By Gabbriella Kabler
Earth Hour is a social movement started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 with the goal of raising awareness for climate change and protection of the environment. The movement centers around an annual event on March 24 around the globe. Participants turn off their lights for one hour when the clock strikes 8:30 p.m. local time.
The event is meant to symbolically bring attention to the natural beauty of the earth, highlighting the necessity of environmental protection. Earth Hour is also intended to be a conversation starter on topics such as nature, climate change and environmental factors.
Sam Charpentier, junior Pro Terra Forma org officer, supports the movement.
“Earth Hour can have a big impact because it starts those conversations and gets people interested in how saving energy, how just turning off lights for an hour when you’re not using them, can make a difference and why it’s important,” he said.
From the Christian perspective, God commands his people to care for the earth. In the garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve dominion over all things, saying to man, “‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). In having command of both plants and animals, man is to treasure God’s creation and use it well, for food, shelter and the sustaining of life.
Dr. Mark Gathany, assistant professor of biology, believes taking care of this gift is essential.
“If you look out [in creation], and then you can realize that you know the person who made it, [then] we can, through our work, worship God through that,” Gathany said.
Taking care of the environment is not only significant in relation to God’s command, but also has profound implications for future generations.
“It makes sense to take care of the place where you and your loved ones live,” Gathany said. “We are not only individuals; we are a community, so our collective decisions compile … be mindful.”
Though trees and plants are major sources of oxygen in the atmosphere, forests are being constantly cut down. The National Geographic postulates that, at the current rate of deforestation, all rain forests will be destroyed within the next 100 years. This will decrease the amount of oxygen production on the earth.
With the added effects of carbon dioxide production through common pollutants such as transportation and factory fumes as well as the large amount of carbon produced by cows, the environment and climate are gradually being polluted.
“It can’t be ignored how much greenhouse gas we emit,” Emily Lykkegaard, another Pro Terra Forma officer, said. “Fossil fuels cause pollution into the atmosphere as well as they can be a part of emitting greenhouse gases, which can contribute to climate change.”
This is only a part of the issue, as plastic, which itself takes from 450-1000 years to degrade, as well as other chemical materials like Styrofoam, are also being produced abundantly for single use products such as grocery bags, Styrofoam cups, and plastic silverware.
“A Styrofoam cup is probably going to be in a landfill for a very very very long time,” Lykkegaard said. “They do not break down easily, they are not easily recycled, so I think it’s definitely important to be mindful of the materials we use so that we are not doing more harm than is necessary just because it’s convenient.”
The earth is continually cluttered by human litter as well as continually polluted with fossil fuels, which is dangerous to both plants and animals.
“Trash and waste affect wildlife a lot because trash ends up either outside in the environment, not in a landfill, or in the ocean. There are literally floating islands of plastic going around in the ocean … animals are ingesting that,” Lykkegaard said. “Not only do we not want trash out in our beautiful environment, but it is also harmful to the other creatures that we share the earth with.”
Gabbriella Kabler is a freshman chemistry major and an off-campus writer for Cedars. She takes joy in big questions, fresh air and fluffy kittens.
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