Image by Earth Hour.

This year marks the 15th year of Earth Hour. What began in the Sydney CBD has spread across the nation and the globe. It is estimated that one in three people will participate in the symbolic action of turning off lights in their homes and some places of work for one hour.

Earth Hour is not about saving energy. The amount of energy this action conserves globally is negligible. The simple act of turning off the lights serves to remind us that Earth is a single planet sharing the one source of light. Looking down your street, across the suburbs, or at the dim city skyline during Earth Hour creates a sense of solidarity with others. At least one in three of your neighbours across all the continents cares enough about Earth to engage in this symbolic action. We are not alone in our concerns. The cumulative effect of everyone’s small actions and heightened awareness emits powerful messages to politicians, investors, influencers and policymakers.

As a point of trivia, the traditional western symbol for the 15th anniversary is crystal. It carries the symbolism of clarity and transparency, two much needed attributes for 2023 and beyond. The theme of 2023 Earth Hour is to take time to “reflect on the incredible benefits nature provides us and to create a better future for people and planet.” (Earth Hour) .

Not many of us will have the good fortune to be in a place where the night sky is visible despite there being fewer lights on. Julian Tenison Woods was familiar with the night sky and in 1867 wrote:

The brilliant stars which strew the skies on a still clear night, and look like so many diamonds set in ebony; the remote clouds of nebulae, whose very distance is as much as their nature and purpose: the universe, such as we know it, may all have been unfolding its grand destiny in the mysterious epoch, darkly alluded to in the Hebrew as ‘beginning’. Julian Tenison Woods, Modern Science and Ancient Records, Southern Cross & Catholic Herald, 20 November 1867

Light and darkness are primal biblical symbols. Our Christian tradition associates light with the presence of Christ, with life, knowledge and all that is good. The lighting of the Easter Candle in the darken church ritualises this. Educators lead others out toward the light, while Earth Hour dims the light. Our being invited into the darkness can be seen as an opportunity to unlearn some of our habits and to question our dependence on artificial sources of light, life and knowledge.

Earth Hour is perhaps one of the easiest ways to be an activist. You don’t need to leave home or your armchair; simply turn the lights off for the hour between 8:30pm and 9:30pm (local time) on Saturday 25 March 2023.

Sr Mary-Ann Casanova PhD

Shared below is ‘A Prayer for Earth’ you’re invited to pray during Earth Hour.

A Prayer for Earth (PDF)