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Why Earth Hour is important

By: Dr. Ken Munyikwa

Ken Munyikwa is a Quaternary Geologist in the Centre for Science, Faculty of Science and Technology. Quaternary geology looks at processes that have occurred on Earth over the last 2.6 million years. This geological interval is referred to as the Quaternary Period. During the Quaternary, Earth’s environment shifted between glacial and interglacial cycles as the climate varied markedly between cold and warm phases, driven by natural forces. Ken’s current research examines how the climate and associated environments changed in western Canada over the last 20,000 years. This was a period when the last major ice sheets retreated from the region. Because of his interest in medium- to long-term variations in Earth’s climate, Ken also pays close attention to current discussions that focus on the role of humans in influencing climate and environmental change over the last few centuries and how this relates to naturally induced climate change. We caught up with Ken recently and asked him to comment on Earth Hour.

We caught up with Ken recently and asked him to comment on Earth Hour

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What is the purpose of Earth Hour?

During Earth Hour, communities around the world are encouraged to turn off their lights on the last Saturday of March for one hour to bring awareness to the environmental effects of energy consumption.

The initiative was originally proposed by the non-governmental organization World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature in 2007. Since then, the event has grown globally to involve more than 187 countries around the world.

Dr. Ken Munyikwa

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Why is this important?

The significance of Earth Hour is that it encourages ordinary people to reflect on their actions and to think about how they can contribute to conserving Earth’s resources. Today, the event has grown into the world’s largest grassroots environmental movement and symbolizes how ordinary people can be rallied to support the environment. Additionally, Earth Hour has enabled people to organize and push for change.

Dr. Ken Munyikwa

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How are we doing (globally and/or in our national/provincial context) with the goal of emissions reduction?

Most global efforts aiming to bring awareness to the harm that can be done by resource exploitation and other anthropogenic activities have been reasonably successful. The implementation of measures that slow down the effects of resource exploitation, however, have largely met with modest results. This is because for policy makers, it is a case of balancing economic needs with environmental imperatives. Consequently, the adoption of measures that will see major reductions in emissions, for instance, will take longer than what might be desirable.

Dr. Ken Munyikwa

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How does our success or failure in this goal affect us?

To maintain the rapid prosperity modern humans have experienced over the last few centuries, it is important to preserve environmental conditions on Earth that allowed us to prosper. Failure to do that could disrupt the equilibrium, necessitating an adjustment to new conditions. Naturally, some regions would fare better than others and the least prepared would be most vulnerable. Ultimately, the cost of doing little is likely to dwarf the cost of acting now.

Dr. Ken Munyikwa

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Is there a course or program at AU where folks could learn more?

We have two geology courses that examine the interactions of humans with the physical environment. Introductory Environmental Geology (GEOL207) explores the application of geological principles to address environmental problems, and Our Physical Resources (GEOL313) discusses the range of resources humans extract from Earth, as well as the environmental effects of the exploitation of resources. Other courses that may be of interest to environmental enthusiasts include Introductory Environmental Science (ENSC200) and Introduction to Environmental Studies (ENVS200).

Dr. Ken Munyikwa

Published:
  • March 26, 2021
Guest Blog from:
Dr. Ken Munyikwa