Hundreds of millions of people around the world became everyday superheroes on March 29th, as they switched off their lights in aid of Earth Hour 2014.

The event was observed in more than 7,000 cities and towns across the globe, when people in over 162 countries observed a magical lights-off moment to show their support for the environmental scheme.

Spearheaded by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the campaign saw several famous landmarks plunge into darkness for 60 minutes, as members of the public came to a standstill in recognition of the importance of energy savings.

Global participants

Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace were just some of the sites where lights were switched off. Elsewhere, Times Square and the Empire State Building were in total darkness in the US.

Andy Ridley, chief executive officer and co-founder of Earth Hour, said: “It’s always extraordinary to see cities and landmarks involved in the ‘lights off’ event, but the most exciting thing about Earth Hour this year is seeing the amount of projects and campaigns that are taking action beyond the hour.

“From crowdfunding to campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef or The Amazon, Earth Hour is harnessing the power of the crowd far beyond the hour.”

Beginning its journey in New Zealand, Earth Hour 2014 was celebrated in several events across the country before moving to Fiji. Here, president Ratu Epeli Nailatikau hosted a special fundraising dinner in aid of the event.

Other landmarks included the Las Vegas strip, the Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro and Victor Civita Square in Sao Paulo.

Digital presence

Earth Hour has also garnered the support of millions of people across the globe by way of its digital presence, including the Earth Hour Blue website, which has driven engagement beyond the campaign itself.

Using the platform, individuals can share their thoughts – or make donations – to support the projects that mean the most to them. They can also utilise social media to engage with particular crowdfunding and crowdsourcing projects.

Colin Butfield, director of public engagement and campaigns at WWF-UK, told the Guardian: “It’s fortuitous timing that as millions of people take part in WWF’s Earth Hour, the world’s leading scientists release the latest IPCC report, which highlights the various impacts of climate change.

“The significance of these two events is massive. Climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing our planet – it’s real, it’s happening right now, and we need to act fast.”

Also important was the backing of multiple online retailers, including the Ethical Superstore, which specialises in low-carbon products aimed at the UK market.

A worthy cause

The Earth Hour campaign is one of the world’s first open-sourced environmental campaigns. Over the last eight years, it has grown from a special event in one city to a global cause that has raised awareness of a very serious issue.

Mr Ridley went on to say the scheme has “empowered” individuals across the globe, who feel part of a much bigger movement by taking the simple step of turning off their lights.

He added: “It was an excuse to lean over the garden fence and talk to your neighbour or a reason for people to talk to each other at a restaurant, so I never underestimate the power of that symbolism.”

Photo credit: Taiger808 via photopin cc