On Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time, skylines around the world will go dark as millions celebrate WWF's Earth Hour to spark global awareness and action on nature and the environment.
From the Eiffel Tower to the Empire State Building, and the Bird's Nest stadium to Burj Khalifa, thousands of landmarks will switch off their lights in solidarity for the planet, urging individuals, businesses and governments worldwide to move forward the conversations and solutions we need to build a healthy, sustainable future for all.
For the first time, in addition to participating in the global switch-off, WWF is inviting people across the globe to connect2earth to share and talk about what nature means to them, in the places they live in and care about. As the planet faces the dual challenge of climate change and the staggering loss of nature, the world's largest grassroots movement for the environment aims to mobilize unprecedented global action on biodiversity and nature by kick-starting global conversations on issues such as healthy forests, plastic-free oceans and wildlife conservation.
"Nature is in alarming decline. Halting its loss is urgent and crucial as much as tackling climate change," said Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International. "Biodiversity and nature is the foundation of life, essential to our wellbeing. Yet we continue to take nature for granted while our actions are pushing it to the brink. This Earth Hour, we want to shine a light on the importance of biodiversity and nature. Together, as individuals, businesses and governments, we must show the same determination to halt biodiversity and nature loss as we have shown on climate action to secure a healthy, thriving and living planet for all."
In the past decade, Earth Hour has inspired millions to support and participate in critical climate and conservation projects led by WWF and many others, helping drive climate policy, awareness and action worldwide. Among its highlights, the movement has helped ban all plastics in the Galapagos in 2014, plant 17 million trees in Kazakhstan, light up homes with solar power in India and the Philippines and push new legislation for the protection of seas and forests in Russia. Today, as biodiversity loss threatens global ambition on climate action and sustainable development, Earth Hour will focus its efforts on building mainstream support for action on biodiversity and nature.
"The totality of forms of life on the planet, what we call biodiversity, provides the infrastructure for the healthy functioning of natural systems," said Cristiana Paşca Palmer, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. "This is critical not only to safeguarding life on Earth but also to the wellbeing and development of the human species. Once this natural capital is destroyed, life on Earth, as we know it currently, will no longer be possible. It is therefore imperative to take action, today and every day, to help safeguard biodiversity.
"Earth Hour links people from all around the globe ... It is my great hope that together with our partners from WWF, Earth Hour will inspire and mobilize a wave of actions ... WWF is a dynamic partner of the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, helping to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity and nature for people and communities worldwide."
In 2018, French Polynesia is expected to move to protect 5 million square kilometers (approximately 1.9 million square miles) of its seas to preserve ocean ecosystems. In Kenya, school children will plant 500,000 trees to help reduce deforestation and in Hong Kong and the UK, people will pledge to shift toward sustainable living. In Colombia, people will call for the country to commit to zero deforestation by 2020. In China and Singapore, WWF will mobilize public support for plastic-free lifestyles.
Recognizing the critical role young people will play in creating a more sustainable world, WWF is also joining forces with the World Organization of the Scout Movement to inspire scouts worldwide to be a part of the global movement—and momentum—tackling the planet's most pressing environmental challenges and to become environmental leaders of tomorrow.
Starting as a symbolic lights out event in Sydney in 2007, today Earth Hour is celebrated in more than 180 countries and territories across the globe. Earth Hour 2018 will take place on Saturday, March 24 at 8:30 p.m. local time. Visit www.earthhour.org to know more and read individuals' stories about what they are doing for our planet.
By Alex Kirby
The global watchdog responsible for protecting the world's wealth of species, the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), has looked at the hopes for reining in climate change through geoengineering. Its bleak conclusion, echoing that reached by many independent scientists, is that the chances are "highly uncertain."
"Novel means," in this context, describes trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in two main ways: removing them from the atmosphere and altering the amount of heat from the sun that reaches the Earth. A third method—trying to increase the amount of carbon in the oceans—has so far shown disappointing results.
Biofilm used in research into carbon capture: Doubts persist about geoengineering.Energy.gov / Wikimedia Commons
Some scientists and policymakers say geoengineering, as these strategies are collectively known, is essential if the world is to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. This is because current attempts to reduce emissions cannot make big enough cuts fast enough to keep global average temperatures from rising more than 2 C above their pre-industrial levels, the agreement's basic goal.
But the CBD says in a report that geoengineering, while it could possibly help to prevent the world overheating, might endanger global biodiversity and have other unpredictable effects.
Many independent analysts have raised similar concerns. One report doubted that geoengineering could slow sea-level rise. Another said it could not arrest the melting of Arctic ice. A third study found that geoengineering would make things little better and might even make global warming worse.
The lead author of the CBD geoengineering report is a British scientist, Dr. Phillip Williamson, of the UK's Natural Environment Research Council. He is an associate fellow in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, UK.
The CBD originally became involved in climate geoengineering in 2008, because member governments were concerned that experiments to fertilize the oceans could pose unknown risks to the environment (they were then unregulated when carried out in international waters).
National Academy of Sciences Says #Geoengineering Is Not the Answer to #Climate Change » EcoWatch http://t.co/Ci32M0Ubqk— Selina (@Selina)1427473595.0
The CBD's concern expanded to include other geoengineering techniques, especially atmospheric methods which could have uncertain transboundary impacts. Some scientists argue that "geoengineering" is a hazily-defined term and prefer to speak instead simply of "greenhouse gas removal."
Dr. Williamson and his colleagues say assessment of the impacts of geoengineering on biodiversity "is not straightforward and is subject to many uncertainties."
On greenhouse gas removal they warn that removing a given quantity of a greenhouse gas would not fully compensate for an earlier "overshoot" of emissions.
In some cases, they say, the cure may be worse than the disease: "The large-scale deployment of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage seems likely to have significant negative impacts on biodiversity through land use change."
When it comes to attempts to reflect sunlight back out into space or to manage solar radiation, a familiar theme recurs: "There are high levels of uncertainty about the impacts of SRM [solar radiation management] techniques, which could present significant new risks to biodiversity."
Time and again, it seems, a potential advance is liable to be cancelled by an equally likely reverse: If SRM benefits coral reefs by decreasing temperature-induced bleaching (as it may), in certain conditions "it may also increase, indirectly, the impacts of ocean acidification." There could even be a risk in some circumstances of loss to the Earth's protective ozone layer.
Dr. Williamson and his colleagues believe that geoengineering is essential—if it can be made to work—because of the diminishing chances that anything else will.
They write: "It may still be possible that deep and very rapid decarbonization by all countries might allow climate change to be kept within a 2 C limit by emission reduction alone. However, any such window of opportunity is rapidly closing."
Repeatedly, those two words recur: a suggested technique or development will be "highly uncertain." Most of the report amounts to a very cautious call for more research, coupled with an implicit acceptance that in the end geoengineering is unlikely to prove capable of contributing much to climate mitigation.
Dr. Williamson told the Climate News Network: "I'm skeptical. That's not to say bio-energy with carbon capture and storage is impossible, but it seems extremely unlikely to be feasible (for all sorts of reasons)" at the scale needed.
When the CBD member governments meet in December they are expected to call for more research: A safe option in most circumstances, but far from a ringing endorsement of a technology once seen as very promising.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.