Earth Hour 2020

Amid all this strife about the Covid-19 Coronavirus, it will be Earth Hour:

Saturday 28th March
8:30pm – 9:30pm

The prospect of participating in a single hour of switching everything off, amongst doing (or not doing) other things, while our world seems to have been turned upside down, seems a little… odd, to say the least. The Earth Hour website claims the initiative “has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people.” However, the impact of a reported virus outbreak appears to have had a far greater impact than the down-time due to this Earth Hour event. The same could be said of the “Extinction Rebellion” movement.

Here are some pictures and headlines to illustrate:


“Hong Kong (CNN)Factories were shuttered and streets were cleared across China’s Hubei province as authorities ordered residents to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.” – CNN
“Swans in canals, dolphins at empty cruise ports and even wild boar in cobbled streets prove how fast nature can reclaim the world…” –


“Both China and Northern Italy have recorded significant falls in nitrogen dioxide, which is related to reduced car journeys and industrial activity.” – BBC

While Coronavirus is having a positive impact on our planet, some are concerned:

“The naturalist Chris Packham welcomed a reduction in pollution through planes being grounded and there being fewer cars on the road, but said he was worried the global issue of climate change has been forgotten and momentum lost.” – BBC

Indeed, whether it be “Brexit” or “Covid-19”, all else seems to get forgotten.

The Politico website has this to say:

“Crisis moments present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but here is our best stab at a guide to the unknown ways that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.”

With all these findings it seems unlikely that any country still fail to meet their CO2 targets this year. However, my concerns are:

  1. We’re not in control of this (we didn’t actively bring it about as various climate change movements have tried to do)
  2. (Therefore) things will return to how they were

The title of that Politico page makes the bold claim “Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently.” (My emphasis) I’m not convinced this is a given certainty, but I hope it happens.

I feel like we’ve all been given this opportunity to change how things are, how we are, how we live; nature has handed this to us on a plate. Yes, there are people at risk and dying sooner than the would have otherwise, but the whole planet has been at risk, and is still at risk from the harmful practices of humanity, from our harmful practices, harmful practices that kill countless more creatures than this Covid-19 virus is of us.

The economy has been shut down because “non-essential services” have been asked to stop. To me this illustrates how the whole system, and the harm to the planet that goes with it, is maintained through stuff we don’t actually need. Admittedly, it’s not nice to hear or consider that you are not essential, and perhaps have it further slapped in your face by having your children denied their state-provided education. But driving to work every day just to fuel a system, purchasing luxuries because the system dictates we should… all this and more is not essential (as the current crisis is pointing out).

If we can get out of our old habits and overcome our addictions to those unhealthy ways of living, then the whole planet could be better off. I’m thinking that the act of participating in something like Earth Hour places ourselves in the driving seat instead of being in the passenger seat of whatever else is going on.

Here is what I’m already doing as best as I can:

  • I’m already limiting my time online and in front of a computer to set hours at home (aided by the means of a plug socket timer)
  • I’m winding down my involvement in SETI@home ahead of the project going offline at the end of the month
  • I’m choosing my bicycle over my car for the vast majority of my journeys


Earth Hour
Saturday 28th March
8:30pm – 9:30pm

You can find out more here.


  1. It always amazes me how few people participate in this activity. When we look out at the neighbors, all their lights are on, just like every other night.

    Interesting thought about being non-essential. I guess most parents of 12 -14 year old students would consider me “essential” after all the time they are spending with their kids!

    • I participated in Earth Hour back when I lived at home and it frustrated me that I couldn’t get the other people in my household interested. I either sat in my room and read a book by candlelight or went outside and looked at the stars for an hour.

      Indeed, a new perspective is put on “essential”, but to cast some workers aside as non-essential…

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