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Correspondence: Time to turn off the lights for Earth Hour 2011
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Correspondence: Time to turn off the lights for Earth Hour 2011

On 26 March people all around the world will be turning off their lights as part of an international campaign to raise awareness about the environment. Eighteen-year-old student Amanda McClintock from Queensland, Australia, reports.

On Saturday 26 March, the world will once again – for the fifth year running – take a stand for our environment by turning off lights for one hour in an effort to conserve energy and raise awareness of the problems facing our planet.

Earth Hour was started in Australia in 2007 and has since been take up by WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature. In 2007, 2.2 million people turned off their lights as well as 2000 businesses. By 2008, more than 50 million people across 35 countries were taking part.

This has continued to grown to an incredible 128 countries and territories with hundreds of millions of people participating. In many countries, major landmarks – such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Golden Gate Bridge, the Colosseum in Rome and the Eiffel Tower in Paris – have taken the lead by turning off their lights.

As well as turning off lights, Earth Hour uses famous ambassadors to draw more attention to the issue – people like Australian Supermodel Miranda Kerr and other celebrities, actors and musicians.

It is all very well to make an effort to save our environment, but why in this way? Why should turn off our lights for only one hour?

I suppose the answer can be found when we see the effect that it has on our society.

Earth Hour is a special event that people across the world want to be a part of. It is an event that draws people together and ensures people – of every race, religion and walk of life – have something in common. It brings us all together.

People tend to be drawn to a special event with a lot of hype around it. As a result, Earth Hour has the potential to have a much greater impact on a wider audience.

While many people doubt the impact Earth Hour has on the environment, I believe that it is designed not to save the Earth but to raise awareness first, and change the world second.

By introducing the concept of saving energy through an event like Earth Hour, we are able to make the first steps towards changing our world by instilling thoughts of conservation into people’s minds and attitudes.

As a result of the often short-lived effects of an event such as Earth Hour, there is a push to go beyond the hour this year. Why? To make the effects of Earth Hour live on and continue for longer than just one hour.

This is just another example of how Earth Hour is making the effort to go above and beyond to raise awareness for climate change while having long-term effects.

It is a way to make all people feel included in an effort to make a difference. No matter how big, small or important we are we can all make a difference.

As Andy Ridley, co-founder and executive director of  Earth Hour, says: “Every individual has the power to achieve change in their daily lives.”

So this 26 March, at 8.30pm, turn off the lights, light a candle and enjoy time with the people you love. Make an event out of it. It is such a small thing that we can do help our environment.

Take a stand and participate in Earth Hour for 2011. Come on, a little effort can make a big change.

If you would like more information and to sign up, please visit www.earthhour.org

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Note: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. All articles are published in a spirit of improving dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

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