Earth hour

2009-03-31 00:00

LAST Saturday night hundreds of millions of people wordwide in 4 000 cities across 88 countries, time-zone by time-zone, turned off their lights for an hour. The call to do so was sufficiently widely embraced for the response to constitute some sort of a global vote about the future of the planet. Floodlights too, on iconic buildings across the globe — from the Sydney Opera House, to the Pyramids, to the Acropolis, to the Christ the Redeemer statue (although not buildings on the local campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal) — were also switched off. So were streetlights along major roads (but not those on Hesketh Drive).

South Africa saved 400 megawatts of electricity, about 15% of normal usage. But more important than what was saved was the symbolic value of the action. Governments worldwide have been given a mandate to fight climate change.

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