Earth Hour | WWF
 
	© Jeremiah Armstrong

Earth Hour 2017

Earth Hour

"Earth Hour" is a global environmental movement launched by WWF in 2007. It involves making a gesture to the planet by cutting off lights and unplugging non-essential electrical appliances for an hour, from 20:30 to 21:30 every last Saturday in March. In its early days, a symbolic event in the Australian city of Sydney, "Earth Hour" became the world's largest popular environmental movement. Today, 172 countries, including Madagascar, celebrate "Earth Hour".

This year, "Earth Hour" will be celebrated on Saturday, March 25 all over the world under the theme of climate. The idea is to involve young people more in the fight against climate change. In Madagascar, an organizing committee of about twenty committed young people has opted to organize awareness-raising activities in schools, colleges and universities to mark the celebration around the theme of ecogests with the motto "Namako ny Tany" (My friend, the Earth).

The committee is formed by WWF Madagascar, the Indian Ocean Climate Network (RCOI), 2HY Faire Lien, Energy Advisory Group (GRE), Green N Kool, GIZ, Municipal Library English Club, Clubs Vintsy, Fakotory, Zero Hero and many volunteer university students.

The “Namako ny Tany” ecogest theme invites young people to respond to climate change individually by adopting new habits of environmental protection and preservation of natural resources.The idea is that all sensitized youth can adopt a commitment or eco-friendly attitude before the celebration "Earth Hour" and share it at the carnivals that will be held on March 25 in Antananarivo, Toliara and Morondava.

In order to further increase awareness, a video-photo competition was also launched to invite young people to showcase eco-visual records of their own choice to broadcast their example of commitment to the planet.
 
	© Earth Hour Global
© Earth Hour Global

Climate Change

It is nearly impossible to overstate the threat of climate change. 

Climate change is happening faster than ever. 2014 was the warmest year globally since we started keeping track.  Since 1900, every decade has been warmer than the previous one. The climate system is complex, but the basic dynamics have not changed – greenhouse gases from many human activities cause global temperatures to increase.

Climate change is a defining issue of our age.

-- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

But What Is Climate Change?

The Earth's climate is changing, and people's activities are the main cause.

First we have to understand what is climate. Climate is the average weather conditions that happen in a certain area over many years.

Climate change refers to rapid changes in these weather patterns - changes that are happening faster than they would naturally occur. Changes that are being caused by human activities.

One of the most talked about trends is the Earth’s average temperature, which has been rising for many years. This is called global warming.

These higher temperatures are having an effect around the world. We are experiencing stronger storms, glaciers are melting all over the planet and the survival of species are being threatened due to habitat loss caused by climate change. That's because the Earth's air, water, and land systems are all connected to each other and to the climate. Changes in one area can lead to changes in another place. An example of this is that when air temperatures rise, the oceans absorb more heat from the atmosphere and become warmer. Warmer oceans, in turn, can cause stronger storms.

What are humans doing to change the climate like this?

Well, the biggest cause is the use of fossil fuels - mainly oil, gas and coal – which we burn for heating and cooling our homes, fueling cars and generating electricity. Other things that contribute to climate change include our agricultural practices - farming more and more methane-producing livestock - and deforestation, which includes clearing land for development, for farm land, for building supplies, for warmth and for cooking.

Evolution of Global Temperatures: 1880 - 2011

 27 seconds to understand global climate change since 1880.
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A section of the Monaco Glacier calving in Spitzbergen, Norway
© Steve Morello / WWF-Canon

Climate Change: What We Know

  • We are responsible. Human activity is the main cause of recent climate change.
  • Climate change will have major and unpredictable effects on the world's water systems. Including an increase in floods and droughts, causing in turn, an impact on food supply, displacement and conflict.
  • It is causing more extreme weather and bigger storms. Seasonal shifts, extreme weather conditions, change in precipitation patterns caused by climate change will impact farming and agriculture, a source of food and livelihood for more than half of the global population.
  • The planet is getting hotter. The world has warmed by 0.8°C since pre-industrial times. 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded.
  • And the oceans are rising. Rising sea levels threaten entire nations on low-lying islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and coastal communities in many other countries, including Madagascar.
  • Some of the world’s greatest treasures could be lost. At the current rate of degradation, the iconic Great Barrier Reef could be dead within a human lifetime.
  • There are many benefits to acting on climate change that go beyond just cutting emissions. Solutions such as clean renewable energy and more efficient energy use create new jobs, promote development, avoid air pollution and health impacts, and save places and species from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction.
  • We aren’t doing enough. The gap between what scientists tell us we need to do to keep climate change below 2°C and what we are doing is huge. The time for politicians, companies and investors to act is now.
Causes and Effects

As we industrialized, the world built energy systems that relied on dirty, pollution sources of power like coal, oil and natural gas – fuel s that needed to be burned to produce energy. One of the by-products of burning these fossil fuels is carbon dioxide, which traps heat in the atmosphere and has become one of the main reasons why climate change has been happening so quickly.

The planet has a natural system to keep itself in balance and we have been rapidly destroying another part of that system – trees – which trap and store carbon dioxide. Deforestation has led to more release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and lowered the planets ability to handle the carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

All of these extra gasses are heating up the planet and leading to changes around the globe. As a result of these changes some places may receive better weather, but for most of the planet climate change is having devastating effects. It is leading to all sorts of other changes around the world—on land, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere.

And these changes affect people, plants, and animals in many ways. We are experiencing more intense hurricanes and cyclones, more droughts, more floods, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, shifting periods of rainfall and loss of habitats that is threatening plant and animal species that cannot adjust fast enough.

Inceasingly, climate change is contributing to conflicts and political instabilities as droughts and floods exacerbate pressures, suffering and disputes over scarce resources.

We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change. And the last generation that can do something about it.

-- Barack Obama, President of the United States of America

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Lemurs may lose an average of 59.6 % of their current habitats due to climate change.
© WWF Madagascar / Viktor Nikkiforov

Climate Change: What It Means For Madagascar

  • Madagascar has been ranked as the country with the third highest “extreme climate risks”.
  • Madagascar has experienced rising temperature since 1950. It is projected this change will continue in the future with more intense cyclones, higher temperatures (increases of 1.1 to 2.6°C) and changes in rainfall patterns.
  • In the north, average rainfall is declining as temperatures rise. In the south, average rainfall is increasing as temperatures rise.
  • Rainfall periods are changing. One time of the year might now get more rain, while another time of year will have less. In general Madagascar is getting less annual rainfall, but the West is experiencing more intense rainfall.
  • Since 1994 the number of intense cyclones has been increasing. The number of strong cyclones, over 200 km/hour winds, has greatly increased and the average windspeed of cyclones has risen by 30 km/hour.
  • Temperatures are predicted to rise across the country, with the greatest warming in the south.
  • Precipitation changes are varying from one region to another. The dry season is getting longer in the High Plateaus and the east; while the west is getting more intense rainfall.
  • All of these climate events will add to impacts on Madagascar’s natural and human environments already caused by human activity.
  • In addition, a recent study that examined 57 lemur species found that 60% of them will experience considerable range reductions over the next 70 years entirely due to future climate change, which risks forcing some of them into extinction. 
  • WWF Madagascar is work with our partner communities on climate change adaptation strategies with the aim of reducing human and climate threats and helping species, ecosystems and human systems to better prepare for the future and projected changes. 
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Solar panels are installed on a water desalination plant in Tariboly, a small village in southwest Madagascar.
© WWF Madagascar / A.G. Klei

WWF’s Work on Climate Change

WWF works on low carbon development and climate policy, clean and smart energy, forests and climate, climate finance, and climate business engagement.

Our work to achieve a "climate-safe" future includes:
  • Advocating a new international climate agreement – one that is just and legally binding
  • Promoting energy efficiency – the most rapid and cost-effective way to reduce CO2 emissions
  • Promoting renewable energy sources – like wind, solar, and geothermal power
  • Preventing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation – the largest contributor to green house gas emissions after the burning of fossil fuels
  • Developing and promoting climate change adaptation strategies– to safeguard the most vulnerable people and the most exposed ecosystems and species.
We also work with businesses to help them set science-based targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Earth Hour in Madagascar Through the Years

© WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar / Tinha Rabarison © WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar / A.G. Klei © WWF Madagasar / A.G. Klei © WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar © WWF Madagascar / Martina Lippuner