PETALING JAYA: Switching off lights and other electrical appliances for an hour every 365 days, as we do to mark Earth Hour, hardly makes a dent on energy consumption.
However, it serves to remind humanity to be prudent in using energy. This is especially important since energy usage is a major cause of climate change.
Earth Hour 2021 was observed last Saturday, and for an hour, Kuala Lumpur like other cities around the world, was thrown into darkness.
Environmental group EcoKnights estimated that the consumption of energy was reduced by 4% in the country in that one hour.
“This may look small, but as a social movement, Earth Hour is significant. It will certainly have an impact on our energy consumption, thus helping to improve atmospheric quality, preserve biodiversity and quality of life. It’s like a chain reaction,” EcoKnights vice-president Amlir Ayat told theSun.
He believes that there is potential for such an effort to be duplicated by others, creating a multiplier effect.
If there is an empirical and quantitative study to measure the reduction in power use accurately, it will show that the move helps the environment, he said.
Amlir also dismissed the possibility that there will be an instant power surge once the hour is up and all lights are switched on again.
More importantly, there is a need to turn this small effort into a concerted drive to stress on the importance of using energy wisely and not just during Earth Hour, he added.
He said there is little effort to constantly make this a top of mind message for everyone in Malaysia.
In fact, the enthusiasm seems to have waned, Amlir said. “This time it did not get the same kind of publicity and promotional effort that it used to.”
He said there should be efforts to inculcate in the young the need to save energy by making it a part of the education curriculum so that it becomes part of Malaysian culture rather than just hype.
Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said the theory behind Earth Hour is that if this is done every year, it could eventually become a habit. “Perhaps sometime in the future, it can become a monthly affair.
“This serves as a reminder to give attention to climate change. It is meant to be something that gathers momentum over the years.
“Events such as Earth Hour should be observed so that people acknowledge that it is not merely a one-off event. I believe if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is how to appreciate things around us a lot more.
“The government should strive to push more policies and introduce legislation to make recycling and cutting down on electricity consumption compulsory.”
Andrew added the government should consider carrying out tree planting programmes and encourage the setting up of more community gardens and parks as well as promoting and improving the public transport system.