1. Humble Beginnings
Initially, Earth Hour was an ambitious publicity stunt to engage Australians on the issue of climate change. The first Earth Hour was held on 31 March 2007 in Sydney at 7:30pm local time.
2. Sparking a Global Movement
A few months later, the people of San Francisco were inspired to do the same and carried out their own Earth Hour in October 2007. Since then, the participation had sky-rocketed!
Earth Hour 2008 saw 35 countries across all seven continents participate. And the trend of increased participation had maintained throughout the seven-year history of this global movement.
- Earth Hour 2008: 371 Cities in 35 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2009: 4,000 Cities in 88 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2010: 4,616 Cities in 128 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2011: 5,251 Cities in 135 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2012: 6,950 Cities in 152 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2013: 7,000 cities in 154 Countries.
- Earth Hour 2014: 7,000 Cities in 162 Countries.
With more than 82% of the world's countries already participating in Earth Hour, we can expect 2015 to inch closer to a complete global participation.
3. Headquartered in Singapore
From a publicity stunt to an international ritual, the global headquarters behind the Earth Hour movement relocated from Sydney to Singapore in May 2012.
This necessary move allowed Earth Hour Global to cope with the increased level of coordination of the global campaign and also serves as a stable proven environment for Earth Hour Global and World Wide Fund for Nature to move forward from "inspiration" to "taking action" by taking on various spin-off campaigns.
Earth Hour 2011 saw the first call-for-action for supporters to go beyond the hour and make a tangible difference. This defined Earth Hour as its future iterations will go on to make some notable marks in society.
4. "I Will If You Will" is an extension of Earth Hour
The most prominent spin-off of the Earth Hour movement is the "I Will If You Will" Challenge. Serving as an open platform for everyone to challenge each other to take a positive action for the environment.
During its inception in 2012, more than 4.6 million people interacted with the challenges on the platform. From simple lifestyle changes to something that leads to political and geological changes, the IWIYW Challenge is a solid response to critics of the Earth Hour movement that believe the movement does little to solve the real problems.
Here are some of the most notable outcomes of the IWIYW challenge:
- In 2012, Russia passed a law to better protect the country's seas from oil pollution after a digital petition of 122,000 people was successfully presented.
- In 2013, Argentina passed a Senate Bill to create a 3.4 million hectare marine protected area in the country.
- In 2013, A reforestation initiative called Earth Hour Forest by Uganda was created to fight against 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month by replanting 500,000 indigenous trees in 2,700 hectares of degraded land.
5. Earth Hour Blue: From Inspiration to Action
As described by the official Earth Hour website,
Earth Hour Blue was launched during Earth Hour 2014, a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing platform that will mobilise an interconnected global community to take positive actions for the planet.
18 crowdfunding projects were launched on the platform between February and June 2014. The donation of 18 fiberglass boats to help Typhoon-affected communities in the Philippines.
How you can contribute
Earth Hour Blue is a great platform for you to contribute. Just visit https://earthhourblue.crowdonomic.com/ to donate to one of the various projects that are currently "live".
While the creation of new projects are only available for WWF organisations, I am sure that we will soon see greater accessibility for everyday people to take on environmental projects through the platform.
How can I take action
For those who are already itching do some hands-on contributions, here are some other avenues to look into.
- Singapore Environment Council: Aims to positively influence thinking on sustainability issues and coordinate environmental efforts in Singapore.
- Animal Concerns Research & Education Society (ACRES): Contribute to Singapore's wildlife scene.
- Nature Society (Singapore): Much like ACRES, you can contribute to Singapore's wildlife scene by volunteering for the various projects.
- Blue Water Volunteers: Marine conservation through research activities and awareness initiatives.
- TeamSeagrass: A simple but crucial contribution to monitor Seagrasses in Singapore as they are a critical marine ecosystem that allow a wide variety of marine life to flourish.
- International Coastal Cleanup, Singapore: An annual event to remove and collect data on the debris of shorelines, waterways and beaches of Singapore. Part of the Internal Coastal Cleanup that involves 70-100 countries.
- Waterways Watch Society: Help maintain the clean green image of Singapore by contribution to the maintenance of Singapore's rivers and canals.
- WWF-Singapore: Last but not least, the organisation that is part of the Earth Hour movement and many other projects.
Do note that these are all Singapore-based communities, though I strongly encourage everyone to search their local communities for such opportunities or even create your own!