The success of Earth Hour — which has grown from one city to more than 4,000 in just three years — reflects a new universal green culture that transcends race, religion, and geography, according to a University of B.C. sociology professor.

On Saturday, roughly 1 billion people — including millions in Metro Vancouver — are expected to turn off their lights at 8:30 p.m. in the fourth annual global display of solidarity against climate change.

The movement has grown so quickly in large part because concern for the welfare of the planet is universal, said Christopher Schneider, a professor at UBC Okanagan.

“Whether or not people subscribe to (the global warming theory), we all still have to live on Earth. (This is one of) a few things that we all have in common with one another,” he said.

Aside from being able to walk out and see your city in a new light — or lack of — some of the traditions being developed around Earth Hour are helping make it stick.

“Cultures develop traditions and holidays to remind itself of its values,” Schneider said.
In Vancouver, the tradition has become to have a meal or play board games by candlelight.

Restaurants are advertising special dark dining menus and government buildings are turning off their lights.

Tara Wood, a spokesperson for World Wildlife Federation Canada, said this generation could be remembered for its united resolve to keep the planet healthy.

“Our individual efforts can add up to make a big difference (fighting climate change), and with Earth Hour you can actually see that.”

She credits social media with making and spreading the message.