Earth Hour 2014 has been announced, and the event is set to take place on March 29, at 8.30pm local time. The day, which was started in Australia by WWF, is a celebration of the planet. Millions of people across the globe switch off their lights for an hour. As emphasized by WWF, Earth Hour is really just the beginning for climate change action.
The concept began in Sydney, and first came to light (or dark) in 2007, when the city first turned out it’s lights. Over the past few years the event has gained momentum, and this year over 7000 cities, from 152 nations are expected to participate.
Many participating cities turn off the lights on their monuments and town hall buildings. Famous landmarks that have been switched off in the past include Big Ben, the Empire State Building, and the Eiffel Tower, as well as Sydney’s own, the Opera House.
Back in 2008, Earth Hour went international, and saw participation from all seven continents. Since then the event has been forever gaining momentum, with many countries and businesses joining the bid, and millions of citizens turning off their lights.
Although the Hour began as a symbolic gesture to raise awareness, WWF are keen to move forward with the campaign, and emphasise that Earth Hour is just the beginning for climate change action. They encourage participants to adopt a conscious attitude towards the planet, and carry it forward well after the lights come back on.
This year the emphasis will be on the Great Barrier Reef.
In the run up to the switch off on Saturday March 29, WWF will screen a documentary, which they say will reveal the truth behind how climate change is affecting the Reef. The documentary will be part of a television event on Channel 10, and will likely be screened at Earth Hour events across the globe before the light are switched off.
WWF also announced a competition to win tickets to a Camp Earth Hour on the Great Barrier Reef, which will be handed out to organisers of the selected top 50 inspiring Earth Hour events.
It is not the first time the Earth Hour campaign has taken itself forward in direction. In 2012 WWF extended it’s campaign launching “I Will If You Will,” in which the digital community could co-ordinate efforts of sustainable action, through social media, and a dedicated Youtube platform.
The IWIYW campaign allows people to share challenges, and encourage action and response from other people. Examples include Firemen scaling buildings if 1000 people commit to recycling, and the President of Fiji taking a 30km hike if businesses and governments make public announcments of sustainable action plans.
“I Will If You Will,” along with this years emphasis on the Great Barrier Reef, perhaps demonstrate the real direction of Earth Hour. The WWF have succeeded in growing a campaign from the ground upwards.
Now Earth Hour offers international participation, with events and awareness spreading across the planet. They also offer a course of direct action for governments, corporations, and everyday citizens, all of which have an equal responsibility towards climate change.
With 2014 expected to be the biggest Earth Hour ever, it’s lights out world, this Saturday March 27. For the WWF, and for everyone who recognises the ever looming issue of climate change; Earth hour is just the beginning.
By Matthew Warburton