Earth Hour has a point

This past Saturday, the world participated in the fourth annual Earth Hour.

Last year, Earth Hour became the world’s largest climate change initiative when over 4,000 cities in 88 countries joined in and turned off their lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.

This year, 126 countries participated and 13,870 icons and landmarks worldwide turned out their lights.

That’s 38 more countries this year than last and 125 more countries than four years ago – pretty impressive progress. While the popularity of Earth Hour has been growing rapidly, there are still nay-sayers who criticize the one hour a year that has taken on international significance.

Even though the environmental benefit of turning off lights for a short period of time may seem small, symbolically it is worth recognizing.

Landmarks around the world stand in darkness and people of every walk of life embrace the importance of our planet. At the very least, those who participate are able to understand society’s reliance on electricity.

It becomes apparent to anyone who took the opportunity to sit in the dark for an hour that going without lights, even for a short period of time, is certainly not conducive to our daily rituals.

Considering Earth Hour began with a mere 2.2 million people in Australia in 2007, it is hard to argue that it offers no positive benefits.

While no official numbers have been released yet, the World Wildlife Fund expected that close to one billion people would participate in the 2010 event.

While Earth Hour may not be the knight in shining armour that saves planet Earth, it does suggest hope by demonstrating the potential for unity. 126 countries around the world participating in the same event for the same cause is a significant event in itself.