Mar 25, 2011

Earth Hour

Saturday 26 March is an exciting day because I will be joining millions of people around the world celebrating the Earth Hour at 8.30pm. Every year Earth Hour asks individuals, businesses and communities worldwide to show their commitment to the environment by switching the lights off for one hour. This Earth Hour, I hope you will turn off your lights too. But when the lights go back on, we need to go beyond the hour and think about what we can change in our daily lives that will benefit the planet.

I have been participating in the Earth Hour for the last few years; to me this is about sending an important massage to the world showing what we can all achieve together globally. Consequently, our actions taken together will make the world a better place. In order to do that, I believe we all need to go beyond the Earth Hour to make a difference and change the world we all live in.

We can do things like: Recycling and reusing, reducing the use of plastics and the use of paper products (we can use recycled ones instead of the conventional ones that are bleached), buying Organic and locally grown foods that are not processed, turning off the lights when leaving the room, plugging off all unused electronic appliances, buying energy efficient appliances, and taking shorter showers.     

There are hundreds of countries around the world joining the Earth Hour by doing different things. Here are some of the things they did earlier today:
In mainland China, 84 cities committed to go beyond the hour this Earth Hour, with major urban centers from the southwest to northeast switching off their lights and taking action for the planet.
Beijing’s most famous landmarks including the Olympic sites – Bird's Nest and Water Cube - turned their lights off for an hour. This is in addition to the China World Trade Centre Tower 3, the tallest building in Beijing.

The League of Cities and Municipalities ensured an overwhelming turn-out for Earth Hour in the Philippines by signing up 1661 cities and communities for the event. After a minute’s silence for Japan and the planet, acoustic performances provided low-carbon entertainment at the switch-off event. The Department of Energy Secretary Rene D. Almendras lit the official candle outside the Mall of Asia at Pasay City followed by the vice president of The Philippine’s Climate Change Commission. A long line of government and company representatives, celebrities, regional representatives and students then lit their candles from the official candle and recited their pledges for beyond the hour actions for the environment. 

As millions of people across the country switched off the lights, Australia’s most inspiring stories of people going beyond the hour were recognized at the inaugural WWF Earth Hour Awards.
In further proof of Earth Hour’s exponential growth, WWF Canada saw a 37% increase in the number of cities participating in Earth Hour this year with their national list of cities growing to 417.

In the end,millions of people join together to make an impact in the environment, because they believe that their actions add up to make a difference. A very small action like turning off the lights when leaving the room, can turn into a much bigger action when done globally. So instead of feeling insignificant, just start by doing something small to change the world. I hope you all join me this Saturday first by switching your lights off, and then trying to go beyond the Earth Hour by doing more.

Mar 23, 2011

Animal Kingdom

I always loved the month of March, not because it is the beginning of spring, but because it includes my birthday as well as spring break. To celebrate these happy occasions we decided to go to Disney's Animal Kingdom for the first time last weekend.

My previous job required a lot of travelling. After all, I went to several Safaris, fed baby lions and saw the Big Five in Kenya and South Africa, so I thought it would not be as exciting; I have to admit I was wrong. It is full of attractions, adventures and entertainment that reflected Disney's dedication to nature,conservation, animal care, education, and research. It's home to more than 1,700 animals from 250 species and spreads across 500 acres of lush landscape, and in fact it's the largest animal-themed park in the world. The park is divided into seven areas: Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Asia, Dinoland and my favorite Rafiki's Planet Watch.

The reason I liked Rafiki's Planet Watch the most is that it included attractions like Affection Section where you can pet animals, and Conservation Station where they give you a fun and educational behind-the-scenes look at the animals in the park. There're many things I learnt and like to share with you on Disney's inspiring conservation efforts. As an illustration, Disney's Friends for Change: Project Green encourages kids help the planet through simple actions they can make in their everyday lives. Disney is saving habitats through large-scale efforts to preserve and restore ecosystems, resulting in thousands of acres protected and 3 million trees planted in the Amazon, the Congo and the U.S.; this will help benefit the climate and protect the environment.

Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund is supporting programs and people, making a difference by providing community and non-governmental organizations with 14 million dollars in grants since 1995; it has a positive impact on local species, communities and the ecosystem. Their efforts include promoting habitat conservation and working with the scientific communities to preserve the Earth's biodiversity. Accordingly, among other achievements, their work lead to the discovery of 2 new species: a butterfly in Myanmar and a tree frog in Nicaragua.
Seeing the conservation station and learning about their research and protection efforts helped me see that as individuals there are certain things we can do to make a difference like:
  • telling others about the value of wildlife and ecosystems
  • learning more about conservation issues
  • purchasing products that are eco-friendly and sustainable
  • creating habitats for wildlife in your backyard
  • planting fruit and vegetable gardens
  • reducing, recycling, and reusing
  • choosing your pets carefully
  • supporting conservation by volunteering or donating

In short, we don't have to be a multibillion dollar company to make a difference in the world that we live in. A very fun day at a theme park made me realize that there is always new information to be learnt about the environment and how to protect it. I'm trying to make a difference by sharing what I learnt, I hope you do the same and spread the word.

To learn more about how you can help save the environment and its habitats visit:
Cotton-top Tamarins
African Elephant Research at Disney's Animal Kingdom
Green Sea Turtles Satallite Tracking