By PMA RASHEED
9 March 2011, The Gulf Today
At 8.30pm on 26 March, lights will be switched off around the globe for the 2011 edition of Earth Hour, the world's largest environmental call for action on climate change.
A number of iconic landmarks in the UAE will also keep dimmed their lights between 8.30pm to 9.30pm on the Saturday to observe the annual lights out event, in solidarity with activities across the globe on a mission to raise awareness on keeping the earth sustainable.
But there's more to it than switching off lights for one hour once a year. It's all about giving people a voice and working together to create a better future, say environmental activists in the UAE.
Being an opportunity to make a difference for saving the earth every day, the hour unites hundreds of millions of people worldwide with a commitment to ongoing change for the betterment of the planet.
The Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS), in tandem with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), will run a campaign to showcase a long-term commitment to evolve beyond switching off the lights for an hour.
This year, the activities will witness a growing global community committed to taking environmental actions on an elevated level with people being asked to commit to an action, big or small, that they will sustain the future of the planet.
The WWF has launched a "Beyond the Hour" programme, urging residents of the seven emirates to express their commitment to Earth Hour by demonstrating action for the environment and sharing messages with the rest of the community.
"People are encouraged to upload photographs of sustainable lifestyle themes at www.ewswwf.ae/earthhour in solidarity with the celebration," indicated a WWF spokesperson, "The UAE's "Green Sheikh" Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi and other prominent personalities have already uploaded pictures on the web portal. Hosts of photographs from people committing to environmental change can be viewed at the site."
Ida Tillisch, acting director general of EWS-WWF, said, that the "Going beyond the hour" programme calls for daily actions that incorporate environmentally sustainable practices into one's lifestyle, and into the corporate sector.
"More governmental policies should be developed for the conservation of environment and regulations for effective energy saving in the country. Together we can achieve the meaningful emission reduction necessary to fight climate change," Tillisch opined.
"The EWS-WWF programme will give lessons to individuals on going beyond the hour with simple daily actions such as setting air-conditioners to 24 instead of 22 degrees, washing cars with a bucket instead of using a hose, and switching lights to high efficiency bulbs," she added.
"Meanwhile, commercial establishments and organisations are advised to empower an environmental team and all employees to translate the earth hour message into on-going initiatives that reduce water and electricity consumption at work," elaborated Tillisch.
"With a simple flick of the switch and click of the mouse, individuals and organisations will be sending a signal that they want solutions to the climate crisis and they will be taking action. The climate change is the most urgent and pressing issue facing the entire world and we need to unite everyone around meaningful action to tackle it," she noted.
"Collective action of individuals and organisations can truly make a difference in converting the planet a sustainable place for the generations ahead," remarked Andy Ridley, co-founder and executive director of Earth Hour.
"Everyone has the power to make change. A CEO can change an organisation, a 7-year-old can change a classroom, and a president can change a country. This initiative is just the beginning," she noted.
The Earth Hour was launched in Sydney, Australia in 2007, as two million people in one city switched off their lights and by 2010, over 128 countries participated, making it the largest voluntary action ever witnessed.
Earth Hour Daily Environmental Tips
1- I keep my Air Conditioning set at 24 degrees and turn it off when I leave the house. It’s Cool!
2- I open my windows during the cool weather. Ahh Fresh Air! But, remember to close them when you leave the house in case a sandstorm appears.
3- I open the blinds and curtains to use natural light and turn off electric lights. It’s a bright idea, don’t you think?
4- I replaced all my light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs, I use ¼ the energy and save on my energy bill, more money for new shoes
5- I unplug all appliances when not in use; did you know appliances suck a lot of energy, even when not in use?
6- I turn on the water heater 30 minutes before I take my shower; there is no need to heat water 24/7.
7- When I leave my apartment I switch off the lights, TV and air-conditioning.
8- I hang my clothes to dry. Why use a dryer when you have the sun?
9- I fill the cup not the kettle when boiling water.
10- I put my computer to sleep when I go for meetings or lunch.
11- I only wash when I have a full load.
12- I leave my car at home and jump on the metro.
13- I bought a really cool solar powered mobile phone charger.
14- I eat less meat to reduce my ecological footprint.
15- I eat left-overs and try never to waste my food!
16- We installed motion sensing lights in our office.
17- I refill my water bottle instead of taking another plastic bottle that I know won’t be recycled.
18- I’m turning off my lights for Earth Hour and anytime I do not need them.
19- I use candle light at dinner and turn off the lights.
20- Bye Bye hose! I wash my car with a bucket. Did you know desalinated water is extremely energy intensive?
21- My colleagues probably think I’m a geek, but I always ask that the last person to leave turns off all lights in the office.
22- My garden is watered at night, during the day most of it evaporates anyway.
23- I buy energy efficient appliances for my house.
24- My social gatherings are arranged outside when the weather is nice. My guests love picnics on the beach or in the park.
25- I unplug the computer when it is fully charged, it saves energy and it is good for the computer too.
26- I re-use stuff.
27- I cook with lids on the pans; it uses less energy and still tastes yummy.
28- My wardrobe is filled with sustainable fashion.
29- I use a broom when cleaning my driveway and patio instead of a hose. Its good exercise and wastes less.