Students hope to ‘revolutionize’ Earth Hour

An Ontario college student doesn’t think that one Earth Hour is enough.

On March 29 citizens around the world turned off their lights for one hour at 8 p.m. to raise awareness about global climate change. The event, sponsored by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), has inspired many to take further action.

Fanshawe College student Brent Posthuma has started a group advocating that Ontarians observe Earth Hour once a month. He said he wants to bring more awareness to global warming and that one hour was not enough.

“Earth Hour was not sufficient,” Posthuma said on his Facebook group page. “Many people have forgotten about it, which proves that one hour a year isn’t enough. But with repetition we can make a real difference.”

Posthuma is not alone. A freshman in a Wisconsin high school, Aaron Schmidt says he learned about Earth Hour just a few days before it took place. After participating, he began researching and felt that climate change needs a higher profile.

“I decided to do this once a month because I really wanted to raise awareness about Global Warming,” Schmidt said. “We need to get people involved in helping save the Earth…I also saw that many people participated in the first one on March 29.”

Both students have seen the membership numbers rise rapidly. Posthuma’s Facebook group, Earth Hour Revolution – The First Day Of Every Month, has grown quickly to almost 27,000 members. Schmidt’s group shares the WWF event name, Earth Hour, and has almost 80,000 members. Posthuma is thrilled with the rapid growth.

“I started Earth Hour Revolution on March 30 at about three in the afternoon,” Posthuma said. “Initially I invited nine people, by the end of the first day we had 150. By the end of the week we had 12,500-plus and it has been steadily growing.”

Those who join the group will turn off their lights for one hour every month to save energy and raise awareness. Posthuma’s group will do this on the first day of every month and Schmidt’s, on the last day of each month.

The World Wildlife Foundation says many citizens have been taking action since the original Earth Hour in March. Director of the Global Threats Programme in the WWF Toronto office, Julia Langer is optimistic about the impact of the initial Earth Hour event.

“We’ve received letters and e-mails, there is activity on social networking sites, and now polling results from across the country showing that people want to do more,” Langer said.

“Canadians are telling us they are taking action both because they care deeply about the planet, and as a tangible message to governments and business to pick up the dismal pace on greenhouse gas reduction.”

Schmidt says the event itself is not the answer, and will not lower consumption rates by a lot. However, he says Earth Hour is a springboard for more action to take place around climate change.

“This will cause people to have their own Earth Hours at other times,” Schmidt said. “People might see this event and decide to buy energy efficient lights or buy thicker paned windows. That will help reduce Global Warming in the long run.”