Earth Hour 2013 raises climate change awareness

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Photo Credit: Ploy Buraparate | Daily Texan Staff

For the global event Earth Hour 2013, businesses and households all over the world will turn off their lights for one hour to aid in the fight against climate change. 

According to earthhour.org, this is an event that has been “in the making” for nine years, reaching 7,001 cities across 152 countries around the globe. 

Dawn Davies is the outreach chair for the Austin Astronomical Society and organizer of Austin’s Earth Hour 2013, happening Saturday, March 23. Davies said Earth Hour allows people to think more about the ways in which our planet is suffering. 

“Earth Hour is more than just switching lights off,” Davies said. “It has become a catalyst for change, as it is evident in the increase in the number of countries participating from year to year.  Earth Hour exists to bring awareness to climate change, but now it also shines a spotlight on deforestation, dependence on coal, over-fishing, and in the case of the Austin Astronomical Society, light pollution.”

In light of these destructive events, Davies said that many people are not aware of the positive effects Earth Hour has on the environment.  

“Earth Hour epitomizes the concept of small acts with big results,” Davies said. “On a personal level, just the act of turning off and unplugging all non-essential appliances and lights brings attention to our excessive dependency on electrical energy.”

In addition to the global event, the Austin Astronomical Society, along with the Astronomy Students Association at UT and the Austin Planetarium, will host a stargazing party and informational event the day of Earth Hour 2013.

Katrina Conrad, public relations junior, said climate change is important because it is so hard to ignore. Conrad hopes that Earth Hour 2013 will help raise awareness. 

In addition to those who actively care about the effects of climate change, Davies said Earth Hour can shed light to those who don’t believe humans induce climate change. 

“Even if you don’t believe in the existence of climate change, the acts from the past five years of Earth Hours have produced results,” Davies said. “While there is no official total of how much energy has been saved worldwide during an Earth Hour event, there are some amazing figures from many participating cities and countries.”

To attest to this fact, Davies said that in 2011, the electricity saved in Chicago and Northern Illinois was equal to removing 124,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

James Diekmann, the former public outreach coordinator of the Astronomy Students Association, said Earth Hour and the interest in astronomy has brought people together to care about the planet. 

“Astronomy is one of those unique fields where potentially every person in the world has an intrinsic curiosity about it,” Diekmann said. “Just the simple nature of looking up and pondering about the night sky, admiring its beauty, or telling stories from the pictures placed in the heavens from our ancient ancestors connects each and every one of us.”

This universal connection each person shares in the world can be seen in the effects of Earth Hour and its attempts to move society in an environmentally friendly direction. 

“By participating in Earth Hour, you are becoming part of the big picture, but more importantly a part of the solution,” Davies said. “Small acts can lead to big change. We all live on this planet, and we are a planet living beyond our means in almost every way. For one hour each year we take this small step towards making a difference in the hope that there are many more steps to follow.”