Earth Hour: Climate change

Tonight, Sat 26th March, is Earth Hour. Are you joining in? Earth Hour started in Sydney in 2007 when 2.2 million people turned their lights off to make a stand against climate change. Last year was the biggest Earth Hour ever with 128 countries taking part. Organised by WWF, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and China have already turned off on mass to recognise Earth Hour, and I plan to do the same at 8:30 this evening.

I have to say, I’m pretty good at turning lights off. In fact it really annoys me when I see lights on unnecessarily, once you start to give it more thought it just becomes habit to switch them off. Obviously turning off lights for just an hour isn’t going to make a huge amount of difference to climate change, but the publicity around the event aims to make people continue to think about the issue after the hour is up. Climate change remains an issue for debate. World temperatures reached a global high in 1998, but fluctuated in the following years, leading some people to believe that climate change ‘stopped’ in 1998. In early 2011 the World Meteorological Organisation announced that 2010 was the joint hottest year on record along with 1998 and 2005.

There is no doubt that the temperature of the Earth has been steadily rising for decades, but I do understand where the sceptics out there are coming from. Some scientists and members of the public alike, argue that ‘climate change’ is a natural change in the Earth’s life cycle, having been through a number of dramatic climatic changes over the last 4 billion years. This may be the case, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that human activity is now intervening. Atmospheric chemist, Paul Crutzen, coined the term ‘anthropocene’ in 2000 to explain the affect that human activity is having on the world. He stated that we are entering a new geological era (the anthropocene era) due to the affect of human activity. If humans destroy the Earth by using up fossil fuels and causing global warming, they are destroying themselves as a species, the Earth, however, will live on as it has done in previous millennia. Of course, some say that the Earth does a good enough job causing disasters itself, just witness the terrible earthquake in Japan.

I often think, hey, it will be ok, the human species will adapt. Advances in technology and science will allow us all to live a carbon neutral life. Or will they? I don’t know. What I do believe, is that humans don’t have the right to mess with nature and our current way of life has become unsustainable.

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