Earth Hour, sample of global solidarity

What began as a local lights out event in Sydney in 2007 has since spread to 7,000 cities and 162 countries. Now called Earth Hour, the event on March 28 implies voluntary switching off of lights for one hour that day starting 8.30 pm local time everywhere.  Not that this will translate into huge sustained savings but what this aims to do is focus attention on the deleterious effects of global warming and the urgent need to adopt a sustain-able model of development. Earth Hour, which might be criticised as being mere tokenism, serves an important purpose because it forces people to pause amidst the frenetic pace of living that uses resources which one day may dry up.

Fossil fuels are the closest to running out of supply, though it may take a few more generations to happen.  The switching off of electricity, in a sense, also shows a feeling of empathy towards those people and countries which to this day do not have enough electricity and are forced to live a large part of their lives in darkness. In other words, it is an attempt to sensitise millions of people, especially in affluent countries, of the struggles their brethren in poorer nations have to experience every day. Over the years, the Earth Hour is being used to showcase concerns particular to the nations that are part of the programme. India too is part of this event and lights will go out across many parts of the country. Rashtrapati Bhavan is taking the lead and this must be appreciated as people normally look up to their leaders to validate their actions. In fact, the move to start this event could not have come at a better time as in the last few years the world has slid towards anarchy in several parts of the world and West Asia is one of the worst-hit. 

This programme Earth Hour is probably one of the most successful as there is an element of voluntariness to it. In addition, governments have started to do something coinciding with the event. Argentina reportedly used Earth Hour to push for a marine protected area in the country, scores of wood-saving stoves were handed over to families in Madagascar and in India solar powered lights were gifted to a handful of villages without electricity. The involvement of civil society, NGOs and governments for a common cause has made Earth Hour a programme a huge promise, one that can even arrest the negative changes to the world’s climate. Sounds ambitious, but then, that is the potential of Earth Hour.

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