Earth Hour

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Earth Hour's logo

Earth Hour is a worldwide movement for the planet organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday in March, as a symbol for their commitment to the planet.[1] It was famously started as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then it has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide. Today, Earth Hour engages a massive mainstream community on a broad range of environmental issues. The one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.

Earth Hour 2015 was on Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in a location's local time. Earth Hour 2016 will be on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants' local time.[2]

History[edit]

Conception and Start: 2004-2007[edit]

In 2004, confronted with scientific findings, WWF Australia met with advertising agency Leo Burnett Sydney to "discuss ideas for engaging Australians on the issue of climate change".[3] The idea of a large scale switch off was coined and developed in 2006, originally under the working title "The Big Flick". WWF Australia presented their concept to Fairfax Media who, along with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, agreed to back the event.[3] The 2007 Earth Hour was held on 31 March in Sydney, Australia at 7:30 pm, local time.

In October 2007 San Francisco ran its own "Lights Out" program inspired by the Sydney Earth Hour.[4] After their successful event in October, the organisers decided to rally behind the Earth Hour being planned for March 2008.[5]

2008[edit]

Overview of Sydney during Earth Hour 2008

Earth Hour 2008 was held internationally on March 29, 2008 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time, marking the first anniversary of the event. With 35 countries around the world participating as official flagship cities and over 400 cities also supporting, Earth Hour 2008 was celebrated on all seven continents. Landmarks all around the world turned off their non-essential lighting for Earth Hour, including the Sydney Opera House (Sydney, Australia), Empire State Building (New York City, USA), Sears Tower (now Willis Tower, Chicago, USA), National Monument (Jakarta, Indonesia), Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, USA), Bank of America Plaza (Atlanta, USA), Space Needle (Seattle, USA), Table Mountain (Cape Town, South Africa), the Colosseum (Rome, Italy), Azrieli Center (Tel Aviv, Israel), Royal Castle (Stockholm, Sweden), the CN Tower (Toronto, Canada), SM Mall of Asia, SM Science Discovery Center (Manila, Philippines), Suva (Fiji), Nidaros Cathedral (Trondheim, Norway), Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), KL Tower (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), Wat Arun Temple (Bangkok, Thailand), The London City Hall (London, England) and the Royal Liver Building (Liverpool, United Kingdom),

The official website for the event, earthhour.org, received over 6.7 million unique visitors in the week leading up to Earth Hour. Other websites took part in the event, with Google's homepage going "dark" on the day Earth Hour took place.

According to a Zogby International online survey 36 million people participated in Earth Hour 2008. The survey also showed there was a 4 percentage point increase in awareness of environmental issues such as climate change, directly after the event.[citation needed]

2008 participants[edit]

Earth Hour 2008 included 26 major cities worldwide and 300 smaller towns shutting off their lights.[6]

Scheduling[edit]

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House were darkened during Earth Hour 2007.

Since Earth Hour for 2008 was on a Saturday, many high schools in the Greater Toronto Area participated by turning off half the lights in classrooms during the last hour of school on Friday, March 28, 2008. Although the tagline of Earth Hour 2008 was officially, "See the difference you can make", the official radio advertisement ended with the tagline, "Dark city, bright idea."

Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv darkened for Earth Hour 2010.

Tel Aviv scheduled their Earth Hour for Thursday 27 March 2008 to avoid conflict with Sabbath.[7] Dublin moved their Earth Hour to between 9 and 10 p.m. due to their northern geographical location.[8]

Reduced energy consumption[edit]

Colosseum darkened for Earth Hour 2008
Auditorio de Tenerife darkened for Earth Hour

According to WWF Thailand, Bangkok decreased electricity usage by 73.34 megawatts, which, over one hour, is equivalent to 41.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide.[9] The Bangkok Post gave different figures of 165 megawatt-hours and 102 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This was noted to be significantly less than a similar campaign initiated by Bangkok's City Hall the previous year in May, when 530 megawatt-hours were saved and 143 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission were cut.[10]

Philippine Electricity Market Corp. noted that power consumption dropped by about 78.63 megawatts in Metro Manila, and up to 102.2 megawatts on Luzon.[11] The maximum demand drop of around 39 MW was experienced at 8:14 p.m. in Metro Manila and of around 116 MW at 8:34 p.m. in the Luzon grid.[12]

Ontario used approximately 900 megawatt-hours less electrical energy during Earth Hour. At one point, Toronto, Ontario saw an 8.7% reduction in consumption as compared to a typical March Saturday night.[13]

Ireland, as a whole, had a reduction in electricity use of about 1.5% for the evening.[14] In the three-hour period between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., there was a reduction of 50 megawatts, saving 150 megawatt-hours, or approximately 60 tonnes of carbon dioxide.[15]

Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands public open space in the background, before (inset) and during Earth Hour 2008

In Dubai, where external lighting on several major city landmarks was turned off and street lighting in selected areas was dimmed by 50%, the Electricity and Water Authority reported savings of 100 megawatt-hours of electricity. This represented a 2.4% reduction in demand compared to before the hour began.[16]

The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand, switched off its usual floodlighting during the Earth Hour, and re-lit afterwards. (the red lights in the middle image are aircraft warning lights)

The best result was from Christchurch, New Zealand, with the city reporting a drop of 13% in electricity demand. However, national grid operator Transpower reported that New Zealand's power consumption during Earth Hour was 335 megawatts, higher than the 328 megawatt average of the previous two Saturdays.[17] Melbourne, Australia reduced demand by 10.1%. Sydney, being the city that participated in both the 2007 and 2008 Earth Hours, cut electricity consumption by 8.4%. This is less than the previous year's 10.2%; however, Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley made the claim that after factoring margin of error, the participation in this city was the same.[18]

The worst result was from Calgary, Canada. The city's power consumption actually went up 3.6% at the hour's peak electricity demand.[19] Calgary's weather plays a large role in power consumption, and the city experienced weather 12 °C (around 22 °F) colder than the previous Saturday's recorded temperature in the inaugural year.[20] Enmax, the city's power supplier, has confirmed that in all subsequent years, Calgarians have not supported the Earth Hour initiative, noting that power consumption changed only marginally during the hour in 2010 and 2011 (1% or less) and in 2012 and 2013 showed no appreciable change in power usage at all.[21][22]

Celebrations around the world[edit]

Google[edit]
A web screenshot of Google Canada's 'darkened' homepage on 29 March 2008.

Earth Hour has also received free publicity from the Google corporation. From 12:00 a.m. on 29 March 2008 until the end of Earth Hour, the Google homepage in the United States, Colombia, Canada, Denmark, Ireland and the UK was turned to a black background. Their tagline is, "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn – Earth Hour."[31] However, Google stated that for 2009 they would not turn the page black again due to the confusion it caused many users.[32] A common misconception is that having a black background on a web page reduces the power consumption of monitors; LCD monitors use a constant amount of power regardless of which colors are shown. This is not the case for organic LED monitors,[33] though they are not currently in popular use.

TV channels[edit]

2009[edit]

Earth Hour 2009 was from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, March 28, 2009. The campaign was titled "Vote Earth" and was dubbed "the world's first global vote" with one billion votes was the stated aim for Earth Hour 2009,[37] in the context of the pivotal 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference. WWF reported that 88 countries and 4,159 cities participated in Earth Hour 2009,[38] ten times more cities than Earth Hour 2008 had (2008 saw 400 cities participate).

The global campaign poster for Earth Hour 2009 titled "Vote Earth" created by Shepard Fairey.

Among the participants in 2009 was, for the first time, the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.[39]

The Philippines saw participation from 647 cities and towns; over 10 million Filipinos were estimated to have joined in the hour-long lights-off.[40] This was followed by Greece with 484 cities and towns participating, and Australia with 309.[41]

Despite official organisers WWF stating that the event is not about the reduction in electricity, a number of public institutions reported on electricity savings in their cities to see participation numbers. The Canadian province of Ontario, excluding the city of Toronto, saw a decrease of 6% in electricity usage while Toronto saw a decrease of 15.1% (nearly doubled from 8.7% the previous year) as many businesses darkened, including the landmark CN Tower.[42]

The Philippines was able to save 611 MWh of electricity during the time period, which is said to be equivalent to shutting down a dozen coal-fired power plants for an hour.[43]

Swedish electricity operator Svenska Kraftnät recorded a 2.1% decrease in power consumption from its projected figure between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. The following hour, the corresponding number was 5%.[44] This is equivalent to the consumption of approximately half a million households out of the total 4.5 million households in Sweden.[45]

According to Vietnam Electricity Company, Vietnam's electricity demand fell 140 MWh during Earth Hour.

Participation[edit]

96 countries and territories on 6 continents participated in the event in 2009.

Participating television and radio stations[edit]

Malaysia's 8TV halted transmission for one hour starting from 20:30 [46]

2010[edit]

The metal structure of the greenhouses of the curitiban Botanic Garden (Curitiba, Paraná, Southern Brazil), with its lights off on 27 March 2010
A picture of 1600 pandas (made in Thailand by the World Wide Fund for Nature) exposed in Boulogne-Billancourt (France) on the occasion of Earth Hour

Earth Hour 2010 was held from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time, 27 March.[47] In Israel, the hour was held on 22 April.[48]

Earth Hour 2010 was reportedly the biggest Earth Hour yet, aiming to garner more than the one billion participant goal of 2009's Earth Hour.[49]

126 countries participated in Earth Hour 2010.[50]

In the United States polling shows that an estimated 90,000,000 Americans participated in Earth Hour as lights were turned off around the country, including landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, the Las Vegas Strip, the Empire State Building and Niagara Falls.

Earth Hour will be carried out in practical ways, as cities and landmarks apply the core principle of turning off the lights to their everyday routine. In Chicago, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) developed lighting guidelines to reduce light pollution, and reduce the carbon footprint of downtown buildings. Mount Rushmore in South Dakota will now start powering down each night around 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m.

In Vietnam, electricity demand fell 500,000 kWh during Earth Hour 2010, which was three times larger than the first time the country joined the event in 2009.[51]

In the Philippines, 1,067 towns and cities pledged participation in 2010 and over 15 million Filipinos participated in the event.

About 4000 cities participated, including landmarks such as Big Ben, the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Forbidden City.[52]

Celebrity Earth Hour ambassadors included South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, President of Vietnam Nguyễn Minh Triết,[53] and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

Earth Hour has garnered support from many corporations including Coca-Cola Enterprises, Wells Fargo, IKEA, HSBC, PwC, Accenture and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Participating TV channels and radio stations[edit]

  • National Geographic Channel Asia and Cartoon Network both suspended broadcasting from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
  • Philippines GMA Network turn off lights in their building from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m and ABS-CBN stop broadcasting during the earth hour as well as closing the lights.
  • Vietnam's FBNC channel joined hands with Earth Hour Vietnam.
  • The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVOntario ran its full program running only on candlelight again.
  • The Agenda with Steve Paikin on mnit ran its full program running only on candlelight again.

Innovative environmental media[edit]

Australian advertising agency Wunderman Sydney produced a marketing piece to support Earth Hour, their pro-bono client since 2009. To encourage businesses to participate in Earth Hour 2010, five-thousand 'Plant Spikes'[54] were produced and distributed to offices around Australia. The spike was designed to be inserted in office pot plants by plant hire company TPR Group as they serviced plants in businesses nationwide.

To ensure the spike was completely friendly environmentally, the agency partnered with printer STI Lilyfield to invent an organic printer's ink containing natural plant fertilizer derived from Durvillaea potatorum and extract of Ascophyllum nodosum to promote healthy plant growth and improve resistance to insect and fungal attack. Printed on 100% FSC-certified paper, this ink fertilized the pot plants as the spike biodegraded naturally in the plant's soil.

2011[edit]

Earth Hour poster from WWF-China, encouraging people to make lifestyle changes beyond the 60 minute event.

Earth Hour 2011 was the biggest year in the campaign's five-year history, reaffirming it as the largest ever voluntary action for the environment. In 2011, the tagline "Beyond the Hour" was adopted by organisers as a way to encourage people to take their commitment to the cause beyond the 60 minute event. Together with agency Leo Burnett, Earth Hour unveiled an updated planet themed logo that included a small plus symbol to the right of the signature "60" which was used in previous years. The 60+ symbol continues to be the main logo used by campaign organisers around the world.

Earth Hour 2011 took place in a record 5,251 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories in all seven continents.[55] It had an estimated reach of 1.8 billion people across the globe. In addition to this, the campaign's digital footprint grew to 91 million.[56]

In 2011, some of the world's most well known landmarks, including the Forbidden City, Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Golden Gate Bridge, Table Mountain, Christ the Redeemer statue and Sydney Opera House switched off their lights for Earth Hour's global "lights out" event.

In India, Earth Hour 2011 was held on 26 March 2011 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. IST, flagged off by the Chief Minister of Delhi Sheila Dixit and Earth Hour 2011 Ambassador and Bollywood Heroine Vidya Balan in the presence of Jim Leape, Director General, WWF International.[57] Rosebowl channel suspended broadcasting from 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. to mark the observance of Earth Hour.

All seven continents joined in with turning their lights off. In Azerbaijan, Maiden Tower darkened for Earth Hour.[58]

The Philippines, which has been an active participant of the Earth Hour, had an early "earth hour" when power was accidentally interrupted,[59] plunging Metro Manila and nearby provinces into darkness. After power was restored, major buildings, commercial centers and residential areas in Metro Manila and most provinces continued to turn off their lights, while participating channels in the Philippines, ABS-CBN and Cartoon Network halted their transmissions for an hour.

30 provinces and cities in Vietnam took part in Earth Hour 2011 with the main event held in Nha Trang. The nation's electricity demand fell 400,000 kWh, which is one fifth less than the previous year's. Vietnam managed to save 500 million VND (US$23,809) thanks to the saved power.[60]

YouTube promoted the Earth Hour by changing its logo, and by adding a switch on/off feature near the title of each video, so that users can change the background color from white to black.

One of the least co-operative areas traditionally has been Alberta; in 2008, Calgary's power consumption went up during Earth Hour. The trend continued in 2011 when Edmonton's power usage also increased. While Calgary's power usage went down in 2011 during the event, electricity officials could not distinguish their readings between normal usage and a conscious attempt to participate.[61]

2012[edit]

It was announced that the Earth Hour Global headquarters was moving from Sydney to Singapore in February 2012. A launch event took place at ION Orchard on 20 February, with the move supported by Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and WWF-Singapore.[62]

Earth Hour 2012 was observed on 31 March 2012 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (participant's local time).[63] It took place in more than 7000 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories, making it the biggest growth year for the campaign since 2009. It was also the first year that Earth Hour was celebrated in space, with Dutch astronaut André Kuipers tweeting at various moments during the event's trek around the globe.[64]

I Will If You Will[edit]

Earth Hour's 2012 campaign poster and tagline Dare the World to Save the Planet".

The global theme for WWF's Earth Hour in 2012 was "I Will If You Will", a two-year campaign aimed to engage the movement's followers to go beyond 60 minutes and to challenge their own networks of friends to become more environmentally conscious throughout the year. Using a YouTube platform,[65] the campaign saw video challenges set by celebrities, politicians, organisations and everyday individuals that were fulfilled when a designated number of accepts were achieved on the platform.

The campaign was supported by supermodel Miranda Kerr, who conducted a free yoga class after 500 fans accepted her challenge, and Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo who dyed his beard green at the Rio+20 Conference in South Africa after 10,000 people accepted his challenge to support Earth Hour.

As in the previous year, YouTube changed its logo and added a light switch feature near video titles, so that users can change the background color from white to black. This support helped generate 4.6 million hits on the "I Will If You Will" platform during the week of Earth Hour, with more than 200,000 people personally pledging to take a direct action beyond the 60 minute event.

Environmental legislation change in Russia[edit]

For the first time, Earth Hour's impact reach beyond symbolism when WWF-Russia generated 122,000 signatures on an Earth Hour petition to strengthen "oil pollution" laws for marine waters of Russia. The petition was entered into the Russian parliament after the March event, and a strengthened law to protect the country's seas was passed in December that year. [66] WWF-Russia had used the "I Will If You Will" challenge idea to generate signatures on the petition, with various Russian celebrities including politician and former boxer Nikolai Valuev challenging the country to sign the petition.[67]

2013[edit]

Italy, Verona, Arena with backlight on on square Bra, in the bottom the Town Hall in 2013 WWF Verona Paolo Villa
Italy, Verona, Arena with backlight off on square Bra, in the bottom Town Hall in 2013 WWF Verona Paolo Villa

Earth Hour 2013 was held across the world on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time[68] to avoid taking place after European Summer Time begins, ensuring the greatest impact of the lights off event. It was also changed to avoid coinciding with Western Christianity Holy Saturday, which falls on March 30 of that year.

Globally, there was a continuation with the "I Will If You Will" theme, with certain countries and territories producing video challenges from notable ambassadors to encourage participation in the event and certain environmental actions. Orgnaisers note that in 2013, many countries and territories began producing environmental outcomes through the event.

Africa[edit]

In 2013, the world's first Earth Hour Forest began in Uganda, an ongoing project that aims to restore 2700 hectares of degraded land. Standard Chartered Bank-Uganda pledged to help fill the forest with more than 250,000 trees.[69]

Earth Hour commemorations in Madagascar had as their highlight the distribution of one thousand wood-saving stoves to victims of the cyclone Haruna in the southern town of Toliara, extensively damaged in the February 22nd storm. WWF-Madagascar and ADES (Association pour le Développement de l'Energie Solaire) distributed an additional 2,200 wood-saving stoves later that year.

Former President of Botswana, Festus Mogae promised to plant one million indigenous trees over four years, as part of his "I Will If You Will" challenge for Earth 2013. He will kick off his IWIYW challenge by planting 100,000 trees in a severely degraded area in Southern part of the country called Goodhope. The remaining trees will be planted in other parts of the country which are also in need of land rehabilitation, such as in the North Eastern and Western part of Botswana.[70]

Europe[edit]

WWF-Russia launched its 2013 campaign aiming to secure more than 100,000 signatures from Russian citizens to petition for amendments to the current forest legislation. The petition reached more than 127,000 signatures before the Earth Hour event, ensuring the legislation was debated in the State Duma by politicians.[71]

At the global media launch for Earth Hour 2013, CEO and Co-Founder Andy Ridley spoke about the movement's significant environmental outcomes beyond the hour: "People from all walks of life, from all nations around the world, are the lifeblood of the Earth Hour interconnected global community. They have proven time and time again that if you believe in something strongly enough, you can achieve amazing things. These stories aren't unique, this is happening all over the world," he said.[72]

Participating countries[edit]

It is being celebrated in countries including:

Participating organisations[edit]

Multinational participation:

2014[edit]

Earth Hour 2014 took place on Saturday, March 29, during the same 8:30 to 9:30 pm local timeslot. Earth Hour Blue was launched as a global crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform for the planet.[86] "It is all about the collective effort of individuals around the world getting together to help fund or add their voice to support on-the-ground environmental and social projects that deliver real outcomes."[87]

The Earth Hour 2014 Report[88] highlighted a broad range of environmental outcomes achieved by the movement across 162 countries and territories around the world. More than $60,000 USD was raised on the Earth Hour Blue platform for grassroots environmental projects run by WWF. The movement also saw campaigns to help protect Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the launch of a Blue Sky App in China, and the delivery of thousands of wood efficient stoves to communities in Madagascar.

The event was also supported by the cast and producers of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, who attended the Earth Hour event held by WWF-Singapore.[89]

2015[edit]

Earth Hour 2015 took place on Saturday, March 28, again between 8:30 and 9:30 pm local time.[2] The tagline for the global campaign was "Change Climate Change", returning to the movement's original focus to initiate citizen action on global warming. A day before the event, over 170 countries and territories had confirmed their participation; with more than 1200 landmarks and close to 40 UNESCO world heritage sites set for the switch off.[90]

For the second year running, Earth Hour Blue aims to raise funds for WWF organised climate focused projects on a crowdfunding platform.[91] This year, crowdfunding projects include solar light distribution in the Philippines[92] and India,[93] and wildlife based projects from Colombia,[94] Uganda and Indonesia.[95]

2016[edit]

Earth Hour 2016 will be on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. during participants' local time. It will be the 10th year anniversary of the campaign's beginnings in Sydney, Australia.

Celebrity endorsements[edit]

Earth Hour has been supported around the world by Nelson Mandela, supermodel Miranda Kerr, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, footballer Lionel Messi, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, former US Vice President Al Gore, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, André Kuipers and the International Space Station, actress Isabel Lucas, TV stars Bill and Giuliana Rancic, Yoko Ono, Stephen Fry, Cate Blanchett, Coldplay, among many others.[citation needed]

In 2014, Earth Hour was supported by Sony Pictures and the cast of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, including actors Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx and director Marc Webb.[96] The cast put their support behind Earth Hour Blue crowdfunding projects, asking their fans to raise funds for on-the-ground environmental projects from across the world. Spider-Man and the cast and director also attended the WWF-Singapore Earth Hour event in 2014.[97]

Actress and co-founder of The Honest Company, Jessica Alba, was the Earth Hour 2013 global ambassador. Supermodel Miranda Kerr served as global ambassador in 2011 and 2012, helping launch Earth Hour's I Will If You Will platform.

Chinese actress Li Bingbing has been a longtime supporter of the campaign, attending WWF-China's Earth Hour events each year. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen is also a longtime supporter of Earth Hour, taking to social media to encourage fans in Brazil and around the world to switch off.

Organisations that support Earth Hour[edit]

Earth Hour is supported around the world by Woodland, CBRE, the National Hockey League, FIFA, UEFA, Manchester United, Hilton Hotels, Girl Scouts of the USA, World Organisation of the Scouts Movement, UNESCO, UN Environment Programme, the International Trade Union Confederation, HSBC, World Association of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, SASKEN, Miss Multinational, LUSH Cosmetics, Philips, Ikea, The Body Shop, ING Vysya Bank and more.[citation needed]

Measurement of reduction in electricity use[edit]

The Earth Hour Global FAQ page states:

Earth Hour does not purport to be an energy/carbon reduction exercise, it is a symbolic action. Therefore, we do not engage in the measurement of energy/carbon reduction levels for the hour itself. Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges. Participation in Earth Hour symbolises a commitment to change beyond the hour.[98]

A 2014 study published in Energy Research and Social Science compiled 274 measurements of observed changes in electricity demand caused by Earth Hour in 10 countries, spanning 6 years, and found that the events reduced electricity consumption an average of 4%.[99] The study noted the policy challenge of converting Earth Hour's short-term energy saving into longer-term actions, including sustained changes in behavior and investment.

Criticism[edit]

Some critics point out that the reduction in power consumption in most cases is indistinguishable from zero.[100] The Herald Sun equated the power savings in the Sydney central business district to "taking 48,613 cars off the road for 1 hour." Critics, most notably Australian Columnist Andrew Bolt pointed out that "A cut so tiny [48,613 cars off the road for 1 hour] is trivial – equal to taking six cars off the road for a year".[101]

The criticisms of Earth Hour include:

  • The Competitive Enterprise Institute has introduced an opposing Human Achievement Hour in celebration of human progress in various fields of industry, including technology, medicine, energy, and more. During this hour, the Institute suggests that people celebrate by using modern technology such as electricity, telecommunications and indoor plumbing.[102]
  • Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, wrote, "It is vital to make solar and other new technology cheaper than fossil fuels quickly so we can turn off carbon energy sources for a lot longer than one hour and keep the planet running... Fossil fuels literally gave us an enlightenment, by lighting our world and giving us protection from the fury of the elements. It is ironic that today's pure symbolism should hark back to a darker age."[103]
  • Placebo Effect of Earth Hour, several environmentalists such as Bjørn also point out to the feel good factor Earth Hour creates, noting that it is an “ineffective feel good event” that makes people feel they are doing something for the environment, while in reality the amount of carbon emissions reduced by the earth hour is negligible.[104]
  • The Christian Science Monitor said that most candles are made from paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil, a fossil fuel, and that depending on how many candles a person burns (if one uses candles during Earth Hour), whether or not they normally use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and what source of energy is used to produce their electricity, in some cases, replacing light bulbs with candles will cause an increase, instead of a decrease, in carbon dioxide emissions.[105]
  • On 29 March 2009, one day after Earth Hour 2009, Dân Trí daily newspaper published an article about the other side of Earth Hour. It was concerned that many young people chose to drive around the darkened cities for fun, exhausting petroleum instead of electricity and resulting in long-time traffic jams.[106]
  • In 2009, economist Ross McKitrick criticized the idea, saying, "Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century.[...] The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity."[107]
  • In March 2010, the Daily Telegraph quoted Ross Hayman, head of media relations at the UK National Grid, as saying "it could therefore result in an increase in carbon emissions" due to complications related to rapidly lowering then raising electricity generation.[108]
  • In February 2010, Rick Giles, president of ACT on Campus, the youth wing of New Zealand's ACT Party, appeared on the morning television show Sunrise to denounce Earth Hour and instead suggested the celebration of "Edison Hour". He argued that Earth Hour is an "anti-technology" cause, and that people will simply use candles instead, which is undesirable as they are petroleum-based. He argued that if we are heading for some kind of disaster, it makes sense to use technology to combat this.[109] Rick said "I think my argument is so powerful that it's not necessary to talk about it".
  • The Ayn Rand Institute wrote, "Participants spend an enjoyable sixty minutes in the dark, safe in the knowledge that the life-saving benefits of industrial civilization are just a light switch away... Forget one measly hour with just the lights off. How about Earth Month... Try spending a month shivering in the dark without heating, electricity, refrigeration; without power plants or generators; without any of the labor-saving, time-saving, and therefore life-saving products that industrial energy makes possible."[110]
  • Expressing sarcastic support for Earth Hour, the pro-carbon Carbon Sense Coalition wants Earth Hour to be renamed "Blackout Night", and to be held outside on the shortest and coldest day of the year "...to prepare our population for the dark days ahead".[111]
  • During the 2010 Earth Hour in the city of Uusikaupunki in Finland, a 17-year-old female motorcyclist hit a 71-year-old man, who was walking on the street instead of the sidewalk for an unknown reason. The man died from his injuries, while the motorcyclist and her passenger were uninjured. At the time of the accident the street lights had been turned off as part of the Earth Hour. The police stated that the lack of street lighting may have played a part in the accident, while the mayor believed the city's street lights would have been too dim to prevent it even if they had been on.[112][113]
  • Jeremy Clarkson, host of the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, claimed switching on all electrical items in his home as a protest against the perceived impact of Earth Hour, claiming the event would have little to no effect on attitudes towards climate change.[114]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Celebrating Earth Hour Earth Hour/WWF Website
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