What effect did Earth Hour have on Australia?

Earth Hour is a campaign started by Australians in order to raise awareness of the effects electricity has on the on the environment.

For households, however, it can also be a great way to highlight the myriad of ways to save on electricity prices.

Around 7,000 cities and towns around the world switched off their lights for an hour on Saturday for the event, including many Australian locations.

Many Aussie landmarks also dimmed their lights, such as Parliament House in Canberra and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. These joined other world landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the Kremlin, Times Square and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people participate in Earth Hour each year. This year, organisers focused on raising awareness of the Great Barrier Reef.

This beautiful natural resource is one of the most vulnerable places in the world where climate change is concerned.

The impact of climate change includes a change in temperature of both the ocean and sand, more storm damage to the reef, the bleaching of coral and rising sea levels.

Coral bleaching occurs when it gets too warm and leads to coral dying. This is occurring at a greater rate than ever before, as corals have a narrow tolerance for changes in seawater temperature.

Climate change is happening so rapidly, it is unlikely the slow pace of growth experienced by coral will be enough to ensure they evolve enough to survive.

If we lose the coral, we will also lose the food that other animals rely on for survival. 

The reef has lost half its coral coverage since the mid 1980s and it will be irreversibly damaged by climate change in the next 16 years, according to Ove Hoeugh-Guldberg whose research was quoted by Petter Hannam in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Hoegh-Guldberg is a professor of marine science at the University of Queensland and says "if we act now, those of us alive today can be the generation that brought the reef back from the brink" according to a March 29 article on news.com.au.

Earth Hour organisers are encouraging the Australian Government to set stronger targets designed to reduce carbon pollution and switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.

It is also a way to encourage households and businesses to consider the way they can reduce their electricity usage, which means their electricity suppliers can send them a lower bill!

This could be as simple as remembering to switch lights off when leaving a room, turning computers and other equipment off at the wall and putting on a jumper instead of turning on the heating system.

Posted by Liam Tunney.