Earth Hour celebrated its 9th anniversary this year. More than 7000 towns and cities participated in the key event. The movement started by the WWF has grown to symbolise more than the one-hour lights off activity (Celebrating Earth Hour, 2016). Interestingly, people continue to question the significance of switching lights off by one hour. How can one hour or one individual make a difference?
Earth Hour began as a way to raise awareness across the world by targeting every house, every family, every individual for one hour. By creating awareness, the movement aimed to inspire individuals to take action for climate change which goes beyond the one hour. If one person makes a stand for climate change through any number of ways (for example, recycling, organising a fundraiser, planting more trees – the list is numerous!), then they are making a positive contribution.
People across the world are increasingly being urged to save water where possible. In England and Wales, for example, an astounding 180 megalitres of water could be saved if each adult remembers to turn off the tap when brushing their teeth. There is strength in numbers and every individual makes a difference. (Fun Facts, 2016)
In the UK’s General Election in 2010, 34% of the registered voters did not vote. 24% voted for Conservatives, 19% voted for Labour, and the remaining 23% voted for the other parties. In the 2015 election, the voter turnout was similar. Where 24% voted for Conservatives and 20% voted for Labour, 34% did not vote yet again. People who don’t vote have said that their (individual) vote would not make a difference. (The UK’s Unheard Third, 2015)
Many people who do not vote don’t realise that by opting out of voting, they are not remaining silent by any means. Looking at the numbers, it is clear that more people did not vote than supported either of the political parties at the forefront. By voting for none of the parties, though you might be making it clear that you are not happy with the current state of politics, indirectly you are still potentially giving power to the party (-ies) you do not support.
Icelandic women participated in the strike for equal rights on 24th October 1975. 90% of the women neither went into work nor did any of the household work, which included looking after their children. The following day a mass meeting was organised which, a year later, resulted in a law guaranteeing equal rights for both men and women. This strike did not have a strong impact on the disparity in the wages, but it does show the power of collective action. The women of Iceland achieved their goal of highlighting the importance of their work and their actions moved the country a step closer to equality in politics. (Rennebohm, 2009)
In the United States of America, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed which banned discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, religion, gender, or national origin. Apparently, the belief was that by adding the word ‘gender’ to the clause, Congress would not pass the bill (Civil Rights Act of 1964). This one Act changed the scene of American politics. History is full of examples which show how one person or one action can make an impact.
The power of one person lends itself to the bigger picture. When every person decides to stand up for something or work towards a goal collectively, then things are being put in motion. On the flip side, when every person starts to feel disillusioned and stops contributing because they think a singular action would not make a difference, things are put in motion again but to a different effect. The collective voice is all about the sea of individual voices working together. If it were not for every drop of water, there would not be an ocean.
The UK’s Unheard Third. (2015). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from VoteNone: http://www.votenone.org.uk/uk-unheard-third.html
Celebrating Earth Hour. (2016). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from Earth Hour: https://www.earthhour.org/celebrating-earth-hour
Fun Facts. (2016). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from Waterwise: http://www.waterwise.org.uk/pages/fun-facts.html
Civil Rights Act of 1964. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from National Archives: https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/civil-rights-act/
Rennebohm, M. (2009, November 15). Global Nonviolent Action Database. Retrieved May 22, 2016, from Swarthmore College: https://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/icelandic-women-strike-economic-and-social-equality-1975