Earth Hour – turning off the lights for one hour as a call for global action on climate change. Usually this annual event means that whole cities and skylines go dark, but what does this look like in the midst of a UK lockdown?
Starting in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now established as a non-profit organisation based in Singapore, supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). This year, on 27th March, over 180 countries are scheduled to take part in the initiative by turning their lights off between 8.30-9.30pm. Earth Hour will be posting a must-watch short film on social media on the evening itself and asking people to share it. They have also compiled 5 ways that people can get involved which include:
Speak up by sharing your own story about the climate crisis in an open letter or by designing a poster or other visual.
Switch on and connect with people digitally, sharing Earth Hour related content and attending an online event.
Inspire others to take action by talking to family and friends about Earth Hour to raise awareness of climate change.
Change something in your daily routine such as using less water or reducing your consumption of animal products.
Show the world you care by getting involved in campaigning or petitioning for the environment.
2021 is the start of an important decade for climate and nature action. We have talked about citizen action and maintaining lower pollution levels when society returns to normal. With climate talks ramping up in light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow in November, have we seen any of the positive effects? Has pollution really decreased in the last year? Although 2020 tied with 2016 as the hottest year in the global temperature record, NASA has also released data to show that nitrogen dioxide levels (produced by fossil fuels) did in fact fall by 20-50% in 2020, linking the cause to pandemic related restrictions. Although global movement has been limited, the environment has at least felt the positive effect due to these changes in our collective behaviour.
So why are these changes so important? Evidence shows that there is a close link between the destruction of natural habitats and infectious disease outbreaks. Preventing nature loss is crucial, not just to avert epidemics like Covid-19 but to maintain clean water, pure air, soil, to regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. We know that a vegan diet has a major affect on reducing the amount of space and feed used for meat production, but what else can we do? As part of Earth Hour WWF has also produced a Footprint Calculator and My Footprint app where you can choose lifestyle changes that may reduce your carbon footprint. Putting pressure on our governments by writing to local MP’s, voting with our wallets and keeping ourselves educated on the issues leading to nature loss and the climate crisis is evermore paramount. Even the smallest of actions can help make a big difference to climate change and joining Earth Hour’s switch off reminds us of this.
By Naomi Bailey-Cooper