This Saturday, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is calling for the 10th Earth Hour. We are called to turn our lights off and unplug all those unnecessary electronics for an hour at 8:30-9:30 PM.
What is Earth Hour?
The act is to show our solidarity as humans as we take a stand for the environment and commit to change climate change.
Last year, 172 countries and territories, 10,400 landmarks and millions of people participated in the Earth Hour. The hour long activity is a symbolic action, it does not claim to dramatically help reduce carbon dioxide for an hour or to help save some dollars in electricity bills. Ideally, the darkness will serve as a beacon to shed light on various environmental issues that countries face.
Some success stories that resulted from the hard work of citizens and the awareness and/or fund brought by Earth Hour in different countries are:
500 thousand trees planted in Uganda as a form of protest in the deforestation of ecosystems around the world.
Protection of Russia’s seas from oil pollution after a bill passed in congress due to 120,000 signatures.
3.4 million hectares or 4 per cent of sea in Argentina is now protected compared to a previous 1 per cent.
This year, countries like Brazil, Malaysia, Nepal, Russia, Switzerland and Wales are hoping that this year’s Earth Hour will help in achieving legislation goals from protection of water resources and the Arctic to providing subsidies for solar power and creation of fair climate objectives in line with UN’s climate change conference last year.
What’s in it for me?
Unless you are living under a rock, you might have noticed several violent weather phenomenon. Most of us have had at least experienced one of these weather related calamities such as strong typhoons, hail, unexpected amount of snow, extreme cold or hot temperatures, flash flood, and uncontrollable bushfires.
Scientists believe that all of these, although they occur naturally, are happening in extremes because of global warming. Global warming, caused by the carbon dioxide humans produce by using fossil fuels like coal and petrol, is causing a change in the earth’s climate.
These changes in the weather can affect our lifestyle and most importantly threaten our lives and the lives of the future generation.
According to experts, climate change caused or is causing the rise of different infectious diseases like malaria, dengue, Lyme disease, hantavirus and zika virus, to name a few.
Climate change causes the destruction of different habitats of animals that may lead to extinction. We are not talking about dinosaurs but animals that we encounter in the present such as frogs and sea turtles, orangutans, tigers, pandas, polar bears, elephants, and whales.
Global warming causes the melting of ice in the north and south poles. It also makes the ocean water acidic, killing sea shells, upsetting the balance in marine life and has a potential to kill several marine species.
This can further affect the food chain as well.
Experts believe that the rising of the seas will claim cities and even countries submerging them under the water much like the story of Atlantis.
The Philippines is experiencing the one of the fastest rise in sea water level, more than 5 times the global average, and may displace 13 million people.
Drought will be commonplace climate change is not reversed. Imagine what Australia, the driest inhabited continent, will be like if we do not cut back on our CO2?
As a Filipino song goes, “ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay, magkaugnay ang lahat.” Every one of us belongs to an ecosystem, we affect each other and we thrive in the balance of that system. An imbalance can cause disaster to a specie – any specie.
Last year in Paris, the United Nations together with different 196 national leaders agree that something has to be done with climate change. If not for ourselves, for our children and their children’s children. The leaders are convinced that they do not have the courage to face their grandchildren’s children if they know they were not able to help fix earth.
As Britain’s Prince Charles is quoted saying “I urge you to consider the needs of the youngest generation, because none of us has the right to assume that for our today they should give up their tomorrow.”
Beyond the Hour
Earth Hour is symbolic and the organizers are challenging participants to do more beyond the hour.
What can we do as individuals?
Our generation is a powerful one, thanks to the social media. We have all the freedom to look for information, share opinion and influence people as well.
Earth Hour is encouraging participants to share the light. Whether or not you are participating in the Earth Hour, use your power to spread the word about climate change.
Refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle
We have introduced a lot of man made things on earth. I am not against progress and advancement but progress for progress’s sake is counterproductive.
Progress should be sustainable so that resources would still be available for future generations. We are only temporary owners of the land we stand on, yes we can pass the land title to our children’s children as inheritance but what use is it if it is barren?
What use are all the riches you get from exploiting resources now when all you can ever pass on to your children is a dumpsite of plastic, broken appliances, and toxic materials?
Refuse materials that are toxic.
Reduce the use of materials that are harmful to the environment.
Reuse materials you already have.
Recycle before throwing out.
Electric consumption consciousness
Reducing our carbon footprint can greatly reduce the warming of the earth. Let us make it a habit to turn off and unplug unused and unnecessary appliances and gadgets daily.
Use energy efficient lighting and electronics – they may be a little more expensive at first but they are worth it since they usually save more on electric bills.
If we look into our daily routine and practices, we will find that we are unconsciously wasteful of resources like water and energy.
Most of the time, for ease and convenience of use or because it is tradition or it is trendy, we sacrifice what is best for our environment. We do not realize that such decisions affect us and our future.
Living moderately may mean, using public transport or carpooling. Using public beaches instead of filling up your own pool or limiting your wardrobe to a couple of basic shirts, pants and shoes. It also means eating mostly food harvested locally than imported ones to lessen pollution brought about pesticides and shipping.
Like Gandhi would say, “”live simply so others may simply live.” If we make the necessary changes and sacrifices now, our children’s grandchildren will still have a chance to live pleasantly on earth.
Involve, initiate and innovate
Again, as influencers, involve as many of your circles and initiate projects that would help the cause.
If you can, innovate sustainable ways to help all of us continue to live in progress without hurting the environment.
All the things mentioned already invite us to act. However, starting to take action is usually hard so I thought it has to be said again.
Stand up for the environment and make a choice. What you can change about yourself, your family, your community and your country?
What little step can you do now and what can you commit to keep doing in the future?
Let us all act to change climate change.
According to most scientists, the earth is on the brink. Governments and leaders should put climate change as their primary concern and unless they put in policies and laws that will protect the environment first before any economic deal then we cannot feel the change in the most pronounced way necessary.
However, our efforts still count. Collectively, our actions will contribute to the change we desire. If leaders see that we are all for the protection of the environment, they would most likely pursue it as well (especially with elections coming).
In addition, a change in lifestyle and in how we view and deal with our surroundings can be passed on to the next generation. This ensures that the environment will have a better future.
Make a stand and be an agent of change.