A worldwide event that millions of people, over 5,200 cities and 135 countries participate in every year is coming to Rider University — sponsored by the Eco-Representatives and the Office of Sustainability.
“Uniting People to Protect the Planet,” is the new slogan for the 2012 Earth Hour, which is a worldwide awareness event that sends a powerful message for action on climate change. For one hour, and one hour only, people are asked to turn off their lights and all other electronics. This event demonstrates that extraordinary things can be accomplished when people come together for a common cause: to protect and sustain our planet for future generations.
In 2007, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) established Earth Hour in Australia. This event was the first created in support of action against climate change across the world. Children, businesses, politicians and CEOs came together to show they had the power to make a change. During this event, 2.2 million people and over 2,000 businesses took on this simple task of turning their lights off for one hour.
Earth Hour has quickly grown since 2007, and each year numbers of participating individuals soar to make a stand against climate change to protect our planet. Since 2008, the event went from 35 countries and almost 400 cities and towns being a part in the event, to 135 countries and millions of people turning their lights off in 2011. More than 1,700 landmark lights were turned off during Earth Hour 2011. The Olympic Stadium in Beijing, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, all of the Las Vegas Strip, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben in London, the Colosseum in Rome and the Empire State Building in New York City, were some of the major landmarks that participated in this event.
Global warming, a great threat that faces our planet today, is a naturally occurring event where radiation from the sun heats the Earth. Short wavelengths come through our atmosphere by the sun and are absorbed by the Earth. The Earth then emits longer wavelengths back into the atmosphere. Gases in the atmosphere don’t absorb short wavelengths, but the longer wavelengths. These gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxide, re-emit these waves back towards the Earth again causing this greenhouse effect, warming our planet.
Yes, this is a naturally occurring process, but we do add to the problem. With society’s use of non-renewable resources, burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, we add to the gases being put into the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide. Driving long distances, the products you purchase, using electricity and the amount of trash you throw away are all factors contributing to your carbon footprint, which is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activity.
Earth Hour allows you to become more sustainable and do something positive for our environment. Turning off your lights for that one hour symbolizes your commitment to make a change beyond the hour.
This year, the Eco-Reps are hosting events on both the Lawrenceville and WCC campuses. In Lawrenceville, students can participate on the residence hall quad (rain location: Cavalla room) and at WCC, on the Great Plains (rain location: Seabrook Lounge). Both events will be held on Saturday, March 31, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Students should turn off their lights and electronics and join in the fun. We can fight for a more sustainable, safer and cleaner planet.
For more information about Earth Hour, go to www.earthhour.org.