In what is perhaps the biggest annual global campaign to fight climate change, Earth Hour will once again switch off the lights for an hour this week.

Marking its 11th edition, Earth Hour will take place on March 25 at 8:30 p.m. local time. What happens on and around this event, and how may one participate?

Why Earth Hour?

This campaign, happening simultaneously in different parts of the world, was started by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in 2007 in Sydney. It urges people across the globe to switch off their lights for an hour between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. once a year.

The aim is not just to conserve electricity, but to demonstrate a commitment to fight climate change and unite humans worldwide in the collective battle.

“By going dark, local government, cities, companies, landmarks, and individuals send the message that we will remain steadfast as we deliver on the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement,” noted WWF.

The landmark climate deal seeks to significantly cut down greenhouse gases and hold the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This year, prominent landmarks of the world have signed up. They include the Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, and Big Ben in United Kingdom, as well as the Edinburgh Castle, the Acropolis, and other UNESCO World Heritage sites.

How To Take Part

Anyone can participate by simply turning off all lights and electronic appliances during Earth Hour.

One may take it a step ahead and donate five Facebook posts from March 22 to 25 to help Earth Hour and the organization shed light on much needed climate action.

WWF is also inviting artists to broadcast live sets to fans around the world during the event. Through Facebook Live or a live social channel, they can amplify the message and use the Hashtag #EarthHourLive.

Challenge And Criticism

Some experts, however, believe that even email and social network campaigns used for promoting Earth Hour are inevitably contributing to climate change.

“Electricity consumption related to the growth of digital technologies is exploding," warns Alain Anglade of the French Environment and Energy Management Agency in a 2016 report, which cautioned that using computers, routers, and other electronic devices – to promote the campaign – could be adding to the world’s carbon footprint.

Sending an SMS text message, for instance, weighs in at approximately 0.014 grams of CO2, piling up over time with sheer use and the growing amount of users worldwide.

Earth Hour also mourns the same reliance on gadgets and digital technologies particularly via non-renewable energy sources. The group recommends a shift toward 100 percent renewable, as well as implementing energy efficiency at home to reduce not just power bills but also overall environmental waste.

It also suggests unplugging electronic devices when not in use, as well as turning off the switch. It also favors energy-saving light bulbs such as LED or compact fluorescent bulbs.

This year’s Earth Hour takes place amid the grim official confirmation of 2016 being the hottest year on record, and climate change trends continuing this year after such record heat.

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