Monday, March 12, 2012

A global cheer for the Earth

On a gloomy night in March last year, I found myself winding through the cobbled slate-grey streets of Paris. As I rounded a corner, I found what I’d been searching for, where at Trocadero Square hundreds of candle-illuminated paper mache pandas, representing each of the remaining 1600 pandas left in the wild. Magnifique! My French is limited to a spattering of poorly executed phrases but as dignitaries gave speeches and hit a grandiose red button that plunged Eiffel Tower into darkness, I could not help but be touched at the symbolism of how when a group of people come together, so much can be achieved. It’s overwhelming to think that one of the world’s most iconic monuments in the “City of Lights” can be shut down because climate change is recognised collectively as of global importance.

The largest Earth Hour event I have been to was Sydney 2009. Sitting having a drink at a harbor-side bar waiting for the hour of darkness to fall upon us, masses of people started to congregate. As Earth Hour arrived, and the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge plummeted into darkness, accompanied by other buildings in the skyline, you heard a roar of the crowd cheering. That’s the feeling that reminds you why you catch a train rather than drive, why you turn off lights as you walk out of a room, why you send an email to the government to deter logging. You do it because like you, there are millions of people around the world making the same changes and sending the message they care about the Earth. That cheer reminds you, you are not alone.

Earth Hour has grown from a Sydney initiative in 2007 to encompass millions of people in over 5,000 cities across 135 countries who are to turning out their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. International landmarks powering down include Times Square and the Empire State Building in New York, and Dubai’s Burg Khalifa - the tallest building in the world. Even an Inuit igloo is taking part.

This year in Australia many totemic structures have already signed up to be part of Earth Hour 2012. The Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Art Gallery of NSW, the Victorian State Library, Victorian Parliament House, Melbourne’s Federation Square and Southern Cross Station , Brisbane’s Story Bridge Hotel, Adelaide Zoo and Aquatic Centre as well as Luna Park have all put their hands up to turn their lights down for the hour. Many of them will have gathering and events where you can join with other patrons of the Earth and experience the cause that unites us.

However, as in years past, others have opted for smaller events. These may be at home or as part of a community event. Events include sustainable food, acoustic performances, star gazing and other imaginative, Earth-friendly entertainment. WWF has created a great way for these events to be shared. It’s called Earth Hour Unplugged and you can find an event in your area. If you can’t find one, start one and post it on the site! Simply visit Here you can also add a fundraising element to your event to assist WWF, one of the world’s key players in ceasing Climate Change, with much needed funds.

Earth Hour is the perfect time for all individuals who love and care for our environment and are committed to tackling Climate Change to unite. Regardless of the measure you have taken, from in your own home to working with governments, this is your opportunity on one night to feel the power of what a gathering of people can accomplish.

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