27 March, 2011

Earth Hour - Campaigning for Mother Earth

Last night from 8.30-9.30 pm was Earth Hour. Did you participate in this global event by a simple action: switching off non-essential lightings?

I was supposed to be watching the Live broadcast of MY FM Awards on Astro at my friend’s house, but then I decided to stay at home for an hour and managed to make my family turn off the lights that we didn’t need. Like many others, they don’t see the necessity of Earth Hour. Worse still, they don’t really bother about the environment. You know, as an (self declared) environmentalist, I feel that I’ve failed terribly. I failed to convince my family to join me in caring for the environment, and I failed to change the mindset of friends who always say “I don’t care” or “none of my business” when the topic of environment is raised.

I believe all environmentalists and those who have made an effort to protect the environment would feel the same disappointment I’ve felt.

Oops, I sidetracked. Let’s go back to Earth Hour.

“Don’t bother, Earth Hour is not going to make any difference anyway.”

**Grin** How many of you out there who have made or heard this remark? Honestly speaking, I said something similar myself when I heard of Earth Hour for the first time: “Switching off lights for one hour can help cool the Earth down? What kind of bullshit is this?” Haha, what a shame, right, to hear this statement from an environmentalist? Like many people today, I didn’t know the main purpose and concept behind Earth Hour. But after learning in depth on electricity generation (especially on fossil-fueled and coal-fired power plants) and reading up on Earth Hour, it finally dawned on me the importance of Earth Hour.

Let’s put scientific data, explanation, proofs and so forth aside for now, and go down to the heart of Earth Hour. First we need to answer the question “WHAT is Earth Hour?” and “WHY is it important?”, which will bring us to a proper and better understanding of Earth Hour.

Photo courtesy of Fabio Lugoboni

I shall be using the Earth Hour FAQs from Earth Hour’s Official Website as a guideline as I explain in layman’s language in hope that it could be easily understood. You may also open the FAQs page for reference as you read the explanations below.

What exactly is Earth Hour?
“Earth Hour is a global grass-roots movement encouraging individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take positive actions for the environment, and celebrating their commitment to the planet by switching off their lights for one designated hour.

Earth Hour 2011 aims to show the actions that people, businesses and governments worldwide are taking to reduce their environmental impact.” (Adapted from Earth Hour: FAQs)
In other words: Earth Hour is just a simple campaign (movement) carried out in a worldwide basis (global), where everyone is requested to switch off the lights as a sign of his/her readiness and willingness to make a difference (to take positive actions for the environment) together with people around the world.

When we join in the global action of switching off our lights this night, we are telling Mother Earth this: “Dear Mother Earth, together with the people around the world, I hereby acknowledge my love for you by switching off my lights. This is the evident of my willing and loving commitment towards protecting you.”

Now, Earth Hour is NOT A SOLUTION to global warming. Turning off the lights is a symbolic gesture to show that we care. Earth Hour is a global event because we “share a unified moment” through a simple action. It shows us that “a solution to the world’s environmental challenges is possible if we work on them together” (Earth Hour: FAQs). This answers the question of why Earth Hour is important, and why as individuals our participation is important.

But is that all? Does it mean that we only take action for that one designated hour and after that, we can start wasting our resources again? Of course not!

Let us look at another scenario: During a wedding, the groom and bride exchanged their vows of love and commitment to each other. Does it mean that they were committed to each other only at that very moment they were making their vows? Or do they have to make an effort every moment of their lives to keep their marriage going?

So it is with Earth Hour. It doesn’t just stop there. Earth Hour is a yearly reminder of and the renewal of our commitment and responsibility towards the environment. It calls everyone living in this Planet Earth to continually adopt environmentally sustainable lifestyles, taking personal accountability for the adverse impact we’ve made on our Planet.

Have you made your commitment yet? If not, it’s still not too late to start today. And hopefully, more people would be able to join the next Earth Hour in 2012. Let us together make a difference, to save the Earth, our home!

Here's Hong Kong's Earth Hour. Well done, Hong Kong!

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