MANILA, Philippines – Earth Hour is set for 8:30 today, Saturday, March 31 — whether you’re in the world or in space.
On earth, 147 countries are expected to participate in the 60-minute switch-off, Earth Hour co-founder and executive director Andy Ridley said in an interview with Rappler.
More than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries and territories participated in the movement in 2011, reaching 1.8 billion people across the globe, added Ridley.
And for the first time, the International Space Station has signed up for the cause, organizers declared.
Stationed approximately 400 kilometers above earth, astronaut André Kuipers will capture the impact of the biggest environmental action in human history.
The Philippines will not mind being outshone by the rest of the world.
It’s on its 4th bid to becoming an official Earth Hour “Hero Country,” a title it has earned for the past 3 years for topping the global event’s town and city participation levels.
Lights went out in a record-breaking 1,661 cities and municipalities in the Philippines the previous year.
This year, Earth Hour Philippines will launch the lights out not only in the country’s capital, but also in Cebu and Davao to boost its bid. Here is the schedule of the 3 main switch-off hubs across the country which will kick off their respective programs with colorful parades:
1. Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City (6:30 pm)
2. Plaza Independencia in Cebu City (5:30 pm)
3. SM in Davao City (6:30 pm)
No less than the co-founder and executive director of Earth Hour will observe how the country takes the lead in the global environmental action.
“We heard extraordinary stories about how it goes off in the Philippines and I thought to come and see it. It’s nice to be out of Sydney and see how a different country does it,” Ridley told Rappler.
Launched in Australia in 2007 by the international conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Earth Hour has been held annually across the globe on the last Saturday of March as a symbolic action to raise awareness about the threat of climate change.
The global threat
Ridley is steering Earth Hour 2012, using social media in connecting people across the globe to combat the threat of global warming.
When Earth Hour was launched in 2007 as a single-city event, even his own government was cynical about the action, let alone its scientific basis.
“We had a climate-skeptic government then. They kept telling us that citizens don’t care about climate change. We didn’t believe that,” Ridley said, recalling the obstacles that the campaign had to overcome when it kicked off.
In the same year, a United Nations climate change body released a report highlighting the threat of rising temperatures, saying that the climate crisis is human-made and that urgent solutions are needed. To summarize the well-established scientific findings about climate change:
1. the concentration of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on earth
2. the concentration has been rising steadily, and mean global temperatures along with it, since the time of the Industrial Revolution
3. the most abundant greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, is the product of burning fossil fuels
Beyond the hour
“This year through digital media, we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much-needed action for the environment,” Ridley said.
“We are beginning to explore the possibility that we can have a global voice where the issue is felt strongly enough by the people,” he added.
But Ridley would also like to usher the campaign beyond the hour.
“We can go beyond voice to action, and we can go beyond action to change,” Ridley said, emphasizing that Earth Hour is owned by its participants, from a kid in a classroom to a political leader fighting for a clean energy future.
The 60-minute event gathers individuals, businesses and governments across the globe, encouraging them to be responsible for their ecological footprint and to provide solutions to pressing environmental issues.
What can be done?
Rappler will facilitate online conversations about how you can meaningfully observe Earth Hour 2012 and beyond. Here are 3 ways by which you can participate:
1. Submit a 15-second video clip explaining how you can help save and protect the environment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries will be put together as a montage.
2. Join the Twitter discussion that will be held on March 31, from 4:30-8:30 pm using the hashtag #BeyondEarthHour. The discussion will end with a call-out to switch off lights.
3. Let’s continue the conversation beyond the hour. Link up with Move.PH, Rappler’s citizen journalism arm. Share stories that inspire action and sustainable solutions. – Rappler.com
(WATCH #BeyondEarthHour: Maria Ressa, Rappler CEO and executive editor, talks to Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley.)