Observance of Earth Hour Supports Climate Studies and Sense of Place

Observance of Earth Hour Supports Climate Studies and Sense of Place

Since 2007, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have participated annually in a powerful and symbolic act of earth-centric solidarity. Earth Hour brings together citizens of all ages from around the world to shine a light on climate change and climate action – by turning off the lights!

Held annually in late March (so as to allow the sunset times in both of the earth’s hemispheres to overlap), Earth Hour asks participants to show their commitment to preserving the earth by switching off non-essential lighting for a full 60 minutes. While a single home with its lights switched off may not seem like much of a statement (in fact, it might just seem like nobody is home!), a neighborhood, town, or city filled with homes darkened for Earth Hour makes quite a statement and shows a collective desire for respectful, responsible, and sustainable use of the earth and its resources. 

Though the event comes with a conservation-centric mission, Earth Hour is not intended to make a significant dent in our consumption of the earth’s resources or to truly reduce energy use. While consciously keeping electric lights turned off will accomplish both of these things in a small way, the purpose of the event is to make a statement – one that is easily visible and easy to participate in.

This year’s Earth Hour event will take place on Saturday, March 19th, 2016 from 8:30-9:30pm. Families can participate at home, or can use the event as an opportunity to organize a neighborhood or community observation of Earth Hour. By spreading the word about the event to neighbors, families can help to enhance the statement made by their own sparsely lit homes. Additionally, families can share their commitment to changing climate change by sharing their intention to participate in Earth Hour.

So what should families do with the lights out for an hour? Illuminating your home with candles is just a start – but a darkened home can easily lend itself to a host of learning opportunities to bolster the learning associated with exploring the importance of combating climate change. Families can look to posts on astronomy resources and using constellations to deepen sense of place for ideas on filling a darkened evening hour. Families can also take advantage of the darkened, quieted expanse of time that Earth Hour offers by exploring mindfulness together. By pairing activism and climate science with citizen science and/or self-care activities, families can create a productive and meaningful family Earth Hour that allows children of any age to easily engage with the event’s mission and purpose.

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