THE earth went dark last night as millions of people around the globe made a political statement against climate change and fossil fuels, and in support of carbon cuts and renewable energy.
2017 marks the tenth anniversary of WWF’s Earth Hour, the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, which saw landmarks, homes and businesses switch off their lights at 8.30pm for one hour.
Originating in Sydney in 2007, and organised by the World Wildlife Fund, the event aims to highlight the dangers of climate change and bridge the gap between the grassroots and the corridors of power; taking climate action from conference rooms to living rooms.
It is now celebrated in 7,000 cities across 172 countries, across all continents.
“We started Earth Hour in 2007 to show leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about,” said Siddarth Das, Executive Director, Earth Hour Global.
“For that symbolic moment to turn into the global movement it is today, is really humbling and speaks volumes about the powerful role of people in issues that affect their lives.”
Earth Hour is not about how much energy is saved during the hour, but about putting the spotlight on the issues facing the planet and inspiring people to live more sustainably.
The event acts as a reminder that we are all an “integral part of climate action” and portrays a message to those in power that people care about the future of the planet.
Monuments and landmarks across the globe flicked the switch in a show of solidarity with the movement.
Kicking off the event was the Sydney Opera house and Harbour Bridge, and action then moved westward through Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
— WWF_Australia (@WWF_Australia) March 25, 2017
Other famous landmarks to take part included the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo Tower, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, London’s Buckingham Palace, the Acropolis in Athens, the Eiffel Tower and Moscow’s Kremlin.
— konsol.my (@konsolians) March 25, 2017
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) March 25, 2017
— Anna Augustson (@AAugustson) March 25, 2017
— Kelly (@kellyroosve) March 26, 2017
Singapore also held a “carbon-neutral run” to mark to event.
— ivey (@ivey00880866) March 25, 2017
Last year, scientists once again recorded record-breaking temperatures across the globe.
A report released by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday, detailed that 2016 was the warmest on record and the planet saw exceptionally low sea ice along with unabated sea level rise and ocean heat.
The report showed that 2016 was a remarkable 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, which is 0.06 degrees Celsius above the previous record set in 2015.
“This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system,” Petteri Taalas, WMO secretary-general, said in a press release. “Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were also the warmest on record, global sea levels continued to rise, and Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average for most of the year.”
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) March 23, 2017
Taalas went on to add that with levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system had “become more and more evident.”
Earth Hour attempts to go some way towards educating people of this mounting problem, with the hope to galvanise people into taking action.
“Climate change is visible proof that our actions can have a ripple effect beyond physical borders,” Das said. “It is up to each of us to ensure the impact we create helps instead to improve the lives of those around us and elsewhere, at present and in the future.”