Yes, the title of my blog is inspired from the famous line “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” from King Richard III penned by Shakespeare. In the act, Richard is beaten and helpless on the battleground offering his entire kingdom for the want of a mere horse. The line shows his desperation for help, for saving his own life. This year’s Earth Hour is a desperate cry for help, for saving the planet that has supported the human race for eons. It is scheduled to occur between 8:30pm and 9:30pm local time around the globe on 28th March 2009, exactly 10 days from today. I thought this to be a good time to give a backgrounder to my readers about it and do my bit in getting more people to “flick the switch”.
Earth Hour is a WWF initiative where individuals, businesses and governments turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change. Earth Hour is a symbolic event designed to engage people from all walks of life in the climate change discussion to send a strong message to our political leaders that we want them to take meaningful action on climate change. It began as a local event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has increased in magnitude exponentially since then. Earth Hour went global last year and this year the goal is to reach one billion people. Get one billion (which is 1/6th of the world’s population!) people to “Vote Earth” and therefore, send a very strong and urgent message to the politicians of the world that strong action needs to be taken to control the human-perpetrated contamination of the planet. 1,672 cities, towns and municipalities in 80 countries have already committed to Earth Hour 2009. The major push is for an effective international agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009. More information is available in the FAQ section of the website.
This year WWF has worked really hard to get those 1 billion votes and made use of the power of Internet to reach individuals around the world. It is present on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace etc. WWF has a channel on YouTube and videos made especially to promote the Earth Hour are being broadcast there. One ingenious video features Darth Fladder who beckons you to the “dark side”! Also, various widgets and badges are available for download on the website. Bloggers and individuals with websites can use these to show off their participation and to spread the word. Also available are information packages for individuals and corporate businesses on how they can have their own Earth Hour, ideas on what events can be organized to facilitate ‘flicking the switch’, what regular practices beyond this one hour can help our planet and reduce your carbon footprint etc.
Various events have been and are being organized by individuals and organizations around the world to make this hour a success. One of the events organised by the Sydney Observatory takes advantage of reduced light pollution during the Earth Hour to do some stargazing. It combines Earth Hour with International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009). I will write more about IYA 2009 in a separate blog but I thought this event was worth mentioning here. The observatory is located in the middle of the city, near the monumental Harbour Bridge. When the otherwise-alight bridge switches off its lights for the Earth Hour, sky observers will be able to feast their eyes on a much darker night sky and clearer astronomical objects.
So I’m going to dedicate this hour to the planet I’m privileged to live on and to the beautiful dome of southern sky above. What are you going to do for the Earth hour?