Earth Hour. Why Should We Participate?

29 March, 2014


Should we participate in earth hour?


For those who don’t know, Earth Hour is an annual event organized by The World Wildlife Foundation. Every year, people around the world turn off their non-necessary lights for 1-hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. This year it will take place on Saturday March 29, from 8:30-9:30pm.


As with almost anything, there are people who are for and against Earth Hour. Well meaning environmentalists will always campaign for awareness and action. That said, in the past few weeks it’s been interesting to examine the reasons why somebody might oppose Earth Hour.


By now, it’s becoming a widely accepted fact that climate change is real and is being caused by the actions of humans. Conspiracy theorists will deny it until the very end, and of course won’t be celebrating Earth Hour. Curiously though, some people that I’ve spoken to tell me that they are environmentalists, but they will not be participating in Earth Hour either. They usually give two reasons why.


Earth Hour might not reduce our C02 emissions at all


A quick google search will show several well-written analytical articles talking about the effects of Earth Hour on actual CO2 reduction- it’s not too pretty. In fact, if the world turning off the lights had a direct relationship to C02 reduction, we’d only be cutting back to the tune of China stopping emissions for about 4 minutes. However, a candle directly emits roughly the same amount of C02 as it takes to power a light bulb. So in reality, if our candle to light bulb ratio is equal, we aren’t doing too much but spending an hour fumbling in dimly lit rooms.


We are doing more harm than good when we try to promote Earth Hour


This one is debatable, but another argument I often hear is that we are actually harming the planet by trying to promote Earth Hour. I’ve seen a few people point at flyers and pamphlets to decry the amount of paper used promoting the hour of darkness. It’s something we forget often when combating big oil and energy consumption, but environmentalism has its roots in saving the trees. As we move into the digital age there is a shrinking need for printing promotional materials on paper, but how much of an impact do you think marketing Earth Hour actually has?


So when we look at Earth Hour from an energy conservation perspective, it might not be helping at all. So why do we bother celebrating it?


Earth Hour is a global testament to our efforts against climate change. This year a record 170 countries have pledged to show their support. While the environmentalists who oppose Earth Hour are well meaning, it’s actually not about reducing our impact in the moment. Even if we might not be making progress within the hour, it symbolizes our commitment to make a difference in the hours after the lights have been turned back on. Earth Hour helps us realize how unessential a lot of the electricity we use really is, and it helps us spread the message that yes: we can fix this mess we’ve made for ourselves. Tonight, switch off the lights at 8:30 and tell everyone that you are willing to take a stand and show how much you care about the future of this planet.


This post is a part of a hidden collection about a charity centred business I launched in 2013/14. The home post is here.