On March 27 at 8:30 p.m., people worldwide will take a stand against global warming. Earth Hour is the largest environmental movement in recent history. It is a global agreement to make one a small action: turn off all non-essential lights (some people even turn off all non-essential electricity) for one hour, once a year, to fight global warming.

It all started in Sydney, Australia in 2007. The World Wildlife Fund pledged to take a stand in the battle against global warming. The results were tremendous. In their first year, 2.2 million people in Sydney turned off their lights. It only took one year for this event to go global. In 2008, fifty million people in 400 cities across the globe switched off their lights for this event, making it the biggest symbol of environmental change. Last year, one billion people, about one-seventh of the world’s population, turned off their lights to support the action against climate change.

However, Earth Hour is more than turning off the lights. It gives people a chance to stand up against climate change and send a strong message to world leaders. It may be surprising to some, but political leaders have not negotiated a settlement on climate change. At this point, 115 countries and 33 million people are participating in Earth Hour, but at the time of this story, Canada has only 51, 908 pledges. That’s not even 3% of the first Earth Hour’s participants.

Many people wonder how turning off the lights can help the planet. Sure, it is not going to save the world, but it is a step. If one billion people turn off their lights, it shows the leaders of democracy what the people want. In Canada, lighting uses 5 to 15 percent of the energy in our homes (35 percent in commercial buildings), and “by eliminating inefficient lighting, consumers and businesses could save millions of dollars while drastically reducing green house gas emissions,” reads the World Wildlife Fund’s website.

This year, both Brantford and Laurier Brantford will participate. On March 27 at 8 p.m., the event commences in Harmony Square, free of charge, including bussing to Harmony Square. There will be a concert and the lights will be turned off at 8:30. You can also purchase Earth Hour T-shirts (about $12-15) as well as other merchandise. If you can’t attend, just turn off the lights, light some candles (or turn on flashlights) and play some games with friends and family. It’s sure to be a good night, and you’re saving the planet one step at a time. As the World Wildlife Fund says, “it’s not what country you’re from, it’s what planet you’re from.” Turn ‘em off!

Don’t forget to pledge your participation so the WWF can present these numbers to politicians. You can do so at www.earthhourcanada.org. Also, check them out on youtube.com or find out more at www.earthhour.org.

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