Every year since 2007, on the last Saturday of March, citizens of planet Earth are asked to turn off all their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30pm until 9:30pm. This worldwide event has come to be known as Earth Hour, with major cities in many countries participating.
The event was conceived by the World Wide Fund for Nature in an effort to bring attention to climate change and how it will adversely affect the planet and its inhabitants. The target of this campaign, obviously, is the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity. And the goal is to get people and governments to shift from greenhouse gas-producing fuels to more sustainable and renewable energy sources.
While this is a great effort, two environmentalists associated with the World Bank have published a report indicating that more than half of the human-induced greenhouse gas emissions (PDF) are the direct and indirect result of raising animals for food. While the symbolic gesture of turning off lights for one hour every year is a great way to bring attention to an important issue, it would be better to inform the hundreds of thousands of people who participate in this event, and others like it, that by eliminating or greatly reducing their consumption of animal products, they can make a significant impact in reducing climate change 365 days a year.
Nowhere on their American website does the World Wide Fund for Nature suggest the elimination of animal foods as the means to reversing some of our worst environmental problems.
The Center for Biological Diversity recently stated that “Meat production is one of the main drivers of environmental degradation globally, and the crisis is rapidly growing worse.” They have asked their members to pledge to reduce their meat consumption in an effort to “take extinction off our plates and improve our own health along with the health of the planet.”
To make this solution known to the hundreds of thousands who participate in Earth Hour every year, we are suggesting that people who are already aware of this solution gather in local areas where Earth Hour is being observed with flashlights, candles, lanterns, etc. and arrange them to spell out “51,” the percentage of greenhouse gas emissions attributed to animal agriculture. Time and resources permitting, plant-based food picnics, food tasting and other festive activities may also be planned to coincide with this event.
This article is a call to action to start organizing now to make “51@EarthHour” take place in as many locales as possible. As time goes on, we will be updating information to highlight places that have pledged to participate in this event and let you know how you might be able to help make it successful. If you belong to a group that would like to organize this in your area, please contact us.
As the organization for this event moves forward and more people become aware of and decide to participate, they will also become aware of the solution we are proposing and know that they don’t have to wait another year to start making an impact.
Together, we can promote truly meaningful and effective solutions in which everyone can participate to create a healthy and sustainable planet for current and future generations.
If you are part of an environmental or animal rights organization that would like to be listed as a sponsor and help us promote this event, please contact us.