Where EARTH-HOUR began?
In 2007, WWF-Australia inspired Sydney residents to show their support for climate change action in the first ever Earth Hour event. It showed that everyone, from children to CEOs and politicians, have the power to change the world they live in. In Sydney, Australia, 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. In 2008, the plan was to take Earth Hour to the rest of Australia. But then the City of Toronto in Canada, signed up and it wasn’t long before 35 countries and almost 400 cities and towns were part of the event. It said something compelling to the world: that the climate challenges facing our planet are so significant that change needs to be global. With the invitation to ‘switch off’ extended to everyone, Earth Hour quickly became an annual global event. It’s scheduled on the last Saturday of every March – closely coinciding with the equinox to ensure most cities are in darkness as it rolled out around the Earth.
In 2011, Earth Hour saw hundreds of millions of people across 135 countries switch off for an hour. But it also marked the start of something new – going beyond the hour to commit to lasting action on climate change. And with the power of social networks behind the Earth Hour message, we hope to attract even more participation so we can build a truly global community committed to creating a more sustainable planet.
How does climate change occur?
A continuous flow of energy from the sun heats the Earth. Naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, known as greenhouse gases, trap this heat like a blanket, keeping the Earth at an average of 15 degrees Celsius – warm enough to sustain life. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most significant of these gases. The amount of naturally produced CO2 is almost perfectly balanced by the amount naturally removed through photosynthesis and its dissolution in oceans. However, the overuse of fossil fuels is leading to increased CO2 in the atmosphere, trapping more and more heat and warming the Earth. As a result, we’re seeing more dramatic weather patterns across the globe. The effects of Earth’s changing weather not only causes devastating natural disasters but shrinking of the world’s ice shelves and glaciers due to warming sea water. Because ice acts as a solar reflector, the less ice there is the less heat the Earth reflects.
Why is climate change happening?
There’s more than a 90% probability that human activities over the last 250 years have warmed the planet. That’s according to the 2007 Assessment Report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – an organisation made up of thousands of independent scientists worldwide. Likewise, WWF’s Living Planet Report, concludes that humanity’s overconsumption of food, material goods, fossil fuels, and non-renewable resources is putting a huge toll on the planet, exceeding its capacity to sustain us. Forests absorb and remove CO2 from the atmosphere. So areas undergoing excessive deforestation experience higher carbon emissions. Agriculture is the second largest greenhouse gas emitter after fossil fuels. Methane produced by livestock, manure management, the burning of savannah, and the conversion of forests to pasture land are all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
How can we be more sustainable?
WWF’s Energy Report provides a realistic scenario of what the world could be like in 2050, running wholly on renewable energy.
Although the journey to a sustainable future may seem difficult to imagine, it is far from impossible. We can all do our part individually and together. We can celebrate our planet one day a year for Earth Hour – and go beyond the hour towards a sustainable future.
Join us tonight, at Tubu Tree Camp, and make a difference!