Around 1.8 billion people across the world will once again commemorate Earth Hour today by switching off their lights and other electronic appliances for one hour to raise awareness of sustainability issues. Many of the world’s iconic buildings — from Dubai’s Burj Kalifa Tower to the Opera House in Sydney to Jakarta’s National Monument — will also turn off their lights to show their support.
This year is the sixth year of Earth Hour globally and the fourth time it has been held in Indonesia. Here, 26 cities across Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Kalimantan will participate, a significant increase from just seven cities last year.
The Earth Hour movement started in a single city, Sydney, in 2007. Five years later it’s widespread, reaching more than 1.8 billion people in 5,000 cities across 135 countries.
The massive growth of Earth Hour — globally and nationally — shows that more and more people are becoming aware of the environmental challenges we’re facing and that the effects of environmental pressures are increasing, impacting everyday life.
Today, almost every corner of our life needs electricity. Lighting at home and work, computers, charging mobile devices, air conditioning, entertainment systems, washing machines, fridges and many more demand electricity. Many don’t realize that every time we plug in or flick a power switch, we are burning fossil fuels — limited resources that take over a million years to form. We are consuming energy as if there is no limit and no alternative.
Taking part in Earth Hour is simple. Just switch off your lights and other electrical appliances between 8.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. today and show your commitment to protecting our planet.
Switching off is the global action for Earth Hour because of its simplicity. Everyone from children to the elderly can join the movement with a simple message: We care.
City administrations and committed businesses can also participate by turning off lights in their iconic landmarks, buildings, offices, signage and billboards. By switching off lights and other electronic appliances, we’re not only saving energy but also reducing electricity demand. Switching off is a voluntary action to show your support for the campaign.
But it’s not just about switching off lights for one hour once a year. It’s about giving people a voice and working together to create a better future for our planet. It’s a moment to remind ourselves and others to shift the way we consume, the way we produce and the way we live to create more sustainable habits to protect the earth.
Earth Hour has traditionally been symbolized by “60,” but in 2011 it changed to “60+” — meaning to go beyond the hour. It is not enough for us to only show and act in 60 minutes. Becoming part of the Earth Hour community requires us to live sustainably in all parts of our lives from home to work to the public arena. It means a total commitment to conservation in a world that’s rapidly heading in the opposite direction.
The actions you can take include reducing your use of plastic bags, bringing your own water bottle, avoiding Styrofoam food containers, shifting to public transportation, cycling to work or simply leaving your car at home and walking instead.
We need to balance our needs with those of the environment.
By balance, I mean becoming more aware of our impact on the earth and exploring ways we can reduce, reuse and recycle.
Like it or not, we’re addicted — addicted to energy and consuming. We forget there are still many people living in poverty, both financial and energy poor. If we continue in this direction, things will only get worse.
Moving toward more efficient use of energy can help you save money, energy and the environment. You can easily save 10 percent to 30 percent. Some of the things you can do are turn off the lights when you’re not in a room, set the air conditioner temperature at the most efficient level, use cold water for washing clothes and change to energy-saving light bulbs.
Simple action matters. Earth Hour is an opportunity to change; an hour that we hope can be the start of something bigger. It is much more than lights out. Imagine what we can achieve if we all come together for a common cause.
Dr. Seuss writes in “The Lorax” that “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Show that you care and switch off your lights and other electronic appliances between 8.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. today.
Start with yourself and spread the word around. A simple action together can make change.
Nyoman Iswarayoga is the director of the climate and energy program at WWF Indonesia.