WWF-Canada Blog:

Earth Hour, the bottom line: what it means when we switch off the lights

By Carly Digweed, Communications Intern, WWF-Canada

Turning off our lights for Earth Hour is easy enough, but why should we do it this year?

More and more we are hearing from scientists that we are closer than ever to a tipping point. Climate change is no longer a theoretical threat, and we’re seeing it happen right before our eyes. Drought, wildfires, hurricanes – these events are showing us that climate change is already here, and it’s going to get much worse if we don’t act now.

Every year, millions of Canadians participate in Earth Hour but most people experience it on a personal or community level.  How can we help people understand or see that the action and commitment they see in their neighbourhoods scale up to something bigger?  How does action on the personal level translate into hope for global change?

This is exactly where WWF comes in and why Earth Hour was created in the first place. We want to be, or try to be, the conduit that translates personal actions into a message of global hope. That’s why we’re asking people to tell us what they are doing to take action and why, so we can work to amplify these stories and share them within Canada and with people in the Philippines or India and vice versa. It is hugely empowering to know that, not only are we not alone in this effort, there are literally hundreds of millions of people around the world who all want this change.

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© Jeremiah Armstrong / WWF-Canada 

This year with the Earth Hour City Challenge, there’s a spotlight on climate actions being taken at a municipal level.  Why should we focus on progress being taken at the city scale?  How can cities drive national and global solutions?

Cities are where climate change is directly felt and where action is directly taken. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit in New York, it was the city, the transit, the sewage systems, that bore the brunt of recovery.

In terms of city-driven national and global solutions, because we haven’t seen the changes we want at the federal level, it’s only feasible to carry on these great feats that are happening at a municipal level. Since most people reside in cites, there’s a large revenue base – taxes and votes – at stake for government in these areas. So when cities demand a change, it’s definitely a powerful driver. Community action is what influences federal action, which is what we need.

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© Patrick Doyle / WWF-Canada

What climate change action have we seen since Earth Hour started in Canada over 6 years ago that can be broadly attributed to public support?

Climate change is pretty unique in that it’s not a one-time thing. We can’t just rally people together for one night and come back to it next year. We need to build an understanding that climate change is something that extends far beyond election cycles. We need to engage communities for ongoing, lasting support for change. Over the 6 years that Earth Hour has been running, we can attribute a lot of conservation achievements to broad public support. For example:


We not only need cities and their citizens to take action, we need change to happen at the highest level in Canada. What message are these millions of Canadian Earth Hour supporters sending to our decision-makers?

When people lead, leaders follow. Political leaders are accountable for their constituents, so if we don’t ask, nothing will be done. These representatives are supposed to be a reflection of our priorities, and anyone who fails in that, is out. But at the same time, we expect these leaders to inform us of threats and connect us global problems. With that, we want them to treat our concerns as a priority, and they know if they succeed, they will be rewarded.


Will you be participating in Earth Hour this year? Stand up and be counted! Join team Earth Hour

  • Line

    They keep talking about Climate Change, pollution the cause of it, they say there are more storms, bad weather, etc..
    When I was a kid down East 50 or so years ago, we used to count snow not in inches but in feet, there were always bad snow storms, ice storms where we would have no power for a week, etc… then over the years it got milder, less snow. Now it is going back to a lot of snow, storms. I think it is just the way Mother Nature does it. Definitely in favor of saving energy, lights out on Earth Hour, all good stuff.

  • Line

    They keep talking about Climate Change, pollution the cause of it, they say there are more storms, bad weather, etc..
    When I was a kid down East 50 or so years ago, we used to count snow now in inches but in feet, there were always bad snow storms, ice storms where we would have no power for a week, etc… then over the years it got milder, less snow. Now it is going back to a lot of snow, storms. I think it is just the way Mother Nature does it. Definitely in favor of saving energy, lights out on Earth Hour, all good stuff.

  • Lucas Wen

    I concur with David Allan.
    Despite the fact that CO2 concentrations affects the climate system, there is no scientific evidence that suggests that natural disasters are increasing due to the rise in CO2 concentration. The media, however, tends to overexaggerate and use any piece of information to create entertainment. On the other hand, I do agree with the cause of earth hour; an attempt to save energy in the society. But the media’s misusage of science in the area of climate change has gotten way out of hand.
    I have attended many lectures in the past few years by famous climate scientists who have pointed out this issue of misinterpretation of science. Here is bascially what happened:
    Scientist: I have discovered that CO2 may be a positive contributor to radiative imbalance. Too much could possibly cause an increase in the earth’s total energy.
    scientists: Global warming amplifies the risk factors for extreme weather events, but we do not have a good understanding of weather yet due to the limited data over only 30 years of legitiment weather recordings.
    scientists: further evidence suggest that global warming has slowed from 2003 to 2007, and stopped from 2007 onward. Which means that there are many other factors in climate that we do not understand.
    Media: OH… AWKWARD… let’s slowly report less and less about the climate… (And thus is the reason why the media has been reporting less about climate after 2007)

    -AP student, child of two climate scientists

  • If only people would look at reality….nothing is static…..fluctuations will always be the order of the day,quit the FEAR BASED reaction and give yourself a shake.The weather will and has always had it’s extremes.The H.A.R.R.P.program has laden the skies with metal and chemicals to try and adjust Mother Nature.It has Not helped.check it out on utube at (chem-trails).Spend about 20 hours watching “David Icke “on u- tube..The most empowering ideas you will ever know are there for us all,Time to Grow folks,,,,,learn from a man who spent 20 plus years taking ridicule from mainstream society and media to finally emerge as the most informative source available to mankind .Good luck on your journey….

  • Stacy Moffat

    It’s inspiring to see large known groups continuously fighting and not giving up on those who ignore the environment and take it for granted. As an individual I do what I can in such a small community. In Northern Ontario where I grew up, and where I’m situated now, it’s extremely discouraging to realize that we’re so limited to what we can do to make a difference as an individual, but most importantly as a community. I say this because something as important as recycling STILL has not been implemented. I know that there have been attempts and inquiries brought fourth to attempt to bring in recycling, but it’s obviously not getting anywhere. It baffles me that something that’s a must in the cities has not been accommodated in neighbouring/small communities. I went from growing up with no sense of recycling, to going to college for 3yrs for Graphic Design in Sudbury where recycling and environment awareness was HUGE, back to a community with nothing of the sort.

    I do have to say I can relate to the discouragement, BUT, I’m proud to report that as a Designer who graduated from the Graphic Design program from Cambrian College I would like to highlight their efforts for what they’re doing for the environment, even as a “small” group. They’ve implemented a yearly tree planting event where they plant enough trees to replace the amount of paper that they would of used up in a school year to help reduce their carbon foot print. It became such a success that two other programs now pair up with the Graphic Design class to plant trees as well. Also, throughout my three years we did many projects and were always encouraged to keep sustainable design in mind while designing or creating something in order to help reduce our carbon footprint, but most importantly influencing clients and all businesses big or small, to do the same. One design at a time. Though, if that wasn’t enough, they also added to the curriculum (I believe the following year after I enrolled) a class specifically dedicated to Sustainable Design, which I highly envy my peers in having the privilege in taking. I have nothing but the greatest respect for the program coordinators and designers who have made those changes possible and encouraged me to try and make a difference in my little communities. I hope that if you do get a chance to read my little book of a post, that it gives some positive out look 🙂 Thank you

  • Mary

    Dear Greta,
    I don’t know you… yet I a sense I do. Please do not think you’re the only one out there who thinks this way. I too, try to get my family and friends (and Facebook friends) to understand that if we don’t take care of our environment, there won’t even be an Economy! I also got discouraged recently when I posted 3 urgent messages about water and not a single person reacted but when I posted a piece of chocolate cake I had received – I got a lot of “Like(s)” and reactions!
    So what are we to do? Sugar coat the reality for them? I’m still working on something because I’ve done all that I could for my direct family & friends which BTW I’m happy to report are recycling, a lot make conscious decisions about electricity and buying local. Also, we re-use a lot, share books, cook in groups regularly, donate clothes and other unused items to local charities.
    These are just some of the things I’ve been working on.
    If you’re wondering what else to do, perhaps get a petition going so the big FOOD companies such as Coca Cola (yes Coca Cola isn’t just about Coke) change the way they sell us there products by reducing packaging and using recyclable materiales. That would be a great start. I’ll work on some myself.
    Why should you bother? Because it’s the right thing to do. Because if you do good, you’ll inspire others to do good. And if you think you won’t inspire, than at least you will have given it your all for the wellbeing of future generations – And that’s no small step.
    Please, don’t lose hope; we are out there, other small voices trying to make a positive difference… I’m proof.

  • I would like to continue to have hope that changes will be made to assist us in dealing with Climate Change… To have changes put in place that slow down the damage we are doing… I have been sharing the word about Climate Change with many people over the years and unfortunately a lot of “regular” people still don’t get it… they still believe that what is happening to our climate is a natural progression of the earth and there isn’t anything we can do about … they go about their lives, having more babies, going to work, creating garbage by buying junk .. they continue to buy gas guzzling vehicles no matter the price of gas… Our so called leaders continue to deny there is a problem no matter what they may say or what regulations they put in place (regulations and laws are easy to get around if you have the know how). This I know because they still focus on the all mighty Economy and not on the Environment… I have all but given up now that my little voice can make a difference and at 51 years old and likely not to have grand kids I ask myself why I even care or bother any more…. the only thing that continues to make me angry and speak my piece once in a while, is the fact that “people” for some odd reason think they are the most important thing on this planet and pay little regard to the fact that our way of life is hurting and killing our wildlife and plant life to a point we are losing species in both….. I am not sure if I will participate this year in earth hour …. 🙁 My hat goes of to those of you who continue to fight a battle that at present I see no positive end to…