Earth Hour is an ambitious, but necessary individual action that cuts across the world’s culture, languages, religions and social groups, to allow ordinary people to step up and do something local to affect global environmental change.
The earth event is held worldwide annually encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.This year marks the tenth Earth Hour.
Millions of people in countries and territories around the world will show they care about our planet by participating in some way in Earth Hour. The Hour is not only about how much energy is saved during that time, although that too is important as we consider renewable energy strategies and discuss the impact of global warming and the damage caused by fossil fuel use worldwide over the last century. But, this is not an ‘energy savings’ event. It is bigger than that. It is about highlighting issues facing the planet and inspiring people to live more sustainably.
The idea is that the choices people make and the actions they take after the hour is up can help reduce the impacts of climate change on the planet, its wildlife and future generations.
Of course, a campaign to turn off lights for one hour in a country where a significant percentage of the population lives in areas where they have no electricity or no regular access to affordable electric lights is a bit silly. But, there are other ways to express a concern about sustainable development in our local areas.
In Namibia, for example, those who can should contact World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and donate to anti-poaching or sustainable development programs. Rural people in rhino and elephant areas can be extra alert from this day forward about movements of strange people in their areas and they can commit themselves to NOT assisting poachers, regardless of the money offered.
We can become aware of how we work with our abundant wildlife and begin to support the efforts of Conservancy Game Guards, National Park Rangers and Ministry of Environment and Tourism officials.
Those who can should commit to regularly buying products made and marketed by local miners, communal conservancies and local SMEs. Visit lodges and campsites in conservancies as a first choice while on holiday.
“The Earth as an organism is in dire straits and with it, all that is within it and on it, including humanity…let us rethink and realise and fully recognize our interdependence and connectedness to the earth. In the end, we are the earth and will return to earth. When earth is no more then, we too are no more. Re-think,” says Dr. Sem Shikongo, Director of Tourism, Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
WWF branches around the world take an active role in Earth Day and you can take time to see what they are up to this year.
“Our small initiative for Earth Hour [in Namibia], which we hope will grow into a larger one over the years, is to facilitate the donation of eight solar powered electric cycles to game guards in Salambala Conservancy, which also has a joint-venture lodge together with Gondwana: Camp Chobe. This is both a conservation effort and an energy initiative,” says Steve Felton, WWF in Namibia and NACSO Communications Adviser.
“It’s all about environmental and conservation awareness not just for Earth Hour, but always.”