Earth Hour is on March 23, 2024 (Credit: WWF/ CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Earth Hour 2024 will occur on March 23 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm local time. The event, held annually toward the end of March, encourages individuals, communities, and businesses worldwide to turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour. The voluntary rolling blackouts are also observed by landmark structures such as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building. They remind us of the urgent need to protect our planet.

Rome Colosseum goes dark during Earth Hour 2008 (Credit: Saveourclimate/ CC-BY-SA-2.0/

The environmental movement started in Sydney, Australia. On March 31, 2007, the Australian chapter of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) asked the city's residents and businesses to turn off all lights for an hour. Over two million households and 2,100 companies complied. This small action helped save 10 percent of the electricity used during a typical evening hour in Sydney.

The news of the impact inspired more people to participate. In 2008, over 50 million people in 5,000 cities observed the event. The numbers have only grown since. Earth Hour is now the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment. It is celebrated in 190 countries and territories. Besides switching off the lights, the WWF is also asking supporters to spend 60 minutes doing something positive for the planet on March 23.

Simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference in slowing down climate change (Credit: NOAA/ Public Domain)

Earth Hour helps individuals to reflect on their environmental footprint. Many participants commit to long-term changes like reducing energy consumption and minimizing waste. The movement has also led to several global environmental initiatives. They include the creation of Argentina's largest marine protected area and the establishment of a 6.67-acre Earth Hour forest in Uganda. It also helped secure new legislation to protect Russia's seas and forests.

Wondering what you can do? According to the WWF, simple actions such as unplugging unused devices, using a reusable water bottle, and biking to school are a good start. Climate change can be slowed down if we all help — so do your part!

Happy Earth Hour!