By Burak Bir
ANKARA (AA) – The coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic may have stolen splendor and thunder from the Earth Hour event this year, but has not dampened spirits of millions of nature lovers in 180 countries, who are out to mark it on Saturday, but differently.
The event that has been engaging people and creating awareness about earth and environment over the past 12 years will be marked in 2020 with people taking part online from their homes to show support for the planet.
Started by the World-Wide Fund (WWF) -- an international non-governmental organization working in the field of wilderness preservation and the environment – as a symbolic event to keep lights off in Sydney in 2007 has turned out a major catalyst to promote environmental protection movement. It has led to legislative changes in many countries through sheer people’s power.
Every year last Saturday of March, people all over the world switch off their lights to show support to the planet.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Jasmine Ledger, Earth Hour campaign coordinator at WWF Australia, said that event was conceived to trigger conversations about what individuals can do to help address environmental challenges, at a time when there was still skepticism and denial on the issue of climate change.
"Switching off lights was chosen as it is an easy and accessible option and action that nearly everyone can do," she said.
Besides switching off, people symbolically express a commitment to the cause.
"Climate change triggers biodiversity loss, including loss of landscapes by drought, ocean warming, coral bleaching and loss of food. Likewise, biodiversity loss worsens climate change impacts," said the WWF coordinator. She said the climate change and biodiversity loss were two serious threats facing the world.
Ledger stressed that if current threats to the environment continue unabated, life would become extinct, as we all owe our necessities like air, water, and food to nature. She suggested that people should take the necessary steps to stop threats to climate and biodiversity.
But like many other events related to sports, culture, and economy, the COVID-19 has cast its spell on the Earth Hour movement as well.
- Digital live stream arranged
Realizing that most of the people across the globe are under a lockdown or in self-quarantine, the Earth Hour organizing team appealed people to mark the event in the virtual world, rather than organizing public events for the sake of health and safety.
Ledger said the volunteers and people across the world will observe the event in digital world from their homes.
"In Australia, we will be presenting a digital live stream. There will be performances from musicians, comedians, and other special guests from their homes on digital platforms. People from around the world can tune in to Earth Hour Live at 8.30 p.m Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) corresponding to 9:30 a.m GMT.
Although public events have been canceled, she said that iconic places in Australia like Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Luna Park, the Wheel of Brisbane, Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and the Bell Tower in Perth will switch off their lights.
The #EarthHourLive stream can be viewed on WWF Australia’s YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram and at earthhour.org.au/earth-hour-live, she added.
She said that staying at home amid coronavirus fear does not mean to forget the Earth Hour and duties towards the planet. “Staying connected as a community and looking for positive ways people can contribute is now more important than ever as the world is fighting with the COVID-19 crisis,'' she added.
The COVID-19 first emerged in Wuhan, China last December and has spread to at least 167 countries and territories.