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Cities worldwide turned off their lights at 8:30 p.m. local time on March 27 to commemorate Earth Hour.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held almost this year, as it was last year. People expressed their support on social media as it brightened the connection between environmental devastation and disease outbreaks such as coronavirus.

This year's organizers say they want to stress the connection between environmental degradation and diseases like COVID-19 spreading from animals to humans.

Experts agree that human activities such as widespread deforestation, degradation of animal ecosystems, and climate change contribute to this trend. If more is achieved, further pandemics will arise.

Marco Lambertini, director-general of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), told Phys.org the evidence is clear that nature is in free fall whether it's a reduction in pollinators, less fish in the ocean and rivers, declining habitats, or a more remarkable lack in biodiversity.

"Protecting nature is our moral responsibility, but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security," Lambertini said.

The annual event urges people to take action on climate change and the environment. It also aims to put people together who share a shared goal: a more environmentally sustainable world. 

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is an annual event in which people turn off their lights to increase climate change and biodiversity awareness, CNN reported.

Since 2007, Earth Hour, a mass initiative initiated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on the last Saturday of March with millions of members worldwide, has aimed to draw attention to the current climate crisis.

Millions of people from all over the world have registered since then. The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Sydney Opera House, Empire State Mansion, Buckingham Palace, the Colosseum, and Edinburgh Castle have all shut off their lights for an hour.

People watching from vantage points above Hong Kong watched as the lights on hordes of densely crowded skyscrapers dimmed, while the ancient Namdaemun gate in Seoul went dark.

In Thailand, the iconic CentralWorld mall in Bangkok counted down to 8:30 p.m. before turning off its external glass displays for an hour-though the shopping center continued to be open as normal on the inside.

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According to organizers, participants are encouraged to join in the blackout and sign a petition urging elected figures to take steps to save the world.

How to Save Earth Aside From Earth Hour

If you missed this year's Earth Hour, there are also many other things people can do to mitigate climate change better. NRDC suggests the following steps:

You can use renewable energies to power your house.

Choose a utility that gets at least half of its electricity from wind or solar that Green-e Energy approved. This non-profit evaluates clean energy alternatives. If it isn't an option, review your electric bill. Many utilities now provide information on various ways to promote green energy on their financial statements and websites.

Invest in energy-saving appliances.

Since 1987, reliability requirements for thousands of appliances and devices have prevented 2.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That's about the same amount of carbon dioxide emitted annually by nearly 440 million vehicles. Look for the Energy Star sticker on refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances while shopping. It will inform you as to which be the most effective.

Reduce the amount of water wasted.

Conserving water also helps to minimize greenhouse emissions. That's because pumping, heating, and treating the water uses a lot of electricity. So take shorter baths, turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth, and upgrade your fixtures and appliances with WaterSense-labeled ones. EPA said retrofitting one out of every 100 American homes with water-efficient fixtures would save approximately 100 million kilowatt-hours of energy each year, avoiding 80,000 tons of global warming emissions.

Purchase higher-quality bulbs.

LED lightbulbs use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs. They're even more cost-effective in the long run: A 10-watt LED bulb that replaces a 60-watt bulb would save you $125 over the life of the bulb.

Remove the plug(s).

The outlets in your home are likely powering about 65 different devices when combined, which is the typical load for a home in the United States. And when they aren't charging, audio and video cameras, cordless vacuums and power tools, and other appliances consume electricity. This "idle load" in the United States is equivalent to 50 major power plants' capacity. So unplug seldom used machines or plug them into power strips and timers when not in operation. Set your computers and displays to automatically power down to the lowest power mode when not in use.

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Check out more news and information on Climate Change on Science Times.