This year’s Earth Hour celebration, which happens tonight (Mar. 28), is going to be different. Instead of a large gathering in different parts of the globe, all events are canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the organizers have encouraged everyone to celebrate the occasion in the comfort of their homes by switching off their lights for an hour and tuning in to one of their livestreams.
Since started by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 2007, Earth Hour’s mission has always been to call attention to climate change and “encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint.” Aside from global warming, their campaign also raises awareness on the rapid loss of biodiversity and nature.
Amid the pandemic, Earth Hour highlights the importance of their supporters’ well-being and health. “Earth Hour 2020 is more than a symbolic event, it is a global environmental movement to stop the destruction of nature on which our health, happiness and future prosperity depends. Nature is the planet’s life support system and gives us everything we need; from the air we breathe, the water we drink, to the food we eat. The link between nature and good health has been well documented,” noted their FAQ page.
We’ve seen how people have reacted to the state of the environment since the pandemic forced several people to go into quarantine. One Filipino shared that he could see a clear view of Sierra Madre from his Pasig condominium, while others lauded the fact that Manila Bay looked cleaner. People in other countries have also reshared photos of animals allegedly popping up in streets and bodies of water because there’s no one outside, which were later debunked by National Geographic.
“The Earth is healing itself,” declared some netizens, even going so far as calling humans the real virus. Celebrities like Iza Calzado and Drew Arellano have said the same thing and received backlash for their tone-deaf statements. It’s the type of toxic positivity reminiscent of the rich mom in “Parasite.”
As we said before, the pandemic isn’t the cure to the world’s ills—the disruption of capitalism is. Thinking that human life is less important than nature during this time comes from a place of privilege because it ignores conditions of poor communities, which are the most vulnerable. (Take note: There are still people who leave their homes to work and get food on their tables.)
If you’re celebrating Earth Hour tonight, remember that you’re not only taking a stand against climate change and the destruction of the world’s ecosystems. You are also calling on to corporations to reduce their carbon footprint and be responsible business owners to improve the lives of people around the world.
Environmental preservation isn’t, and should never be, about blaming humans for the state of the planet. Once things go back to normal, we should continue holding powerful people and corporations accountable.