Thursday, March 24, 2011

Let’s go “beyond” Earth Hour

On Saturday 26 March, at 8.30 p.m., Earth Hour 2011 will celebrate a worldwide commitment to ongoing change to save our planet and our future. It will provide each and every one of us with an opportunity to make a difference and add to the collective actions of billions of people who commit to saving the planet every day.

This year, I applaud Earth Hour for going “Beyond the Hour.” This is something that has to be taught starting at a very young age -- in the home and school.

While growing up, before we even knew about global warming, recycling and all the new eco-fads, “earth hour” was practiced at home. It was maybe a generation thing. Our elders, my parents included, believed in the motto “waste not, want not;” and it was a financial issue: waste costs money, of which we had little.

EWS-WWF commitment boards

And so, a room was never left lit if no one was in it; everything was used and reused ad infinitum; food wasn’t wasted; water was used intelligently…

Life during the 1975-1991 Lebanon civil war helped too as there was no water or electricity and most commodities and foodstuffs were rare. You get used to making do with little, like having a shower with a bottle of water, recycling whatever water there was available. Saving electricity wasn’t a problem as there was none!

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned off their lights for one hour to take a stand against climate change. A year later, Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating. Global landmarks, such as Sydney Harbor Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Coliseum and Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and Burj al-Arab all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Last year, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action.

According to Gulf News (March 18), the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) has announced lights at Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, the Address Hotels and Dubai Festival City “will be switched off as part of the city's participation in the international occasion.” And “a symbolic event will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, in Burj Plaza towards Burj Park and at the Burj Khalifa.”

Create a lantern at
Earth Hour has done a lot to raise awareness of sustainability issues. 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.

In the Emirates, the campaign is being led by EWS-WWF, the Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). EWS was founded in 2001 in association with the WWF to work with people and institutions within the UAE and the region to conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable living through education and conservation initiatives. EWS is a non-governmental organization. Its mandate covers species, habitats, climate change, ecological footprint and natural resources.

Unfortunately, each year Earth Hour takes place on the same night as the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race in the world, held at the Meydan Grandstand and Racecourse. And although non-essential lights are switched off between 8.30-9.30 p.m., the show goes on.

The brainchild of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai World Cup was inaugurated in 1996 as a tribute to his love of horses and of horseracing. The total value of the prize money stands at over $35 million today, with the annual invitation-only Dubai World Cup, worth $10 million.

With Earth Hour 2011 going “Beyond the Hour,” here are a few ways you can participate: 
  1. Sign up and take part:
  2. Show your commitment on your blog or website by adding this logo:
  3. Add a Twibbon to your profile picture on Twitter and Facebook:
  4. Help spread the word through social media and follow EWS-WWF updates on Facebook ( and Twitter (; hashtag #EarthHourUAE).
  5. Upload a picture of you with one of the attached commitment boards to the Emirates Wildlife Society and World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF) Facebook page ( – check the page for examples!
  6. Add the Official Earth Hour 2011 video to your blog or website by using the embed code:
  7. Add any of these banners (, tiles ( or widget ( to your blog or website.
  8. Attend Earth Hour events organized by EWS-WWF and others in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (they will be posting the event details on Facebook at
You can also visit for more information on how to take action, things to do during Earth Hour, downloads and more.