Victor-Marie Hugo once said 'all the forces in the world are not quite so powerful as an idea whose time has come.'
I believe Mr. Hugo has hit the nail squarely on the head. The simple idea of switching off your lights for a designated hour to express your support for the health of the planet has swept the globe with the enthusiasm of a Mexican Wave. In the three short years since its inception, I've optimistically watched on as the people of the world have rapidly and passionately assumed ownership of Earth Hour.
From a one-city event in Sydney, Australia in 2007, Earth Hour's message of hope and action for a better, healthier planet has gone beyond race, culture and religion.
In 2009, hundreds of millions of people across 88 countries simultaneously switched off their lights for one hour. And just under two weeks out from Earth Hour 2010, citizens of more than 100 countries and regions have pledged to do the same at 8.30pm on March 27, in a conscious effort to be the change they want to see in the world.
To add to Victor Hugo's words, it could also be said that 'many ideas are better than one'.
As compelling an idea as Earth Hour has proven to be, its rapid emergence could not have happened 10 years ago. Even if the same level of concern for climate change existed then as it does today.
To use a climate pun, Earth Hour has been part of a perfect storm of innovative thinking that has occurred over the past four or five years. The online revolution and the advent of social media have augmented individual expression in an unforeseeable way, resulting in boundless creative ideas and a global platform on which to exhibit them. And it's this level of reach and influence stemming from the new age of personal communication that lies at the heart of Earth Hour's organic growth.
Of course, Earth Hour would not have been embraced to such an extent were it not for its open-source nature. It is a campaign that defies all conventions of a traditional campaign. It is essentially a platform to facilitate the individual expression of people who are committed to being part of a global solution to climate change, with no limits on what they can or can't do to encourage the behavioural change in others on the journey to a climate solution.
The open source nature of Earth Hour allows everyday people to take ownership of the campaign and gives them the freedom to be highly creative in the way they drive the message forward.
Across the globe bloggers, podcasters, online video makers, mobile users and online social networkers are using Earth Hour and the power of social media to rally the international community behind a resolution to global warming.
In Canada, one individual has used his extensive social media network to create an Earth Hour event on facebook that has so far reached over 50,000 people. Online networks have been used to coordinate Earth Hour flash-mobs in the Philippines and Kazakhstan, while in Morocco - one of the newest countries to see Earth Hour participation - the entire nation is being encouraged to join the planet for Earth Hour by one person with a PC. They've even engaged the local government of Casablanca to participate by switching off their lights on local landmarks, proving just how influential one individual can be in the age of social media.
In fact, of the 27 nations that will see participation in Earth Hour for the first time in 2010, eight will do so as a result of online networking, exemplifying the power of the online revolution and the age of citizen journalism.
Citizen journalists all over the world have an acute understanding of the reality of global warming. They realise this issue is not going away, and as their medium becomes more influential they will be a catalyst for bringing the global community together to resolve it.
Earth Hour will no doubt continue to grow, limited only by the will of the planet to strive for a successful journey to a climate solution. It is not a question of whether it is possible but when it will happen. And the role of online communities is crucial to this.
On the back of the social media revolution this simple idea that began in one city three years ago has circumnavigated the globe; a simple idea to show how we can address a complex problem; a simple idea whose time has come.
Earth Hour is at 8.30pm (local time) on Saturday March 27. View the inspirational Earth Hour 2010 video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FclcMfzjwug
Visit www.earthhour.org for more information. Spread the word and show the world what can be done.