual event where millions of people switch off their lights for sixty minutes to acknowledge climate change and to show that they care about our planet. It’s about people from across the globe coming together to create a symbolic and spectacular lights out display and asking for change. It happens every year between 8.30 and 9.30pm local time, depending on wherever in the world you are, with switch offs starting in Samoa and finishing in Tahiti. The scope of the celebration grows exponentially every year, with 2014 being “the biggest Earth Hour yet“.
Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action. Therefore… (there is no engagement with) the measurement of energy/carbon reduction levels for the hour itself. Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges. Participation in Earth Hour symbolises a commitment to change beyond the hour.
And indeed, evidence indicates that the knock-on effects of commemorating Earth Hour ripple across the globe much beyond the sixty minutes of commemoration (hence the 60+ in the Earth Hour logo), but that more concrete measures need to be taken at grassroots levels to sustain the impact. A 2014 study on the ‘Electricity Impacts of Earth Hour‘ published in the Journal of Energy Research and Social Science compiled 274 measurements of observed changes in electricity demand caused by Earth Hour in 1 low-GDP and 9 high-GDP countries, spanning 6 years, and found that the events reduced electricity consumption an average of 4%. The study noted the policy challenge of converting Earth Hour’s short-term energy saving into longer-term actions, including sustained changes in behavior and investment.
I, for one, will try to assuage my guilty conscience (being perpetually connected to my electronic devices!) by switching them all off for this one hour, and who knows… perhaps the peace and tranquility that I find in those sixty minutes will inspire me to endeavour to make this a regular facet of my daily routine. Are you planning to take part in Earth Hour too? Do you think it is a meaningful activity? I’d love to know your thoughts, especially if you disagree.
Saneeya Qureshi © 2015