From Earth Hours to Earth Years!

blogApril 22, 2022

April is earth month, but did you know there is also earth day and earth hour? What are the significances of these dates?

Earth month started April 1968 in the USA when a teacher and marine biologist led a waterway clean-up project and then inspired a high school student to continue the clean-up for the month. This student realized that the month-long clean-up was not enough and needed to extend throughout the year, across the globe, and thus continued working towards this objective [1].

Earth day began about 2 years later, on 22nd April 1970, when rising concern for air and water pollution came to the fore after an oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. A US senator, a congressman and an activist started "teach'-ins" at colleges to encourage students to protest industrial development which were having adverse effects on human health. This later grew to national and international efforts to take action on environmental issues [2].

Earth hour was introduced in 2007 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with roots in Australia, as a symbolic gesture of climate change awareness. For one hour, between 8pm and 9pm, on the last Saturday of March, those observing earth hour would take off the lights in their home and use little or no electricity during that time [3].

For many years, I have marveled at darkness on my street during earth hour, admired the activist having a voice to protect the planet and been in awe of environmentalists doing their part in curbing the effects of climate change. While industry and policy seem to still be catching up to help preserve our planet, there are many ways we can personally contribute. Actions like avoiding fossil fuel vehicle use by opting for active or public transportation, eating fewer animal products in our diet, reducing air travel and carefully consuming energy in the home, can greatly lower greenhouse gas emissions [4]. And many of these choices that are good for the planet have co-benefits for us in that may lead to healthier lives and reduced financial costs [5]–[9]. Beyond the personal actions, the sustainable development goals also guide us to react on a deeper and widespread level through environmental, social and economic initiatives [10]. These movements all represent the collective power we can have in creating a better future.

We all respond to earth hour, day and month in different ways but the solidarity, collaboration and teamwork from humanity is utterly amazing. Regardless of our actions, it's great how people can come together. Let's lead by example to care for the planet that sustains us and transform earth month, day, hour into earth years!


[1]      “Earth Month.” (accessed Apr. 16, 2022).

[2]      “Earth Day.” (accessed Apr. 16, 2022).

[3]      “Earth Hour.” (accessed Apr. 16, 2022).

[4]      S. Wynes and K. A. Nicholas, “The climate mitigation gap: Education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions,” Environ. Res. Lett., vol. 13, no. 6, 2018, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/aac9d0.

[5]      L. Wang et al., “The co-benefits for food carbon footprint and overweight and obesity from dietary adjustments in China,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 289, 2021, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125675.

[6]      P. G. Bain et al., “Co-benefits of addressing climate change can motivate action around the world,” Nat. Clim. Chang., vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 154–157, 2016, doi: 10.1038/nclimate2814.

[7]      D. Ürge-Vorsatz, S. T. Herrero, N. K. Dubash, and F. Lecocq, “Measuring the co-benefits of climate change mitigation,” Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour., vol. 39, pp. 549–582, 2014, doi: 10.1146/annurev-environ-031312-125456.

[8]      C. E. Rissel, “Active travel: a climate change mitigation strategy with co-benefits for health.,” N. S. W. Public Health Bull., vol. 20, no. 1–2, pp. 10–13, 2009, doi: 10.1071/nb08043.

[9]      M. Younger, H. R. Morrow-Almeida, S. M. Vindigni, and A. L. Dannenberg, “The Built Environment, Climate Change, and Health. Opportunities for Co-Benefits,” Am. J. Prev. Med., vol. 35, no. 5, pp. 517–526, 2008, doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2008.08.017.

[10]     “THE 17 GOALS | Sustainable Development.” (accessed Mar. 31, 2021).

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