For sixty minutes on Saturday, 27 March, millions of citizens and businesses around the world will be switching off lights to honour Earth Hour, the annual environmental campaign that highlights the effects of climate change. As everything from households and office blocks to the Sydney Opera House and Eiffel Tower gets plunged into darkness, Earth Hour shines a symbolic light on the pressing issues facing our planet, garnering a collective show of support for ecological causes.
This hour with no power, taking place at 8pm, has traditionally focused on conserving energy and rolling back the ravages of climate change. But for Candide, the free gardening app that connects green lovers across South Africa it has a deeper message and purpose.
Roné de Bruyn, County Manager, Candide ZA, explains;
"We are dedicated to supporting and protecting every last contributor to our greenery and gardens, no matter how small, and integral to this ecosystem are our night-time pollinators, nocturnal mammals and insects that do all the hard work when everyone else is asleep.”
These tiny creatures are under increasing threat, their behaviours and routines being constantly disrupted by a range of human activities, including artificial light at night. Because they operate under cover of darkness, we often don’t see them, but they’re there. In fact, naturalists have pointed out that the biological activity of our fauna is more intense at night, and it’s a well-known fact that about half of our millions of insect species are nocturnal.
Earth Hour is an opportunity to highlight these dangers but protecting our pollinator population is a permanent mission for Candide, as evidenced by its launch of #PolliNationSA on World Bee Day, 20 May 2020. This twelve-month movement aims to support these incredible little creatures by motivating South Africans and encouraging them to plant bee-friendly flowers and plants. All one needs is the Candide app and a pollinator-friendly plant, making this an initiative that everyone should be inspired by, and bee a part of.
Here’s how to join the movement:
- Download the Candide app.
- Snap a pic of a pollinator-friendly plant or flower that you’re growing in your garden, on your stoep, windowsill or balcony.
- Post the pic and include #PolliNationSA.
- You’ll be rewarded with a #PolliNationSA icon that can be added to your profile pic.
Light pollution affects these pollinators in different ways, exposing them to predators, interfering with their sense of direction, curtailing their hunting abilities, reducing the time they have to find food, shelter or mates, luring them to their deaths and obscuring mating signals. Artificial light also alters and interferes with the timing of necessary biological activities, creating mass confusion that deters or distracts pollinators, preventing them from doing their jobs. In short, insensitive night-light seriously impacts nocturnal lives, and is considered to be one of the main reasons we’re witnessing a rapid decline in insect populations around the world, and more worryingly, a decrease in pollinators, the very creatures responsible for ensuring we have fresh fruit and veggies on our table.
"We believe artificial light at night – in combination with habitat loss, chemical pollution, invasive species, and climate change – is driving insect declines,” scientists involved in an assessment of more than 150 studies have concluded. “We posit here that artificial light at night is another important – but often overlooked – bringer of the insect apocalypse.
Light pollution is relatively easy to prevent, all it takes is a bit of dedication and consideration, and a desire to change old habits.”
You can do this by switching off unnecessary outdoor lights, and ensuring you don’t install colourful lights in your garden, or ones that produce glare. By using only insect-friendly bulbs, you can ensure that bodies of water and natural areas are free of light and pollinator-friendly.
So when you switch off your lights during Earth Hour, consider how to turn that temporary behavioural change into something more permanent. Every night outside suburban windows, in millions of gardens around the world, there’s an army of industrious workers doing everything in their power to keep our fragile ecosystem balanced. We should be making things as easy for them as possible, and what could be simpler than ensuring that your night-time lighting setup is less harmful?
If you don't already have Candide, download the free app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.