Organizers Word Wide Fund for Nature said this year’s Earth Hour wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of nature and an increase in disease outbreaks such as COVID-19.
Cities around the globe dimmed their lights for an hour on Saturday, to mark Earth Hour. The annual event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) encourages countries to dim their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time.
This year, organizers said they wanted to highlight the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like COVID-19.
Experts are of the opinion that human activity, such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animals’ habitats and climate change, is spurring an increase in the incidence of disease, and warn more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.
Cities across the world go dark
The Asia Pacific kicked off the event, by turning off their lights at night time. New Zealand was the first to do so, with Auckland’s Sky Tower and Wellington’s parliament buildings switching off their power.
In Europe, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, and the Vatican’s Saint Peter’s Basilica also hit the light switch. Other cities that celebrated included Tokyo, Sydney, Moscow, New Delhi, and London.
“#EarthHour reminds us that small actions can make a great difference for our planet,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall. Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security,” said Marco Lambertini, director-general of the WWF.
“One hour is not enough for us to remember that climate change is actually a problem — I don’t really see (Earth Hour) as very significant,” he added.